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Peter Wallace: A tribute for a local sports writing legend. Part One.

POSTED February 04, 2017
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney


TORRINGTON: I first met Peter Wallace when I started stringing for the Torrington Register Citizen back in 1999, the same year he arrived on the scene.

He quickly became the guy I looked up to and counted on for honest opinions about the stories I wrote. He was the edit guy who would beat the story up in a fair and balanced way as I began navigating my way through what it was like to write sports stories.

The sports department at the RC was the place to be, what with guys talking sports, watching sports on television, and then digging in to the madness that began when the phones started to ring after that day’s high school games ended.

I worked my full-time job with Frito Lay during the day and then made my way into the office to work from 7-10 or so talking calls and writing roundups.

Pete was that larger-than-life figure who would punctuate a conversation with a “murp, that calls for a cigarette”, a signature call of his back in those days.

I would be sure to bring some samples (or boxes) of chips and or salsa with me at least once a week and everybody would enjoy themselves.   

Over the years, the work started to go away in the stringer department, the staff was cut down and the RC moved from Water Street and I moved on to create LCS.

All the while though, one thing was clear. Peter Wallace was the face of the RC in the sports community. His undying support of Torrington athletics came first but his reach went far beyond that. The Berkshire League was also his domain.

When word got around on Thursday that Pete had been the latest victim of the downsizing taking place in the newspaper world, it was a punch in the gut for folks who counted on seeing him in their gym or reading about what he covered the day before.

The Litchfield County community began to find out that day and quickly, the tributes started to roll in.

Nobody writes anything about the guy who gets let go.

I aimed to change that.

My friend, Peter Wallace, who knew my wife Deb and I well enough to be at our 10-year Anniversary celebration back in 2005, and also attended one of the co-founders of LCS, Patrick Tiscia’s wedding with us, will always be one of us.

It’s a small, tight knit community, this sports writing family.

What follows below is the many, many tributes that have poured in to LCS.

Folks want to let Peter know how he impacted their lives over the nearly 20-years of service to the communities he covered.

You will be missed, Mr. Wallace and thanks for helping me figure my way to where I am today.

Here are just some of the tributes.

Patrick Tiscia-LCS

Many athletes and coaches have come and gone during the last 20 years in the Northwest Corner, however none of them were the face of the sports scene. That distinction goes to Peter Wallace, who, over the last two decades, entertained readers with a distinctive style of writing.

I first got to know Wallace (we only referred to each other by our last names) when I started as a part-time writer at the Republican-American in 2002 and our paths crossed regularly at games we were covering.

One year later, I joined the staff of The Register Citizen as a full-time writer in the sports department. In that time, I got to witness firsthand how valued Wallace was in the community.

Covering the local sports was more than just a job to him. He truly cared about everyone involved, even the refs, who he actually quoted in stories on a few occasions. I will never forget the 20-inch story he once wrote on a 0-0 soccer tie. Despite, literally, nothing happening, he found a way to include all the kids in the story and make it feel like an epic event.

This was the norm when it came to his work. He was also true a local celebrity when he arrived at games. It was always hard to get a hello in because of the amount of people who regularly swarmed to him.

While he worked every day with a smile and unmatched passion, he did so knowing for over a decade that any day could be his last at the paper as constant layoffs hovered over the corporation at the Journal Register Company.

Working with that on the back of your mind constantly is not easy for anyone, but Wallace always carried himself with class and always kept his mind on the No. 1 focus: the athletes of the Northwest Corner.

Unfortunately, that final day finally came this week, and most unfortunate, he’ll won’t be able to leave the paper on his own terms given the amount of time he put in there. In no way, though, will this taint a great career by a great man.

Wallace will forever be a part of this community, even if he is no longer writing here. That can never be taken away.

Thank you, Peter.

Rick Wilson-LCS, Rep-Am

I guess you could kind of say that Peter Wallace came, he covered and he conquered. Peter became not just a sportswriter for the Register Citizen but a presence in the Torrington community and around the area during his nearly two decades. `Wally’ sauntering into the gym with clipboard and notebook in tow was kind of a validation that your game meant something.

Peter also became one of my best friends in this business. We briefly worked together at the RC before I left and we covered a load of events together over the years. He knew my left ear wasn’t good and always remembered to stand on the right side. I knew his eyes weren’t great and read him the box scores before we moved into modern times and began taking pictures of the scorebook with our phones. Peter also made sure he befriended my son Jonathan through the years, a gesture not forgotten.

Peter is still with us but in what has become an increasingly cruel corporate world in the newspaper business was laid off Wednesday. I got that feeling in the pit of the stomach that you only get when you feel for a friend. For now, we have a lost a presence and a friend in the sports writing business but the real losers are the athletes of Torrington who have lost his coverage.

Tony Turina-Former THS boys’ basketball head coach.

I am saddened to learn that the Register Citizen's Peter Wallace will no longer be covering the high school sports scene throughout Litchfield County. 

During my tenure as the Torrington High School boys’ basketball coach, my relationship with Peter was more than just that of a coach and sportswriter.  It was one of friendship.

Peter's emphasis in his writings was all about the positives of the young athletes and the programs he covered.  You always knew during our after-game conversations that the stories he would write would always be published in the right context the next day. 

A class guy, a gentleman, a very special person. Peter's absence will certainly leave a big void in both Torrington and the surrounding areas.  Sadly, it is a huge loss for all.  We were lucky to have him.

Gerry Carbone-Former THS head baseball coach.

Today is a sad day for our athletes and fellow coaches.  Pete was always professional and provided great sports coverage of our baseball team during my tenure as coach. 

He was always fair when interviewing our players and game coverage articles.  I will truly miss Pete not only as a sports writer but as a friend.

Hopefully something will come up and I will get a chance to see him leaning on the 3rd base fence covering the game he loved.

Christine Gamari-THS girls’ volleyball head coach

I have known Mr. Wallace for over 15 years, as I was first introduced to him while a student-athlete at Torrington High School. 

In my opinion, the Register Citizen loses a big community contributor with the loss of Mr. Wallace from its writing ranks.

To me, Mr. Wallace is the Register Citizen, and the Register Citizen is Mr. Wallace. Always a fair reporter, Mr. Wallace was also a fan of the local programs he covered. 

You could feel him rooting for you, and sometimes he wasn't even afraid to let you know that was the case. 

Mr. Wallace was a student of each and every game he covered, never afraid to ask questions or ask for clarification in order to write a more informative, accurate article. I always loved reading Mr. Wallace's pieces in the Register. 

The play-by-play narrative, coupled with statistics seamlessly threaded through, almost made people feel like they didn't even need to go to the game due to the thorough recap.

He also did a great job writing stories about former local standout athletes, or advertising charity fundraisers and team events. 

I always appreciated how, as an athlete and later as a coach, I felt like I could speak freely with Mr. Wallace. He understood what was on-the-record, and what was off, and he always came from a positive place, never in the business of printing anything that could be misinterpreted or could misrepresent the original intent of the speaker. 

When Mr. Wallace's sports writing staff was drastically reduced in recent years, he did what he could to give adequate coverage to local teams, apologizing if he felt he was falling short of what they deserved. 

I am saddened that local sports programs and athletes have lost a voice and an advocate with the dismissal of Mr. Wallace from the Register Citizen's writing ranks. 

Thanks for so many years of wonderful coverage, Pete. You will be missed!

Mario Longobucco-Torrington girls’ soccer head coach.

Peter Wallace has been a great supporter of THS athletics. Other papers also do a good job covering our events but Peter was our guy.

He knew our athletes, where they came from and what it took for them to be successful.

Unfortunately, he is the last man standing for a newspaper that doesn’t look anything like it did ten years ago, never mind when we were growing up and every Little League box score would be in print.

I will miss seeing him at the games and I wish him well.     

Michael Fritch Sr.-Torrington girls’ basketball head coach.

Peter always took time to talk to the kids and give them some coverage. He didn’t just want the numbers of who scored how many but the story behind the numbers. It’s about the kids and the families and he understood that. He did a very good job at that.

Dennis Fowler-former Lewis Mills girls’ soccer, basketball head coach

Peter had a true love for the high school game. Whether it was a big soccer game at Nassahegan or a big Friday night showdown on the court versus Thomaston, I knew Peter would be there with his notepad ready to go.

His writing style was unique, unlike any other reporter in the area. He told a great “story” about the game he was covering. I always loved his leads and the dynamic way he could pinpoint important turning points in a game that others couldn’t see.

I’m very, very upset this has happened. Peter was a local legend.

He will be missed by players and coaches but most importantly, his readers.

Ed Gadomski-Tri-State Baseball Commissioner.

Upon hearing the news of Peter Wallace “leaving” the Register Citizen brought a sadness to my heart as we became friends because of a past time called baseball.

Peter took the initiative to cover the Tri-State Baseball League back in the late 1990’s when no one else gave us the time of day. The league was struggling to stay in existence with only 6 teams but that did not deter Peter from covering the local teams and all the league playoffs.

I have stated often that without the support of the local papers and social media, the league would not have grown into the POWERHOUSE it is today proudly hosting 20 teams, the annual Stan Musial state tournament and even bringing the AABC World Series to CT in 2016.

It is because of men like Peter Wallace that the growth of the league was even possible, and certainly started with Peter Wallace.

Peter’s smile, laugh, and quick thinking wisdom became a regular scene at the Tri-State League’s biggest moments; whether a league game, a ceremony or induction, or a worthwhile special event.

Peter always focused the spotlight on everyone but himself which is why the Tri-State Baseball League wanted to say ‘Thank You’ for all you have done for us by inducting Peter Wallace as the first-ever Sports Writer into the Tri-State Baseball League Hall-Of-Fame in 2008.

I remember Peter’s wife standing just outside the park gate that evening excitingly stating “this is the real thing” as people poured into the park for the ceremony that had electricity in the air.  I remember handing the plaque to Peter and not just congratulating him, but thanking him for all he has done.

I remember so much, and will never forget what he has done for the Tri-State Baseball League.

Call me when you are in the area Peter and the hotdogs are on me my friend!!

Fred Williams-Northwestern girls’ basketball head coach.

It is a sad day when the local paper doesn't cover the High School sports programs. When a guy like Peter Wallace is let go it is more than just a sad day!

Peter would travel to wherever to cover the games no matter what the weather conditions he would be there.

He covered the games with a love for sports and had a spot in his heart for the players and coaches he would write about.

Peter, sorry to hear you won't be covering the sport teams here at Northwestern.  You will be missed! Best of Luck in your next adventure.

Biff Pond

I have had the pleasure of knowing Peter Wallace for close to twenty years. When we first met, he was one of three or four sportswriters at the Register Citizen covering the Northwest Connecticut sports scene.

Over the years, the Register Citizen Sports Department became one man; Peter Wallace.

Summer, Fall, Winter or Spring, Peter did an unbelievable job covering local sports as well as the neighboring towns.

Peter was always very approachable and easy going. Known best for covering Torrington P-38 Baseball over the years, he did not miss many of our home games and when he did, it was because of an illness or vacation.

Peter had a loyalty and dedication not only to our program but to others as well.

Peter made a lot of friends in the NWCT sports sector.

Peter, your shoes will be hard to fill. We will all miss you.

Yours in sports, Biff Pond, GM P-38 Baseball.  

 

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