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Death in Evansville...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by OnTheRiver, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. OnTheRiver

    OnTheRiver Active Member

    Just a heads-up to some of you who might know him.

    Cliff Guilliams, an Equibase writer/chart-caller who did horse racing-writing work for us here in Evansville, died over the weekend.


    In my first year on the job, I spent many nights on the phone, trying to walk Cliffy through sending stories to us from his laptop. It usually ended up with him growling about "this goddamned piece of shit" -- his laptop, not me, thankfully.

    He was a good guy, and he'll be missed.
  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    That blows. RIP.
    Never met Cliff. But I never met a writer/chart-caller who wasn't a character in the very best sense of the world. Learned the hard way several times, stay out of the OTB with those folks.
  3. ECrawford

    ECrawford Member

    Cliff meant a lot to me, and his passing has been a shock to the system. It seems to me that there are fewer and fewer true characters in sports. He was definitely that.

    My quick attempt to memorialize him, though I still haven't gotten the knack of a 575-word obit column (and I'm getting far too much practice on obit pieces lately) ...

  4. Tim Ethridge

    Tim Ethridge New Member

    About Cliff: He only got a cell phone in the past year, when his fiance (and now wife) insisted. He banned them from his office at Ellis Park, citing the distractions.
    Outside horse racing, his passion was covering high school basketball. I didn't pay him enough to cover gas and dinner, but he'd drive anywhere in southwestern Indiana for us. He charted 25 consecutive Kentucky Derbys, which if you've ever watched it done is impossible, calling each of 20 horses' positions in the race at about six different intervals. Then he'd write the chart note for each (bore out in the stretch, failed to finiish, etc.) before writing a column and a game story for us.
    My wife told him once that "you're the best friend my husband will ever have, and the biggest asshole that I'll ever meet." He agreed that she was right on both counts.
    As former sportswriter Chuck Fields told me today, " I always thought it would piss him off if he realized that everybody knew what a nice guy he really was."
    He'll be missed, and unfortunately we won't hire many like him any more.
  5. longtimecomin

    longtimecomin Member

    I worked in Evansville for a few years in the early and mid-90s. I hate it when people use the word never, but I'm convinced I'll never meet anyone quite like Cliff in this business again.

    He was the ultimate in having a big bite but gentle heart. (He would kill me for using the word gentle, but it was the truth.) Never once did he not come through for me. . .whether it was introducing me to star trainers like Nick Zito or D. Wayne Lukas or a backstretch worker at Ellis Park. He would bitch and moan -- sometimes with good reason -- how stupid the media was on the Churchill Downs backside during Derby week. But if you were sincere, he would bend over backwards to help you.

    After I moved to Indianapolis, I was able to write a story on Cliff when Zito named Cliff's Hope. a highly regarded contender for the 2003 Derby, after him. It was a good story, it was also a way to say thanks to guy who took a naive young writer that didn't know the difference between a filly and a gelding and helped make him a respectable horse racing observer.

    I would love to be at Cliff's wake tomorrow. It will be sad, but you will see the biggest cross section of people you'll ever see in your life. They'll be high-level millionaires and degenerate gamblers, all there to pay respects to a guy who touched every single one of them. Not many people can do that.

    RIP, my friend. . .The Churchill Downs and Ellis Park press boxes will never be the same.
  6. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Well done, Eric. Reading about Cliff with a bottle of Woodford Reserve makes him even more endearing in my eyes. RIP.
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