Four long-time journalists with the Reno-Gazette Journal retired at the end of last month, including political reporter Ray Hagar. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey sat down with Hagar to talk about his nearly four-decade career in journalism and an infamous episode when he accidentally became the news.
“My first job at the paper was in high school, and I answered the phones in the sports department at night when they got busy and when somebody called something in that the regular sports writers were too busy to deal with,” he says.
Although he spent more than half of his career as a sports reporter, he spent the latter half as the Reno Gazette-Journal's seasoned political reporter.
“At times it was a very difficult; it was a steep learning curve — it was like climbing Mount Everest learning how to cover politics,” he says of the transition.
There were some parallels, however.
“Politics really is the biggest game that there is,” he says. “There’s definitely a winner and loser in every election.”
Asked for his most memorable story, Hagar recalled the time he was beat up by former Yankees manager Billy Martin during a visit he made to Reno in the ‘80s.
“It put my picture on the front page of the New York Times and virtually every other newspaper sports department in the nation,” he says.
Hagar says Martin was upset about a trade deal and was extremely drunk during the interview and seemed to take it out on Hagar.
“He was upset and he was drunk and just hauled off and hit me,” he says. “It was 10 and a half months of hell, to be honest with you, for all the public attention it caused.”