BENNETT'S MINUTES: Fond remembrances of a fallen colleague
Long-time sports journalist loses cancer battle, but won’t be forgotten
I don’t remember exactly when I first met Steve Fields, but I’m sure it was in the late 1980s or early 1990s when I had moved back to Terre Haute from a three and-a-half-year stint as the sports editor at Greensburg.
At that time, Steve was about halfway through a 19-year stint as sports editor of the Banner Graphic that spanned from 1978-1999, minus a two-year departure in the middle.
Fields passed away on Saturday at age 65 from cancer, and I have to admit being a little surprised when I learned at some point that he was only eight years older than me. His white hair probably led me to think he was already 65 years old when he was far from it.
He was about as “old school” as it gets, and was never afraid in my experience from making his point of view known. As Steve developed into a pretty avid Facebook and Twitter user, he never shied away from arguing with the Indianapolis Star prep sports editor that he should have been at the high school football state finals instead of a basketball game or with an Indianapolis TV station that it should be carrying a different game than it was.
I really didn’t know him much outside of the world of sports and/or journalism, but I imagine he had a bout or two with cable companies over being reimbursed for those two days last month when the service was out.
For me, he had become a valuable source of information on Putnam County history. I have tried to compile lists of county and sectional winners in as many sports as possible, and Steve was incredibly valuable in providing old clippings of such lists that made my research efforts easier.
Like the hundreds of people who left online tributes over the weekend, I always enjoyed our conversations whether we were just coincidentally at the same event or even later when he wrote for me the past few years at the Banner Graphic.
I was impressed at the vast array of responses to his son Joe’s postings announcing Steve’s unfortunate passing.
There were journalists from Bloomington, Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Crawfordsville and smaller points in between. High school coaches from inside that area and beyond, including one from Robinson, Ill., as well as former athletes who remembered the stories he had written. There were college coaches and several people I did not know who all took the time to leave their remembrances.
Included with this column are some excerpts taken from social media, and one stood out as being especially memorable.
Deb and Todd Zellers owe more to Steve Fields than most people, since he helped get them together:
“My thoughts and prayers go out to [Joe] and your mom. Steve, you meant a whole lot to Todd and I. Todd’s first job was working for you. You encouraged Todd to ‘look up’ and meet the volleyball coach [which was her]. You were there as a friend at the beginning of our marriage. You wrote sports stories about my family, and took genuine interest in my children and their well-being. Thank you Steve for the memories, your kindness and your good work. God Speed Steve.”
I know as much as he also cared for all those people who praised, the two people he cared for most of all are with him at the top of this page in a photograph. This health struggle has gone on for a few years now, and early on he told me several times that his main goal was to live long enough to see Joe graduate from the University of Indianapolis last spring.
In a way, Joe’s graduation last year and Steve’s will to hang on were fortunate circumstances chronologically, considering that this year’s graduates of high school and college may not ever get to walk across the stage (or at least not for a long time). With his age and all of his medical problems, which even included shingles for crying out loud, he probably would have been at the highest risk for coronavirus. He suffered enough, and didn’t need that too.
Steve’s last-ever game as a sports journalist came for us on January 18 when he covered the Edgewood vs. Greencastle boys’ basketball game.
He had wanted to slow down his coverage assignments, and I told him I would get with him once in a while to see if he felt like going to a game. He probably covered more games this winter than he should have, but that’s just how much he loved it.
Not many other people would schedule chemotherapy treatments and their recovery time in order to be feeling well enough on a weekend night to cover a game, but that’s what Steve did.
Aside from the people in our lives, we should all love doing something so much as Steve loved covering games.
RIP my friend.
Online remembrances of Steve Fields (written to Joe and Monique Fields)
“So sad to hear this news. Steve was a great reporter and even better person. We spent many hours at games together and I really enjoyed our talks. He will be really missed.”
— Brent Ranard, Spencer
“He always sought me out when I would officiate games he was covering. Very pro official and a very kind and gentle man. He will be missed by those of us on and off the courts, diamonds, fields and pitches of Indiana.”
— Steve Morris, Terre Haute
“So sorry for you and your family. Your Father was one of the best in the biz and a true friend. Loved our talks before ballgames and the laughter, we will always think of him in the press box and gyms. Prayers to you and your family, RIP.”
— Tony Kale, Ellettsville
“I have known him for such a long time. I will miss him dearly but I know my Dad was there welcoming his long time friend. RIP.”
— Crystal Manion, Greencastle
“I met Steve when I first started in journalism near 1980. I truly enjoyed seeing him at conventions and sharing stories. He was such a likable guy and always treated me with such respect. This is a great loss for your family and for our profession as well. God bless.”
— Bob Bridge, Bedford
“He was a top notch sports reporter and an even better man I will always remember and cherish my post game talks with him (plus the advice he gave me as a first year head coach) after the post game interviews took place. He was one of a kind!”
— Jamie Steffy, Cloverdale
“I’ll always remember how we sang Petticoat Junction in the newsroom, with Steve as the Silver Possum and Angie and I as The Headlights. He was such a hoot, and seriously, was so dedicated to telling the stories of the teams and young athletes in this county. He was also a proud father and husband. A good man. The world is better because of his contributions.”
— Lisa Meyer Trigg, Greencastle
“Classy! Enjoyed our conversations through the years. He will be missed by coaches and athletes throughout the Wabash Valley. Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.”
— Todd Woelfle, Terre Haute
“My goal growing up in Greencastle was being named in any of his many sports articles. I luckily made it a couple of times and I have kept them for 40+ years. Godspeed Steve Fields. You left your mark. Be proud, Joe and family.”
— Jeff Bruce, Evansville
“I had known Steve as a reporter for over 30 years. I always liked the way he treated others and was a genuinely nice guy that cared greatly for his family and friends. He will be missed.”
— Herb King, Covington
“Gutted to hear about the passing of Steve Fields. He wrote about my first home run in Little League, my first basket in junior high, and my last save in the 89 Regional. My scrapbook would be empty if it wasn’t for Steve and I thank him for that. Fly high my friend. RIP.”
— Eric Twigg, Greencastle
“Greencastle and West Central Indiana lost a great man. Steve Fields came into our homes each day as a sports writer—and he was a great one. Always chasing the story and highlighting the awesome accomplishments of local athletes. I got to know Steve better when we served together on the City Council. Steve had a big heart for the less fortunate and was devoted to serving the residents of Greencastle. Steve was also a helluva fighter—staring cancer down and beating the odds time after time. But Steve’s proudest role was that of a husband and father. I don’t know if there was ever a Dad more proud of his son than your Dad was of you, Joe Fields. Lots of love and prayers to you and Monique. Rest In Peace, Steve. I will miss you.”
— Tyler Wade, Greencastle
“Steve was a mentor, friend, confidant and one of my biggest cheerleaders. That he took a chance on a wet-behind-the-ears kid from IU, introduced me to a new community and taught me the business will never be forgotten. Steve believed in serving others. He did it every day whether at the B-G or on the city council. And he loved you, your brother & your mother. Praying for all of you in this time.”
— Andrew Smith, New Palestine
“This touches my heart. Steve was such a huge part of my athletic career, and a great man.”
— Jarrod Duff, Roachdale
“Joe and Monique, Russ and I are so very sorry for your loss. I saw him at a football game last year and he told me about his diagnosis and what he was going through. We had a good visit. I remember when Russ and John Fallis were coaching football and everyone so appreciated his sports articles about the games and the team. I know he will be so missed in this community.”
— Russ and Janice Hesler, Greencastle
“Deeply saddened by the word of Steve Fields passing. He fought valiantly and with great dignity. I feel so fortunate to have known him and worked along side him through the years. He will be remembered by all as a man of great integrity and conviction, and his example encourages all of us to reach a little deeper to be our best. While I am glad his suffering is over, losing him is a most difficult trial. Our best wishes for his family.”
— Doug Wokoun, Cloverdale
“Joe and Monique, I am so sorry for your loss, but glad his pain is over. When I started my career, Steve was one of my guides. A tireless worker who truly cared about those he covered and wanted to tell their stories. I was so happy that I was able to introduce my son to him and show him an example of living a life with passion and strength. RIP Steve.”
— Bill Wagner, Greencastle
“Joe & Mrs. Fields, sorry to hear about Steve. He was one of the “good guys” in the media field. The athletes and coaches never had a better friend. I know it is an old cliche but “no one can fill his shoes”. I am thankful that I was one of the fortunate ones that had Steve Fields cover so many games I had the honor to coach. He will be missed but the memories will last forever. Prayers will be with you. God Bless!”
— Pat S. Rady, Terre Haute
“Monique and Joe, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve enjoyed Steve’s friendship from high school to Legion baseball through adulthood. He was a good man who liked to see the positive side of people and was a good champion of high school kids. May God give your family peace.”
— Mike McHugh, Coatesville
“Joe: So sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. I met him when I first got to Linton in 1976. He was a very good reporter but more importantly a great person. He will be missed! My condolences to you and your Mom! May your Dad Rest In Peace.”
— Charlie Karazsia, Linton
“Joe, your dad was my first boss. Made me learn how to type until 2am. Made me think about the stories I wrote. And for the first time ever, he has left me without words. He’ll never know the impact on those around him. He will always be legend. Rest In Peace Steve. You deserve the best court side seats heaven can offer.”
— Chris Knauer, Cooper City (Fla.)
“Tears are flowing! Steve Fields was a wonderful friend and will be remembered as long as we live! May his memory be eternal! Our most sincere condolences to all his loved ones.”
— Nick & Marilyn Mourouzis, Greencastle
“I’m so sad to hear this news. When I recently learned he’d been ill, I pulled out my old scrapbooks. Of course his name was on every byline. I’ll always cherish one particular GHS basketball article in which he mentioned it being my mom’s birthday. It was a great game, but Steve knew sports go beyond the box scores- it’s also about family. And memories. Rest In Peace, Steve. Thank you for the memories!”
— Dale Stevenson, Quincy (Ill.)
“I’m so sorry to hear of this news. I remember Steve so vividly during my playing days at DePauw and appreciated his passion for sports. It was so wonderful to reconnect with him in the last couple of years through Facebook. RIP Steve and thanks for all the words you provided throughout the years in describing the passion of sports!”
— Phil Wendel, Beirut (Lebanon)
"Steve and I worked side by side for years. We even swapped jobs as he took over for me at the Journal and I took over for him at the Banner. We both got the honor of covering the Bell game from a unique perspective. He was always willing to help me out and we became close.”
— Barry Lewis, Waynetown
"He was such a good man. Everyone loved him. Troy has newspaper articles that are on plaques that your dad wrote. They are treasures. He always had a smile for everyone, and everyone loved him. I am so sorry for your loss and for the world’s loss. I am glad he is in heaven, where illness is no longer, but I wish he didn’t ever have to deal with it here. Sending you and your mom our love Joey!”
— Becky Dawson-Greenlee, Worthington