CINCINNATI - It would have been a fools errand: Try to find, among those on hand at a Cincinnati Country Day football game on a soggy Friday night many years ago, one of Cincinnati's most renowned business moguls.
Hint: You wouldn't have found George Strike among the tweedy set in the bleachers. At least that was my experience. In the course of tracking the CCDS Indians that evening circa 1990, I found myself on the Country Day sideline, adjacent to the 'chain gang'. Though fairly nondescript in their garb, bolstered as it was against the elements, one man stood literally head and shoulders above the others.
He was riveted on his role so it was only during a time out that he took notice of my presence. "Hi, I'm George Strike", he stated. " The George Strike," I wondered? "The George Strike" after all was a businessman of huge consequence and no small reputation. Not to mention a partner in the Cincinnati Reds, who would go on to Chair UC's Board of Trustees.
After introducing myself and the reason for my presence, the quizzical look that crossed my face spurred him to offer up an explanation for his, at least in such a functionary role.
"They needed someone to do it. And my son is on the team. This way I know everyone gets a square deal," Strike said.
And that as they say, was the beginning of a friendship that has ended far too soon with Strike's passing.
In subsequent chats, Strike detailed how he'd enlisted the talents of a professional photographer to capture shots of Country Day players during that championship season, for inclusion in a scrapbook. Compiled not just for his son Christian mind you, but one for each of his senior teammates as well, composed of individual action photos of their exploits, to be presented at the team's awards banquet.
That struck me as high mindedness and team spirit of the first order. Such was the character of George Strike.
Over the ensuing years, I came to appreciate that one of the perks to covering Reds Fest or Spring Training or the team's private workout before opening day, was the chance to visit with George as he offered his candid assessment of the team and our times in general. He had an awareness of everything going on in Greater Cincinnati and could provide a back story on the intrigue that fashioned otherwise inexplicable civic and business occurrences.
Not that he ever spoke out of school or betrayed confidences. Having him in charge of something was to breed a confidence that it would be completed and in a forthright manner. His word was his bond. Reminiscent of those words uttered so many years before at our first meeting.
"This way I know everyone gets a square deal."
My deepest personal condolences to Christian, Tony and George's entire family and many friends. We won't see his like again.
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