EDITOR’S NOTE: Ed Petruska, a retired longtime sports editor for the Casa Grande Dispatch, wrote this column about Joe Meahl, a longtime editor and writer for the same company who died on April 14.
When I first met Joe Meahl in May 1979, shortly after being hired by Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc., the one thing that impressed me is he smoked a pipe.
Now in those days, this was not necessarily uncommon. Still, I had to smile to myself. Who smokes a pipe (besides my dad, who had a great pipe collection) and does so in the newsroom? Everybody else (well, some people) would smoke cigarette after cigarette. This was the established practice.
Joe would come into the office at 200 W. Second St. every week to make sure the newspaper he edited, the Eloy Enterprise, would meet his specifications. I could sense he was very proud of the job he did. Having worked at a “weekly” before I came to Casa Grande, I know how tough the job is.
After I got to know Joe a little bit, we talked about football. Eloy Santa Cruz was a storied powerhouse, having produced the Malone brothers — Art and Benny — as the most notable. Joe made sure to mention this to me.
One time during his visit to Casa Grande, I was curious to know how he would write up a 0-0 tie that happened the previous Friday (this will never, ever happen again but I love writing about a 0-0 tie).
So Joe explained his strategy. Joe, who died at 74 on April 14 and was nine years older than me, told me this:
He covered every play, starting with the pregame coin toss.
I laughed when he told me that. I thought he was pulling my leg. Then I read the Enterprise. Half of the front page was devoted to the football game. When it came to football, Joe was the absolute best as a newspaper editor knowing what his readers wanted to read.
One of my fondest memories is the pregame dinner/barbecue prior to the Santa Cruz-Coolidge football game back in the 1980s. It would switch each year from Joe’s place in Eloy to Lyle Piggott’s place in Coolidge (Lyle was the editor of the Coolidge newspaper).
The bantering was always good-natured.