Joe Chevalier’s persistence landed a job at Sports Form

Jun 7, 2011 3:00 AM

We first met Joe Chevalier in July 1977. He trudged up the stairs to our second floor office on Main Street in downtown Las Vegas, sweating from the effort and lack of air conditioning, and asked to see the editor. He was looking for a job.

We politely told him the editor wasn’t in and we had no job openings, but if he wanted to leave his name and phone number we’d make sure the editor received the information.

But Joe was persistent. He was not about to be brushed off by a young office girl who obviously was not in charge of hiring. He insisted on knowing when Mr. Di Rocco would return.

Maybe it was his self-assured attitude. Maybe it was the enthusiasm with which he spoke when he explained that Sports Form, as the paper was known in those days, really needed him as a writer. Whatever the reason, we gave him an appointment for the following day, knowing Chuck Di Rocco would not hire this man because we barely had enough money to pay the rent and buy a few groceries. There was nothing left over for writers.

The next day Joe arrived early. He was bubbling over with excitement. During his meeting he regaled Chuck with his talents and knowledge of sports. They bantered back and forth. Somehow, the ability of sports teams from Philadelphia (Chuck’s hometown) and Pittsburgh (Joe’s hometown) became crucial. Neither of them backed down.

Finally, Chuck laughed and said even though Joe was wrong about the Pirates he would give him a chance to write. Not to be outdone, Joe countered that even though Chuck didn’t really know what he was talking about he’d take the job.

The pay was meager, but judging from Joe’s reaction it didn’t matter. He couldn’t wait to get started. On Aug. 7, 1977, his "Bet Me" column debuted.

Over the years Joe was never at a loss for words. The columns seemed to simply flow from his fingers as he banged away at the manual typewriter.

But what he loved more than writing was talking. His life-long dream was to be on the radio. He had a very sharp, quick wit and using it put a bright twinkle in his eyes. He never missed an opportunity. Usually the topic was sports, but he was just as comfortable with other subjects.

Eventually Joe’s radio dreams came true. He left Sports Form, became a top local radio celebrity then went national, moving to Chicago. He was known as "Papa Joe" to his legion of fans.

Throughout the years we listened to his show whenever we could and every time he used his great wit to make a point we could see those twinkling eyes right through the radio.

You will be missed, Papa Joe.

God Bless.

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