Peter Weiss would be a happy man today. He’s finally made the sports pages.
The brilliant, well-respected political reporter and columnist for the Jersey Journal for last three decades died last Saturday from complications after open-heart surgery. It’s a loss that hit many people close to home, including yours truly, who knew Pete for nearly 20 years and adored him like the thousands of readers who religiously followed his musings.
But while Pete was known for his quick wit and satirical splendor that filled the pages of the JJ, there was also another side of Weiss that wasn’t readily known – that he was an avid sports fan who took his love for sports almost as seriously as he did his affection for political rhetoric and banter. In fact, he probably loved sports even more than politics.
Pete was a big baseball fan, always slaving over his fantasy baseball team, trying to make the shrewdest and precise moves and trades, much like a major league general manager. I had the fortune of being in the same league with Pete one year, and believe me, trying to get a player from him in a trade was about as easy as finding an honest politico in Hudson County.
He was also an avid softball player. Although not blessed with the best size and stature in the world, Weiss made sure that the Jersey Journal had a representative in the New Jersey Press League for many years and was the pitcher on the team, even if the JJ’s teams weren’t the most competitive.
In fact, when the Jersey Journal challenged the Hudson Reporter to a softball contest several years ago, it was Weiss who was in the middle of the fray, making the sure the game came to fruition. Sure enough, the game was played – and finally, Weiss was on a winning team.
I had the pleasure to play against Pete on several occasions, and his good humor about playing softball was something to look forward to.
Peter Weiss was also one of the nicest people in the world. He had a heart that thoroughly dwarfed him in size, a good heart that cared about so many people.
When I was working for the Hudson Dispatch, I had a friend who had a daughter who was interested in finding a job in the journalism field. While the Dispatch wasn’t hiring at the time, I called Pete to see if the Jersey Journal was hiring. Not only did the young lady get a job, but she also had the experience of a lifetime, getting to learn under the tutelage of a wizard like Pete.
He didn’t have to do that for a writer working for the opposing newspaper. He didn’t have to take the time to help someone he didn’t even know. But because the request came from me, he went out of his way to help the young lady.
The funny thing is, she never stuck it out in journalism, telling me years later that she wanted to get a real job. Much like all of us in the field still want to.
In the local journalism field, there are only a handful of irreplaceable beings. Peter Weiss was one of those. No one can ever replace him. No one can even come close. He was a giant, even though he stood 5-foot-4. And it’s so incredible that it was that great heart that gave out on him.
To his wonderful wife, Margaret and to his family and friends who comprise the Jersey Journal, I feel your pain today. I feel like I’ve lost something as well. My heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to you.
The sports world lost a big fan this week. And this writer lost someone he truly admired. – Jim Hague