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CALDWELL: Goodbyes are bittersweet 

As a journalist, maybe it is fitting that I start with a story.

I’ve always been a sucker for sports movies. Pretty much all of them. I’ll probably tear up watching a biopic about the world’s greatest water polo player or an underdog tale about a team of rag-tag checkers champions.

But one of my favorites is “For Love of the Game” with Kevin Costner, even though it may be his third-best baseball movie.

Here is the Reader’s Digest version: Pitcher Billy Chapel is in the 19th year of his career, doing some serious soul-searching in the middle of throwing a perfect game on the backend of a tough season. The owners have just told him they have sold the Tigers and one of the first moves will be to trade him from the only team for which he has ever played.

After agonizing over walking away from something that has been his life for two decades, he writes on a baseball and tosses it to a manager: “Tell them I’m through. For love of the game.”

Melodramatic? Sure. But the idea of knowing when to say goodbye to something you love — before it becomes something you don’t — always resonated with me.

There are no new owners. I’m not getting traded. The only curveball in my story may be the coronavirus and its devastating impact on the job market and our economy.

Nevertheless, I believe it is time for me to walk away.

It pains me — and makes me feel a little selfish — to leave a job when so many others have lost their employment or are unable to work, but this transition process began well before the global pandemic and it was impossible to reverse course.

In life, just like in baseball, timing is everything. We control it as best we can and then have faith that everything will work out.

I’ve put my heart and soul into creating great community newspapers for more than 18 years. It has been immeasurably rewarding on so many levels.

I am forever grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and proud of the achievements our teams have made over the past two decades. Professional awards and achievements have been great but, by far the most rewarding part has been the relationships I’ve built with coworkers and readers, as well as the positive impact the newspapers have made in our communities.

But the late nights, long hours and 24/7 demands have also come at significant cost to my family and my health. I have made many sacrifices over the years, and cannot lose any more precious and irretrievable time with my daughters.

I have no idea yet what the next chapter holds, but it is time to start one. This move was started well before the coronavirus disrupted our lives, and it is too late to turn back now.

The newspaper will be in good hands. I will be working with my successor, as soon as that person is named, to ensure a smooth transition.

My passion for journalism and storytelling hasn’t faded. I truly believe community newspapers remain critically important to our future — perhaps more so than ever.

But my heart also tells me it is time to go. For love of the game.

Michael Caldwell plans to continue to live in central Kentucky with his family. He can be reached by email at his work address mike.caldwell@bluegrassnewsmedia.com for a few more weeks as well as his personal email at gmacaldwell@gmail.com.