From out of the North he came. That one index finger typing away at an unbelievable pace and producing crisp, passionate words. We honor George McClelland, the Bowdoin College-educated wordsmith from Teaneck, N.J. His lyrical prose and love of statistics made him a staple of the Virginian-Pilot sports department for 32 years.
Some called him “Jumpy” because he didn’t slow down. Many nights never saw him sheet-bound for more than three or four hours. He would cover a Friday night prep event, and then take the train to Charlottesville, while away the hours by recording high school wrestling statistics in a compact little notebook that was his constant companion.
McClelland’s “retirement” from the Virginian-Pilot and Ledger Star allowed him to head South and enjoy his first love—baseball—more than ever before. He spent a dozen years, ending in 2000 with the New York Mets’ Rookie League Team in Port St. Lucie, Fla., as general manager/consultant and any other title you wanted to give him. His zeal for baseball caused him to keep a multitude of minute statistics of the accomplishments of the Class AAA International League Tidewater Tides. “They were the most remarkably complete statistics I’ve seen,” said long-time Tides General Manager Dave Rosenfield.
McClelland started his career by spending three years in various capacities with the Claremont, N.H., Daily Eagle, and then came a half-dozen or so years as a reporter and managing editor of the Rock Hill (S.C.) Herald. He was with the Pilot in Norfolk from 1955-87, serving as sports writer and then Executive Sports Editor and covering anything that moved and some that didn’t. He was named top Sports Writer in Virginia in 1987 by the National Sportscasters and Sports Writers’ Association. When he announced his retirement, Larry Bonko of the Pilot wrote appropriately: “Now that he has stopped writing a regular column…I am frankly surprised to see the sun come up.”