Seamon made fantasy football much more fun | Sports

OLEAN — Yesterday afternoon was a sad one for me.

It was time to say “good-bye” to a friend of over 35 years.

My introduction to George Seamon came in the mid-1980s when we played in the now-defunct Times Herald Volleyball League.

An engineer at what was then Dresser-Clark, he was a big man with intellect, a keen sense of humor and an admirable streak of empathy that believed his size.

I liked him right away, but got to know him best when he joined the Times Herald Fantasy Football League in 1990.

For the next 32 years he was part of the THFFL, which former Times Herald staffer Pete Dougherty and I started in 1981, and whose 16-member group has seen only one member change since 2002.

Over that span, George won four championships, but most of all he took pride in being a member of a group that hails from five states besides New York: Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia and Texas.

Then there was the eclectic membership: three sports writers, a trio of engineers, a newspaper consultant, a high school principal, an assistant principal and a guidance counselor, a shipbuilding accountant, a college sports communications vice president, a computer programmer, a not -for-profit executive, a landscaper and a businessman.

But what made the league unique, besides the geographical disparity, was the camaraderie. No matter what our occupations, there was no pecking order … all of us had carte blanche to make fun of each other and took full advantage of the privilege.

SADLY, one of those gently needling voices was silenced last Thursday when George, at age 76, unexpectedly died of heart issues at his home in Allegany. His passing from him was upsetting to me, and not merely because, separated by five months in age, we were the league’s “geezers”… a reality about which we often joked. What made him special, though, was while George wanted to win, it wasn’t paramount. There were enough different cash payouts that everybody got something and even the winner wasn’t about to book a weekend in Manhattan.

The fun of the THFFL was being part of it.

And our league changed for the best in 1995 when the late Kevin Austin, a native of Wellsville and certified computer whiz, created MyFantasyLeague, a company that crafted software for scoring fantasy sports.

The THFFL, one of fantasy football’s oldest leagues at 41 years, for the first 14 of them left Dougherty to handle the cumbersome task of both compiling the scoring AND writing a weekly newsletter.

Draft night consisted of local participants gathering in the Times Herald conference room with me on the phone calling every out-of-area member to get their picks.

Austin, who tragically died of a heart attack at age 47, drastically changed the ease of fantasy sports with his website, not the least of which was ours with its widely-scattered membership.

Now we were a few keystrokes away from updated scoring, made-easy drafting and myriad other ancillary features.

George was the one who benefited most, given his international travel schedule as he worked 40 years for Dresser-Clark and its two subsequent iterations, Dresser-Rand and Siemens.

Some years he’d apologize for being in India, Japan or some other faraway country with a dramatically different time zone and unreliable wifi. But he never failed to make his draft choices on time.

And, it’s not hyperbole to say that George, more than any league member, enjoyed and appreciated the THFFL.

He unfailingly wrote to both Pete and I, at season’s end, to thank us for running a league that he found so entertaining and amusing.

In his final email to Dougherty, last February, he talked about winning $190 in the Dresser-Rand league, which survived the company’s sale, and concluded, “It’s easier to draft well against a bunch of draftsmen and engineers than against the grizzled veterans in your league. I do look forward to participating in these endeavors and will feel a little emptiness until September.”

Well, George, we’ll feel the emptiness of your absence long past next football season.

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