Then, when you reach an age where you are starting to get a feel for the big picture, reality hits. You find out friends have passed away, and no matter how long you have known them, it seems too early for that to happen.
I got to know Tom in 1980, the final year I covered the then-California Angels and the first year he was on the beat, having replaced Dick Miller as the beat reporter for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. And I got to spend time working alongside him the last couple of years, after I joined MLB.com as a columnist. Tom had been one of the company's original hires, and he had stepped in to fill a void covering the Pittsburgh Pirates for the past four years.
We used to have some conversations that went deeper than baseball.
Saddened to hear of the passing of MLB's Tom Singer. Great representation of what covering Baseball should be. Prayers go out to his family.
I would marvel at Tom's story of being a youngster when his family fled Hungary and settled in Pittsburgh, and the adjustments he faced in coming to the new home. And he would pick my mind about being a member of a Wyoming pioneer family. I told him my ancestors must have been fleeing, too, because who on earth would actually have chosen to be the original white men to settle in southeastern Wyoming?
Most of all, though, over time, we would have fun discussions about the wonderful movie Tom wrote, "Microwave Massacre," starting Jackie Vernon. I always teased him that his movie was the inspiration for Jeffrey Dahmer. Just last summer, Tom made mention that he still got royalty checks on occasion, although they were usually a single figure ahead of the decimal point.
When Clint Hurdle took the managerial job in Pittsburgh, I told him about Tom and his screenwriting abilities. Tom called early that spring, and he was giggling.
"Because he was reciting lines from 'Microwave Massacre,'" Singer told me.
Hurdle and Singer bonded. They were a natural fit.
Life isn't always fair. Tom took over the Pirates' beat when mlb.com needed someone to step in. He did it even though he lived in the Phoenix area, and it would mean lengthy periods of time away from his wife. The past season was his last one on the beat.
Tom was looking forward to the coming year. He was going to be based out of Phoenix. He was going to get time at home.
The man upstairs better be ready. I guarantee you he's going to have to sit through "Microwave Massacre" and he's going to hear some of the punniest puns a man has ever spoken.
I will definitely miss Mr. Singer.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.