“Here, I’ll show you,” Gregg Mace told me in 2010 as he pushed open the door and walked me down the steps towards the Hershey Bears locker room. I was visiting Giant Center for the first time as a credentialed reporter. I was nervous and lost. I felt like a fan who was intruding. I had no idea where I was going. I lacked confidence that my vision of sports reporting could work.
Mace saw my doubt. He had seen it before. The longtime abc27 sports anchor had mentored countless people over his four decades on television, including ESPN’s Karl Ravech. Mace was encouraging, optimistic, and freely shared his wisdom.
“I know you’re looking to do features and do more fun things. RMNB is great for that. But when the Bears lose, they’re never in the mood to talk about things like that,” Mace told me that night. “Ask them things related to the game, and if you see an opening, go for it. But for more personality-driven questions, you should ask them after practice. Things are looser then.”
He was right. He was always right. Mace gave me so much helpful advice over the years that he didn’t have to. I was just a blogger; he was a titan of the industry.
But Mace was a natural steward and ambassador. Support was just in his nature. He loved the Hershey Bears and wanted the player/reporter relationship to be healthy. He would criticize me sometimes. He built me up other times. He’d call me when he had ideas. He was never scared to be honest because honesty, even though it can suck sometimes, is how you can improve. He was one of the friendliest and most enthusiastic people I have ever met in my life – his wife Caroline, too.
RMNB would not be what it is without him, and I would not be who I am without him.
Gregg died Saturday at age 65. I cried when I saw the news. I am heartbroken now as I write this, tears streaking down my chubby cheeks. I can’t imagine how this has been for Caroline and his son Kyle. I’m sad for them, and I’m sad for any of you who never got to know how special this man was. I’ll try my best to articulate it.
In 1979, Mace started at abc27 as the station’s first ever weekend sports anchor. He got promoted to the station’s sports director soon after that, and he remained there for the next four decades. Mace covered Penn State, the Harrisburg Senators, the Hershey Bears, the Washington Capitals, and National Championship games.
A Baltimore native, he never missed an Orioles’ opening day game for over five decades.
He interviewed such greats as Muhammad Ali, Brooks Robinson, and Gordie Howe.
He recently won the Silver Circle Award for lifetime achievement at the Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards.
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But Gregg’s greatest accomplishment is his son Kyle. I first met the Maces when Kyle started contributing to RMNB in 2010. Kyle was an enthusiastic, budding photographer with an interest in doing more behind-the-scenes work in sports media. Kyle covered Capitals center Boyd Gordon making a rehab appearance in Hershey with the Bears for RMNB. His warm-up photos were beautiful. We worked together more, and eventually, I went up to Hershey to cover the Bears too.
The relationships I made with the Maces and Bears players led to me befriending and (poorly) interviewing Andrew Gordon a few times. During the 2010 Calder Cup Finals, Gordon agreed to blog about the experience on RMNB. At that point in time, it was the biggest thing we had ever done as a media site, and it happened because of the Maces.
Kyle continued to contribute to RMNB until we created a spin off-site that eventually became Chocolate Hockey. You can see Gregg’s vision and Kyle’s talent in Chocolate Hockey’s videos.
I admire Kyle’s work. I ask him for help now. He is, quite simply, better than me at this. It’s because of his dad and all of those late nights getting experience at the station.
He was a friend for almost 20 years, our sons grew up around each other. He meant so much to so many. I just can’t believe it. Crying as I type the words. Rest In Peace, Gregg, and prayers for Kyle and Caroline. https://t.co/e6lAFRbGa3
— John Walton (@WaltonCaps) November 23, 2019
Gregg left us this weekend, but for me and Kyle and John Walton and the legion of talented reporters that he mentored and trained, the work goes on.
The last time I saw Gregg and Caroline, they were congratulating me on the birth of my son Ethan. I was telling them about a baby hockey net I saw the Bears selling in their team store. I was too busy with covering the game to buy it. It was also too expensive.
At the end of the night, Caroline met me and Gregg in the players’ parking lot. The hockey net was in her trunk. It was their gift to me. “Give this net to Ethan and help him fall in love with hockey as much as you have,” Caroline said to me.
That was just their way. The Mace’s warmth made me feel like I was a part of their family. I know I considered them part of mine. They have spent their lives passing on their love of sports to the next generation. But it’s the kindness, the thoughtfulness, and the love with which they did it that made them special. That’s how I will remember Gregg — as the man who improved the lives of everyone lucky enough to be in his corner of his world with a smile, a laugh, and some quick advice.
That’s what Gregg Mace gave me. That and a baby hockey net.
Thank you, Gregg. Thank you for everything you did for me, for RMNB, and for your son Kyle. I will never forget it, and I will never forget you.
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A celebration of Gregg’s life will be held at Giant Center on Tuesday at 7 PM. We ask that any readers who can, please donate to the Mace Family fund to help Kyle and Caroline during this difficult time.
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