by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor

like to joke that jobs at TGS are much like the US Supreme Court...both are lifetime appointments. But that might not be wholly accurate. In the current lineup of Justices, Antonin Scalia is the longest-serving member, and his appointment commenced in September of 1986. Meanwhile, six of the full-time employees at TGS pre-date Scalia’s term in the Supreme Court, while among the other Justices, only Anthony Kennedy ('88), in addition to Scalia, pre-dates any of our other full-time staff!

Which is why when there is a change in the composition of the TGS “Court” lineup, it’s a bit newsworthy to us. And so it is as September comes to a close, as an employee who pre-dates all others in the current composition of TGS is calling it a career. Chief Statistician Tad Ludes, one of the most unique, and certainly one of the most endearing, of many characters who have graced the TGS roster over the years, will be retiring from full-time duty at the end of this month.

Tad was so important to us at that we believe anyone who has read and enjoyed TGS through the years deserves to hear about this interesting fellow, who over the decades has been as key to the timely production and content of our publications as anyone else.

Tad’s contributions to the cause at TGS are hard to quantify because it is so difficult to measure all that he has done in helping to smooth our entire publishing operation. More than we could ever state, we appreciated Tad’s attention to detail, which was legendary. The tedious stat calculations, pointspread updates, and team logs were only part of what came under Tad’s purview, which also included providing the weekly publication “skeletons” for our football and basketball forecasts. Within those were even more stats and past performance records, including all-time results between the competing teams. Indeed, Tad would effectively tee up the publications for us each week and allow us to finish the job.

Best of all with Tad, we never had to worry about any stat being wrong, or score out of place, or pointspread inaccuracy. Tad’s errors were so few that even Cal Ripken, Jr.’s fielding average would stand in envy. Moreover, everything was always produced in a timely manner. Tad was less likely to miss a deadline than a politician turning down a contribution. And he was never involved in any significant dispute.

It does, however, take a unique sort to be a valued statistician. One must be meticulous, fastidious, even a bit persnickety, to do the job right. Tad was all of those...but endearingly so, as he would pleasantly correct any of our errors. No detail was small enough to escape his review; in fact, I would always smile when Tad pointed out differences of five or ten cents on the daily baseball lines when we would be calculating our MLB records. None of it was remotely an annoyance to us, because Tad made it cool to be quirky. Indeed, it was a great comfort to know that Tad was around to get the numbers right, because sometimes we didn’t.

(Now you know why we rolled out our full 21-gun salute for Tad!)

Though most of us at TGS have spent the majority of our adult lives working for the company, all have life stories leading up to days spent with the Sheet. And Tad’s tale was among the most interesting, especially preceding his first stint at TGS way back in 1974.

Tad grew up in the L.A. area, in the Hollywood Hills just below the famous sign, and attended Hollywood High a few years after Jill St. John but right around the time of another famous actress, Barbara Hershey. Tad would attend LA City College and Cal State LA, where, as he said, “I went through three majors, because no one knew what to do with someone who wanted to become a sports statistician.” When Tad’s student deferment expired, he was drafted in 1969, serving in the US Army at Fort Ord in Monterey, CA and then at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma in Washington state. As luck would have it, however, he never got called into combat duty in Vietnam. “Everyone around me seemed to get the call,” said Tad. “Instead, I was in Special Services drawing up tournament schedules for my first six months or so at Ford Ord, but they saw I was enjoying myself too much so they switched me to a clerk-typist for the rest of my hitch at Fort Lewis.”

When Tad’s Army stint concluded in 1971, he returned to school at Cal State Northridge, where he would begin to work in the Sports Information Office under SID Joe Buttitta, who himself would go on to become a prominent sportscaster in Los Angeles. Tad, however, would move from CSN to TGS. “Dennis Minishian (a prominent L.A.-based sports statistician) suggested I interview with his friend Mort Olshan about a job at The Gold Sheet,” Tad recalls. “So Mort hired me as his chief statistician in 1974.”

Tad would officially have three stints at TGS, interrupted by a move to San Diego to start a casino party business, then an eventual move to Ventura. Tad would thus become one of the first “telecommuters” in 1988, and has been employed constantly by TGS since. Overall, his TGS tenure covers 32 years.

What most of us also admire about Tad is his complete lack of pretension. Tad has always known what he likes...sports, and in particular, his beloved baseball, in which he has also held a handicapping role at TGS for decades. Some of Tad’s greatest joys were taking baseball vacation tours with other like-minded souls who would be regaled by baseball movies on the motorcoaches that would transport them all to various ballparks. One of Tad’s favorite such tours took him to minor league stadiums. He was also a connoisseur of ballpark food. How could this guy not be beloved? Though he has known heartache lately, too, losing his dear wife Susan, who loved baseball almost as much as he, earlier this year.

It is no surprise that Tad’s love of baseball would mean he would also value the bullpen at TGS, and he is turning over his duties to the very capable Mike Randleman, who has filled various roles at TGS for the past 25 years and has worked closely with Tad in the past. Like Allstate, we’ll be in good hands with Mike, though Tad is not going to completely cut the cord with TGS, assisting as needed on a consulting basis. In the meantime, Tad will have more time to focus on his other main interest, seniors softball, whose many tournaments will now feature a fully-focused Ludes. Look out, because Tad will soon be competing for a USA-select team in an upcoming seniors international softball tourney!

In conclusion, we can say assuredly that we at TGS have been far better for our association with Tad, as have our readers. A big thanks to Tad somehow doesn’t seem enough to honor his service. But knowing Tad as we do, he’ll probably find that more than sufficient.

(Note: Thanks to Tad's daughter Annie for the illustration on the homepage!)

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