Suicide may not be pretty but it seems like everybody wants a piece of it…
Including former Kansas City Star sports statistician Martin Manley, a dude who lived his life largely anonymously – in the shadows – all while obviously wanting something more.
Manley got that something after publicly offing himself last week and leaving a pair of websites explaining why.
How inconspicuous was Manley at the newspaper?
Enough so that during the three year overlap between my time and his at the Star, I can’t remember a single encounter, nor could I pick Manley out of a police lineup. And for the most part, nor could the other Star staffers with whom I spoke.
“He was very quiet and a guy of kind of small stature,” said one. “I don’t think he was married. So it doesn’t really surprise me that a guy that age out of a job and isolated would do something like this.”
Obviously Manley wanted to go out with a bang, rather than go quietly in the night.
Prior to offing himself he prepaid for his sports statistics website and his suicide explanation website to continue for another five years.
That is until Yahoo pulled the plug on the latter.
But hey, Manley got what he wanted – plenty of attention.
Everybody from Tony’s Kansas City to the New York Daily News to the United Kingdom’s The Mail weighed in on his bizarre exit. Even the publisher of former KC blog site Bottom Line Communications dug the site back up and posted a short story about Manley’s dramatic death.
“A disgruntled Kansas City sportswriter’s claims that he buried $200,000 in gold and silver coins in local a park before committing suicide has brought on a mad rush of treasure hunters who have arrived with shovels, picks and metal detectors hoping to strike it rich.
“Local police have been forced to post officers to guard the Overland Park Arboretum in Kansas, where Martin Manley indicated his fortune could be hidden. Dozens of people who have sought to dig for the treasure have been turned away.
“Both police and Mr Manley’s family say the promise of buried treasure is a hoax. His family says he sold or gave away all of his precious coins before his death. Police said they swept the area with a metal detector and found nothing.”
Far be it from me to try and tell you what sort of guy Manley was, but I can offer a small window into the type of quiet, reserved people drawn to print journalism, based on my 16 years at the newspaper.
When I arrived at the Star in the early 1990s, diversity was the battle cry and the newspaper held several workshops in my early years that employees were required to attend. As a footnote to that, I can tell you that this is where controversial editorial board sparkplug Louis Diuguid made his mark and began his rapid climb up the newspaper ranks.
But it wasn’t so much the newspaper’s pursuit of diversity that stick’s in my memory today as the group sessions held with reporters in which we were asked to introduce ourselves and tell what it was that drew us to print journalism.
And almost to a man (and obviously woman), the most common reason given was that the reporters were introverted and shy and journalism was a way of forcing them out of their shells into the real world to ask questions and get answers. Questions they otherwise would never dreamed of asking because they were too bookish and not outgoing.
Manley appears to fit this stereotype quite well.
A dude who buried his nose in sports statistics – undoubtedly a low-paying position without a great deal of fanfare or public recognition – let alone star power.
But given the particulars of Manley’s exit, he wanted more and he went about ensuring that he would get that fame and recognition – however fleeting – by planning his sad, pathetic exit.
Just in time for all of us to celebrate Hollywood’s coming soon reincarnation of the original Martin Manley, Walter Mitty.