What’s an agate?

If you’ve never read a physical sports page, you’ll need this to continue


I’ve never been good with crafting names for blogs, headlines, you name it. My specialty is in the meat and potatoes of the writing, which is why you’re here. Thanks and big props to my good friend Joe Sheehan for help with this one.

Thanks to Joe, this blog has a name: Tales from the Agate. It’s an obscure reference, one that required even this writer to do some quick research. But once I understood that the Agate is the type used by newspapers and print publications to get every score and stat from the previous day into their paper, it all came together.

If we’re going to put a fine point on it, here you go. Merriam-Webster lists as its third definition the following for the Agate:

a: a size of type approximately 5¹/₂ point

b: condensed information (such as advertisements or box scores) set especially in agate type

If that doesn’t help you, here’s a better example:

Either way, the Agate was how I learned about all of the sports, not just the big four (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB). It’s also where this pseudo-high school sports star got to see her name in print over her four years. Swimming and water polo, especially for high school, were not high on the LA Times’ list of featured sports. I don’t necessarily blame them.

The Agate brings back memories of sitting at the kitchen table at the house I grew up in. Eating a bowl of cereal or crunching on some toast, while simultaneously scouring through tiny print lines looking at box scores, final tallies, stats and more. This female sports fan, who was never any good at playing the big four (hence the swimming and water polo notoriety), now had a ticket to understanding what she was seeing on the screen or reading about in the articles featured on page one.

The Agate is where I learned about tennis, soccer, auto racing, and Olympic trial results. It’s where I learned the vernacular of sports acronyms, way before words like “BIBAP” or “WAR” were part of the sports world. The Agate was the primer for my entry into the world of sports fandom.

In today’s world of instant results, scores on your phone, and dying print journalism, the Agate is probably one of the things I miss the most when I get up in the morning to start my day. So this blog will be a tribute to all things to be found on the Agate, not just the big four.

I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts here, whether they’re mainstream or controversial. And hoping that the readers will appreciate my point of view as an athlete of an obscure set of sports, who loves the big guys just as much as the little guys, as long as there’s something printed each morning in that 5.5 font at the back of the Sports page.

Bio: Ashley Ragland doesn’t want to hear any flak about how a SoCal native can love the Red Sox and Patriots as much as she does. For more thoughts and opinions on life, sports, and everything in between, you can find her on Twitter (@ashleyragland14) and Instagram (@ashleykate314).

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