N.J. sports writer passes 1,000 games covered

This article was written for my Sports Writing class at Temple University.
Mike Ashmore is well-known for his minor league baseball coverage, but has expanded to other sports. (Candice Monhollan)

Mike Ashmore is well-known for his minor league baseball coverage, but has expanded to other sports. (Candice Monhollan)

Sometimes for journalists to catch their break, it takes being in the right place at the right time.

In the case of Mike Ashmore, it was sitting in his sports journalism class at Raritan Valley Community College in 2003 that got him the start he needed.

“The Somerset Patriots beat writer for the Hunterdon County Democrat, Scott Stanchak, was in my class,” Ashmore said. “I happened to be taking a look at some pictures of Patriots games that I had taken on my computer and he needed someone to help him out with pictures for the season.”

Stanchak brought Ashmore on to help him during the season and by the end, he progressed into writing. In 2006, Ashmore took over for Stanchak and became the Patriots beat writer and has since added the Trenton Thunder as well, he said.

The 29 year old got his start in minor league baseball and is now in his 10th season and just passed his 1,000th game covered, but they haven’t all been about baseball. He has also ventured into other sports, including hockey, basketball, football and the UFC.

Ashmore has varied in leagues as well, going from the minors up to the major leagues.

“There was some aspect of wanting to expand,” Ashmore said. “I wanted to have more versatility in my resume and my portfolio. I wanted to show that I could do more than just baseball.”

The native of Three Bridges, N.J., may be the Patriots beat writer for the Hunterdon County Democrat, but he is also a “freelance extraordinaire,” as he calls himself on Twitter.

“There are elements of [being a freelancer] that I like,” Ashmore said. “You can pick and choose what you want to do, to some extent, but not being on staff and something as simple as knowing where your next paycheck is going to come from is tough.”

Ashmore says his goal is to one day become a beat writer for a big league team, though he does see the value out of his years as a freelancer.

“The goal is to be full-time one day, but I’ve got a lot of great experiences out of being freelance,” he said.

Over the years, Ashmore has had the opportunity to interview big name stars, such as David Ortiz, Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, Allen Iverson and Eli Manning.

“The day I got to interview Chuck Liddell and Alex Ovechkin, that was really cool,” Ashmore said. “I interviewed two athletes that I think people all across the country and the world would know who they are.”

Though his list of big-time interviews is long, he does admit that he enjoys talking with the not-so-known players.

“Honestly, the guys who generally give you the best stuff are the guys who you might not really hear too much about,” Ashmore said. “I’ve done so much work in minor league sports to where you can spend 15 or 30 minutes with a guy and just get really awesome stuff. You might never even hear from them again. They may never make the big leagues.”

Over his 10-year-career, Ashmore has gone through rough times and has covered things big and small, and he has learned valuable lessons along the way.

“I worked my first three years for free,” Ashmore said. “There’s no opportunity that’s too small. You never know where things are going to lead, you never know who you’re going to meet [and] you never know what you’re going to do. The things you need to know you learn while you’re doing it. There’s no better tool than actually having experience.”

*Visit Ashmore’s blog on the Trenton Thunder here.
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