INDIANAPOLIS — INDIANAPOLIS — Shortly into Mike Chappell's first summer at the Anderson Daily Bulletin, the newspaper staff went on strike.
So at the very beginning of his professional writing career in 1974, the Ball State graduate returned to Muncie and took a job at the Ball Corporation.
"I had my diploma in one hand and a mop in the other," Chappell said last week at the Indianapolis Colts' practice facility. "I was starting to wonder what I'd gotten myself into."
Fortunately for Colts fans, that bewilderment didn't last long. On April 19, Chappell — who has covered the Colts for the Indianapolis Star since 1984 — was inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame.
"I look at it as a lifetime achievement award," he said. "Usually, in our business you only hear things when you screw up. Very seldom do you hear anything when you do something good. This just means I didn't do things too badly."
Chappell was the sports editor at the Daily Bulletin 30 years ago when he accepted a job at the Indianapolis Star just as professional football was arriving in the state's capitol.
His first assignment was covering the Colts' inaugural training camp at Anderson University. When the team wrapped up the preseason and moved back to Indianapolis, Chappell followed.
"The timing worked out perfectly," he said.
Chappell became the Star's lead beat writer in 1989, and he's one of the longest-tenured writers in the NFL.
Through two Super Bowls with Peyton Manning and the dawn of the Andrew Luck era, however, Chappell's 10 years in Anderson remain among his fondest memories.
"When you work at a small paper, you have to do everything," he said. "I learned more in my first three months on the job than in four years of college."