Jack of all trades journalist Rich Curbelo, 51, showed up in the Tigers press box wearing a wrinkled purple casino dealers shirt. He’d just gotten the gig as a black jack dealer, pulled the shirt out the bag, and hustled to Comerica Park to work his primary gig.
“Son, get that shirt ironed,” I jokingly barked at him.
Curbelo sheepishly apologized. I told him it was OK. I knew he was doing what he had to do. The brother was always hustling. He worked at one of the casinos as a black jack dealer. He eventually lost that job because of the boorish behavior of former Detroit Piston guard Allen Iverson, who used to be a disruptive force in Atlantic City and Detroit casinos.
Curbelo worked in Detroit sports for a number of years, but do not feel bad if you don’t know who he is. His byline wasn’t in The News or Free Press. He didn’t have a show at 97.1 The Ticket, WDFN or 105.1.
But he was always around hustling for sound as a free lancer and owner of a website called InDbeat sports where he often did a YouTube sports show on location at various sporting events and bars. I stood next to him dozens of times as he gathered sound for a variety of radio stations, nodding his head as athletes spoke.
Many of us in the media knew of Curbelo, but we didn’t know much about him.
We are getting our information of his final days from the tireless reporting of Eric Starkman on DeadlineDetroit.com who confirmed that Curbelo died while undergoing a colonoscopy at Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital. Curbelo weighed about 300 pounds and anesthesiologists decided to do an intubation where a tube is placed down a patient’s throat to assist with breathing. According to Deadline Detroit Curbelo began choking and gasping when the tube was removed. Now Beaumont and the agency it subcontracts out to, North Star Anesthesia, are under scrutiny.
The scary thing is I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy in the same room where Curbelo died. But Beaumont still did the anesthesia at the time. The hospital partnered with North Star in a money saving move, according to Deadline Detroit.
Curbelo was part of a sub culture of sports journalist who worked as reporters or producers at stations that were off the beaten path. Or they worked as freelancers, grabbing every assignment they could. They covered teams for out of town newspapers and radio networks, saving the organization the expense of sending somebody on the road.
Curbelo was one of those guys. However, his main passion was taking care of his 79 year old mom who has dementia. And he was to be married to Connie Strong of Windsor. The sad thing is the couple had not seen each other since August of 2020 because of the United States-Canada border closing due to Covid-19 restrictions.
He is the man that all of us in sports media knew, but we knew little about him.Find Terry Foster Podcast here: