The call came in early in November - there was a mistake, we were told, in a story about Lewistown's volleyball team.
Mistakes do happen, and when they can be verified - yes, we make sure we were wrong, because sometimes the callers are - we publish a correction. It's a time-honored newspaper tradition, albeit one we like to see as little as possible.
Problem is, we couldn't verify the mistake - and thus began a nearly two-month journey through the Panthers' past. To make things worse, the mistake was repeated not once, but twice after it initially appeared in the paper.
So, for the record: The 2010 edition of Lewistown's volleyball team was not the first to qualify and enter the District 6 tournament. In fact, it was the third.
But this one can't pass without a Paul Harvey-type "rest of the story."
When the Panthers won the requisite number of games to enter the tournament, coach Jim Fosselman told us it was, as far as he knew, the first time that had happened in school history. Fosselman, a good guy and a good coach, undoubtedly had no intent to dismiss the accomplishments of the past, but wanted only to say something good about his team.
When the statement appeared in print, a caller said she believed that was not correct - a caller who had better knowledge than most of us when it comes to Lewistown volleyball history, since she lived it. Her name is Georgia Olson, and over the past couple weeks I've had several pleasant conversations with her as we tried to track down the truth.
There was no help to be had from the school's records - athletic director Rick Keefer, giving more time than he probably should have to the past when his job is the athletes of the present, searched exhaustively through the written accounts available to him and old yearbooks, only to come up dry.
Fosselman himself was contacted by someone who knew the first playoff appearance by a Lewistown volleyball team was in 1991. The proof came out of our past - the 1992 version of The Sentinel's fall sports guide spoke of a 9-9 record the prior year, and a trip to districts that ended in the first round.
Olson also got her proof from our pages, again from our fall sports preview, for the 1997 season. Here's where it gets tricky - she gave me the date, and I couldn't prove it again. As it turns out, the microfilm version of The Sentinel from the late 1990s did not include inserts like the sports preview, only the daily pages. Guess where the proof was?
Well, I can tell you where it is - in Georgia Olson's scrapbook. And, thanks to her tenacity, we have proof positive that the team was in the district field - in Class AAA, no less - in 1996. And the preview for the 1997 season mentions one prior trip - presumably the 1991 team - since the team was founded in the late 1980s.
The 1996 team, by the way, posted an impressive 14-9 record, 11-7 in the Keystone League.
So, barring any other trips that all of us who looked into this matter overlooked, we know that this fall's playoff visit was the third for the Panthers. But it's probably the first playoff qualification by any team that has led to so many people researching so deeply into the past to give credit where it's not only due, but in this case overdue.
And next time I need to play detective, I'm going to call Georgia Olson. Sherlock Holmes could not have turned such a twisted tale without her help.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.