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Sports Notes - "COLUMNIST JIM MURRAY, ONE OF THE BEST, LAID TO REST"

Jim Murray - Jim Murray Foundation photo

 


James Loving - National Radio Text Service

 

 

I didn't know he was one of the first reporters to start Sports Illustrated. I didn't know he wrote about entertainment and interviewed the likes of Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Mario Lanza and Marilyn Monroe. I didn't know he was a correspondent for Time Life magazine. I didn't know he was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1987 for "meritorious contributions for baseball writing." I didn't know over a 16 year period he was voted national sportswriter of the year 14 times, with 12 times in succession.

 

 

Los Angeles, California USA

Saturday August 22, 1998

The recent passing of famed columnist JIM MURRAY this past Sunday, August 16th at the age of 78 was a great loss to those who read his work and by those of us who were fortunate enough to be around him. After covering entertainment [like Murray] and music business for 14 years, I got involved in sports reporting in 1989.

My recollection of my first encounter with Murray was in the Rose Bowl press box, early on in my sports reporting career when he graciously shared his thoughts with me on journalism. Here was a legend in his own time taking time to share his thoughts with someone who was new in the business and trying to figure out what was going on.

I was surprised to find we shared many of the same feelings on what was important. The people who played the game and their thoughts were most important; the nuts and bolts weren't that significant. Though Murray carried himself with a low profile he was the MICHAEL JORDAN of sports writing and, like Jordan, he took the time to share his thoughts with me.

To me... no-one is sacred. We're all flesh and blood, human and capable of human errors and mistakes. Though I never felt like Murray's buddy, when I would see him from time to time, his straight look in the eye and nod of acknowledgment was enough to gain my respect. He took the time to communicate, in his own way, when others felt they were too important [in their own minds] to do so. He was a PULITZER PRIZE winning journalist, they weren't....GO FIGURE. For him to talk to you didn't require pedigree, he accepted you as a HUMAN BEING.

Murray was unlike other reporters in the press box. He was direct, honest and forthright. This is a rare quality among sports media today. Unlike other reporters, I never heard him running his mouth talking nonsense or about nothing. He was a quiet man. If he had something to say it was worth listening to. Usually you would see him in deep thought or observing what was going on around him.

When the bespectacled Murray was present in the locker room for interviews after a game, it was as if GOD was there. I've never seen anyone disrespect him or interrupt him when he was interviewing someone. THIS IS RARE TREATMENT and RESPECT from members of the media. It was the type of respect you don't give to a fellow journalist... but TO YOUR FATHER.

He wasn't caught up with who he was. He didn't need hero worship. He was a street kind of guy. He gave me the impression that if you were walking down the street together and a problem came up, he wouldn't run, but... he would COVER YOUR BACK. He could hang with anyone. He knew how to say DEEZE - DEM & DOZE with intellect and class. He was a straight shooter. Not the wordy, pound your chest, look at what I know and who I am type of sports journalist the predominantly exists today. He wasn't caught up in his celebrity.

It wasn't important that I agreed with him but he gained my respect by the way he handled himself in a dignified earthy manner. He said more with a straight look in the eye and a nod of the head than many journalists today can say writing a million words. You knew this guy had substance. HE... WAS A MAN.

Murray wrote about everything in sports...if it was about people. I sat next to his wife on the bus ride back to the hotel after the 1992 Super Bowl XXVI, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She told me that he loved golf. It was funny... to hear it from her made Jim Murray seem almost human.

In reality he was more human than any of us would ever hope to be. It was his wife's personal insight that gave me that perspective. I found it kind of cute. The information didn't come from him or something that was written about him... it came from someone who loved him.

What's remarkable to me is that I didn't really know who Jim Murray really was until his passing when I read of all of his great achievements. I didn't know he was one of the first reporters to start Sports Illustrated. I didn't know he wrote about entertainment and interviewed the likes of Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Mario Lanza and Marilyn Monroe. I didn't know he was a correspondent for Time Life magazine.

I didn't know he was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1987 for "meritorious contributions for baseball writing." I didn't know over a 16 year period he was voted national sportswriter of the year 14 times, with 12 times in succession.

In my travels through Asia, Murray seemed to be everywhere. I read his column in the Bangkok Post whenever I visited Thailand.

JIM MURRAY'S manly presence will be greatly missed in the press box. He was THE LAST OF HIS KIND. If he leaves a LEGACY for today's journalists, it is how to be..... PROFESSIONAL and RESPECTFUL with DIGNITY and CLASS.

 

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