Legendary columnist Sid Hartman dies at 100


Sid Hartman, who began promoting newspapers in 1928 and wrote about sports activities for the Star Tribune for the following a long time, died Sunday. He was 100.

“My father’s extraordinary and resilient life has come to a peaceable conclusion surrounded by his household,” his son, Chad Hartman, tweeted early Sunday afternoon.

Sid Hartman additionally was for many years a radio voice on WCCO.

Hartman was born on the North Aspect of Minneapolis on March 15, 1920, and he labored for newspapers in his hometown for almost his complete life. On the time of his dying he was nonetheless writing three or 4 columns every week.

He gained a stature only a few journalists have achieved, changing into one in every of this state’s legendary public figures. He was for years an influence dealer within the native sports activities scene, enjoying an integral function within the early success of the Minneapolis Lakers professional basketball group whereas serving because the group’s de facto basic supervisor and dealing behind the scenes to assist convey main league baseball to Minnesota.

He created a rags-to-riches story in contrast to any his hometown has seen, working his means from the very backside of the newspaper business to one of the vital influential and fashionable figures ever to make use of a typewriter, and later pc, for his livelihood. He additionally turned a preferred radio character for WCCO and for 20 years was a panelist on a Sunday night time TV present. If Minnesotans referred to “Sid,’’ there was little doubt who they have been speaking about, a lot the identical as the best of these he lined, males like “Kirby’’ and “Harmon’’ and “Bud.’’

In line with a rely by Star Tribune staffer Joel Rippel, Hartman produced 21,235 bylined tales in his profession, from 1944 till the one which ran on C2 of Sunday’s Sports activities part. That column was his 119th of 2020.

A lot of Hartman’s success may be traced to his relentless reporting model. He developed and nurtured contacts, and his vocation was a labor of affection. Hartman had no false illusions about his writing capability, one of many few newspaper journalists who required one other reporter to jot down his “autobiography.”

Lots of these he encountered in his job turned his closest buddies. Sports activities have been Hartman’s life, across the clock, though in his later years he confirmed his softer facet by changing into a doting grandfather.

The early years

Hartman began promoting newspapers in 1928, a 9-year-old child pedaling his bicycle to Newspaper Alley, the place he would purchase 100 copies of the Minneapolis Star, the Journal, the Morning Tribune or the Night Tribune for $1.10, then promote them for 2 cents apiece.

“For those who offered 100, you made 90 cents,’’ Hartman mentioned.

Hartman’s fundamental process — promoting newspapers — by no means modified, though his outlet for engaging in the duty did, beginning when he was employed by sports activities editor Dick Cullum to work on the sports activities desk of the Minneapolis Instances in 1944.

The Instances was a latter-day model of the Night Tribune. The Instances was folded in 1948. Hartman was rapidly employed on the Morning Tribune by Charlie Johnson, the manager sports activities editor of the Morning Tribune and the afternoon Star.

It was from there, writing his day by day column of reports and notes within the Tribune, that Hartman turned a Minnesota legend.

The periodic readership surveys throughout Hartman’s lengthy tenure on the Tribune (after which the Star Tribune beginning in 1982) all the time informed the identical story: Sid Hartman’s column was a giant purpose that individuals purchased the newspaper.

Hartman additionally labored for WCC0 Radio beginning in 1955. He turned as a lot of a fixture there as he was within the Minneapolis morning newspaper, with day by day call-ins, with coaches’ interviews on pregame reveals and with a long-running Sunday morning present that produced giant rankings.

Hartman was profitable within the enterprise world. He was a accomplice with Al Rubinger within the condominium enterprise. They began Sidal Realty in 1957 with a 26-unit constructing on Blaisdell Av. in Minneapolis and expanded regularly by way of the years. Rubinger handed away on July 21, 2016, on the age of 95. The Rubinger household nonetheless runs the enterprise.

Truly, the partnership of Rubinger and Hartman had began in 1940, after they each have been younger males. They scraped collectively $500 and purchased a lunch counter that additionally had a pool desk. It was positioned throughout the road from 425 Portland Av. South, the handle of the Star Tribune till 2015.

Hartman and Rubinger referred to as it the Press Row Recreation Room. They owned it for 18 months, earlier than promoting for a small revenue. It was there that Hartman acquired to know Cullum and among the different sportswriters.

Hartman had gone from promoting newspapers on corners to a information run for the Tribune circulation division. He would drop newspapers in bulk in an space of town for carriers, then would accumulate from the carriers.

“It was a plum job,’’ he mentioned. “You could possibly make 50 bucks every week — large cash within the late ’30s. I used to be a junior at North Excessive, and I dropped out to take that job.’’

He was in a panic in 1941, when the Tribune and the Instances have been offered to the Cowles household (already the house owners of the Star and Journal) and his information run was eradicated.

“I used to be out of labor,’’ Hartman mentioned in his 1996 autobiography. “I began promoting vacuum cleaners and had an opportunity to be world’s worst vacuum cleaner salesman. Happily, Louie Mohs saved me. He wound up because the circulation supervisor on the Instances. There was just one information run at Instances, within the downtown space, and Mohs gave it to me.’’

The massive break

Cullum was seeking to rent somebody for his Instances sports activities desk in 1944. His pal Mohs mentioned, “I acquired the man for you,’’ and talked about Hartman’s identify.

Cullum knew Sid from earlier, from Hartman hanging round at a spot referred to as Kirk’s pool corridor. Cullum agreed to present Sid a shot — for the kingly sum of $11.50 per week. It was quickly obvious that reporting, not enhancing copy, could be Hartman’s power as a newspaperman.

For his complete profession, Hartman gave Cullum credit score for this recommendation: Don’t fear about writing. Get the information. Writers are simple to seek out. Reporters aren’t.

Hartman mentioned that Cullum, throughout these three-plus years they have been collectively on the Instances, used to taunt the sports activities editors on the highly effective Tribune and Star over the scoops Hartman was delivering.

“This child has the best legs of anyone I’ve seen within the enterprise,’’ Cullum would say.

Cullum was referring to Hartman’s behavior of nonstop enterprise within the search of reports.

He nonetheless had these wonderful legs in 2001, when the NCAA Last 4 was held on the Metrodome.

The room for postgame interviews on the Metrodome was positioned straight up the loading ramp — a haul of a few hundred yards from the court docket and at an incline of 20 levels.

“All of the reporters have been trudging up the ramp, making an attempt to get a number of quotes to beat deadline,’’ mentioned Lenox Rawlings, a sportswriter for the Winston-Salem [N.C.] Journal. “Then, I noticed this man, carrying an historical, giant-sized tape recorder, dash previous all of us and go tearing up that ramp.

“I believed, ‘That appears like Sid.’ I regarded once more and mentioned, ‘It’s Sid.’ ”

Chris Schmitt, Sid’s daughter, mentioned within the 1996 autobiography:

“Did you ever attempt strolling with Sid? We’ll get out of the automotive. I’ll be getting the 2 children organized. I’ll lookup. He’s two blocks away. I’ll begin screaming, ‘Sid. Come again, Sid.’ ”

Hartman saved chugging previous a lot youthful reporters to stay the microphone from that historical tape recorder and those that changed it within the faces of coaches and athletes till the tip of his profession.

The Gophers beat

Hartman had offered newspapers outdoors Memorial Stadium, then sneaked into watch Bernie Bierman’s dynastic soccer groups, beginning within the 1930s by way of 1941. After World Struggle II, Bierman was again as coach and Sid was masking his group.

As vital as was Gophers soccer to the general public by way of 1941, Hartman mentioned the hype and pleasure was a lot higher after World Struggle II.

“The conflict was over, folks had cash and the Large Ten began sending groups to the Rose Bowl,’’ Hartman mentioned. “That was the campaign — to get to the Rose Bowl.’’

Hartman developed a really shut relationship with these post-Struggle Gophers, significantly Bud Grant. Clearly, this later would serve Hartman very nicely when it got here to entry and knowledge. Grant turned the coach of the Vikings in 1967, and turned that soccer group — quite than the Gophers — into an important story in Minnesota sports activities.

Grant remained so near Hartman that, when he determined to retire for the primary time after the 1983 season, he gave the story solely to Sid.

Grant mentioned Hartman was such a continuing presence across the post-Struggle Gophers that the gamers composed this ditty: “Bernie loves us, sure we all know, ’trigger Sid Hartman tells us so.’’

The Gophers missed an opportunity to go to the Rose Bowl in 1949. After they had a dropping season in 1950, the wealthier, louder post-war boosters rose up and Bierman was fired.

By then, Hartman was writing each a day by day column and masking the Gophers for the Minneapolis Tribune. In 1957, he turned the sports activities editor of the Tribune. For greater than a decade, he would write his column six days every week, run the sports activities division and in addition care for his radio duties at WCCO.

Going large league

There have been no clear strains between sports activities journalism and boosterism on this period. John Cowles Sr., the proprietor of the Star and Tribune, wished greater than something to convey a serious league baseball group to Minneapolis.

Charlie Johnson was each the manager sports activities editor of the Star and Tribune and the primary spokesman for the duty power making an attempt to get a ballclub. Hartman was Johnson’s right-hand man, attending league conferences and participating within the behind-the-scenes manipulating to get a group.

As was the customized then, Minneapolis and St. Paul had a troublesome time working collectively. So, the Minneapolis forces constructed Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington and the St. Paul forces constructed Halfway Stadium, they usually fought it out to land a group.

Minneapolis thought it had two golf equipment — first, the New York Giants, then the Cleveland Indians — earlier than convincing Calvin Griffith to maneuver the Washington Senators right here after the 1960 season. Griffith’s group turned the Minnesota Twins and an growth group of Senators was positioned in Washington.

“The thrill was unbelievable,’’ Hartman mentioned in his autobiography. “For Minnesota to get a serious league group after all of the work we had accomplished was the best feeling on the earth. …

“Baseball was what made you large league. And the Star and the Tribune had accomplished extra in getting the Twins right here than any outfit on the town.’’

The Twins and the growth Vikings of the NFL have been arriving within the Twin Cities solely a 12 months after the Minneapolis Lakers had departed for Los Angeles. Hartman’s involvement with the Lakers had been each important and behind-the-scenes.

The NBA years

Hartman was the de facto basic supervisor of the Lakers. The concession to journalism was that he didn’t usually write concerning the Lakers in his newspaper column.

In 1947, Hartman took a $15,000 examine from Morris Chalfen to Detroit. He met Morris Winston, the proprietor of the Detroit Gems, on the airport, gave him the examine, and the Nationwide Basketball League franchise relocated to Minneapolis because the Lakers.

Chalfen’s accomplice was Ben Berger. Hartman, then 28, was provided the job as basic supervisor, with the stipulation that he stop his newspaper job. He wouldn’t do this, so Max Winter — a former boxing promoter — turned the official GM, with Hartman concerned in personnel selections.

“Concerned’’ was not a phrase Sid would use, by the best way. He insisted that he made the entire personnel selections that turned the Lakers right into a dynasty within the early years of professional basketball.

Hartman insisted he additionally had labored a commerce with Boston that may have despatched veteran Vern Mikkelsen to Boston and introduced an opportunity to draft Invoice Russell, the good College of San Francisco middle, to the Lakers. Sid informed and wrote that story so usually it turned a part of his legend amongst Minnesotans, even after Boston’s Purple Auerbach denied it.

For positive, Hartman and Winter have been capable of get the NBL’s rights to George Mikan. After they signed the good middle early within the 1947-48 season, after his Chicago group had folded, the Lakers have been a powerhouse.

The Lakers gained the NBL title in 1948. The league then merged with the Basketball Affiliation of America, the forerunner of the NBA. The Lakers gained 5 NBA titles over the subsequent six years.

Hartman left the Lakers operation in 1957. He had made his contacts within the NBA, although. He later would make the personnel selections for an growth group that got here to Chicago in 1961 (the Packers, then Zephyrs), then moved to Baltimore because the Bullets.

“There was a redeye flight from Minneapolis that may land in Baltimore at Four within the morning,’’ Hartman mentioned in his autobiography. “I used to be on that flight on a regular basis, spending the day within the Bullets workplace, then flying dwelling.’’

Flying dwelling to jot down a day by day column, run the Tribune sports activities division and get his radio interviews.

Loyal to his buddies

Hartman was well-known for his “shut private buddies.’’ The time period was coined by Steve Cannon, the WCCO radio character with whom Sid appeared for years throughout afternoon drive time.

Hartman had 4 of these shut buddies with the Vikings: Bud Grant, Jerry Burns, Max Winter and Jim Finks. He was tight with Paul Giel, the athletic director on the College of Minnesota, and any influential Gophers coach — John Mariucci, Herb Brooks and Don Lucia, Invoice Musselman, Jim Dutcher, Clem Haskins and Tubby Smith, Dick Seibert and John Anderson, and each soccer coach from Murray Warmath to P.J. Fleck.

He was tight with Lou Nanne, Walter Bush, Gordie Ritz and all of the influential folks with the North Stars.

The Twins? Years later, Twin Cities reporters may encounter Sam Mele, the supervisor of the Twins’ 1965 World Collection group, within the Boston Purple Sox coaching camp. Mele’s first query by no means various: “How’s Sid doing?’’

Hartman was so keen on Billy Martin, the Twins’ supervisor in 1969, that his relationship with proprietor Calvin Griffith all the time was strained after Martin’s firing.

Hartman turned infamous for his daring, often-angry defenses of controversial figures: Yankees proprietor George Steinbrenner, basketball coach Bobby Knight, short-term Gophers soccer coach Lou Holtz, and even Norm Inexperienced, the proprietor who took the North Stars to Dallas.

Anybody who criticized Steinbrenner and Knight didn’t know them nicely sufficient to appreciate all the nice they did for folks. Holtz wouldn’t have left the Gophers for anyplace aside from Notre Dame. And Inexperienced was pressured to maneuver to Dallas by an unbending Metropolitan Sports activities Services Fee. These have been Sid’s views, they usually weren’t going to vary.

Hartman’s loyalty within the face of no matter odds exist was on show in December 1995. The Cleveland Browns have been visiting the Metrodome to play the Vikings. Proprietor Artwork Modell already had made the deal to maneuver his group to Baltimore.

Modell had grow to be a most loathsome character to all Clevelanders and to anybody offended by an proprietor taking a storied franchise from its dwelling.

Hartman and Modell have been buddies. Sid greeted the Browns’ go to that Saturday morning with an ode to Modell on the high of his column. Transplanted Clevelanders got here to the entrance of the Dome press field that day to shout insults at Hartman.

Regardless of. If Modell was transferring the Browns to Baltimore, Hartman figured it needed to be the correct factor to do.

The massive scoop

These friendships — together with all that legwork — allowed Hartman to get infinite tales and bits of data that have been out of the attain of different media members.

There was no nationwide scoop extra startling for Hartman than that contained within the result in his column on Dec. 15, 1974. He reported that Ara Parseghian would resign as Notre Dame’s soccer coach after the upcoming Orange Bowl. Parseghian was on the peak of his profession and there had been no trace he was considering of leaving Notre Dame.

Nonetheless, there it was in Hartman’s column: Parseghian set to depart Notre Dame. The Chicago newspapers heard about Hartman’s report that night time and contacted Notre Dame officers. There have been denials in these newspapers that Sunday morning.

Hartman was receiving calls from Chicago sports-writing acquaintances, telling him he was off base. After which, that afternoon, Notre Dame launched the knowledge that Parseghian could be quitting as soccer coach after the Orange Bowl.

The denials had not nervous Hartman. His supply was previous pal Dan Devine, who already had agreed to depart the Inexperienced Bay Packers to grow to be Notre Dame’s subsequent coach.

Hartman sat on that a part of the story, as a result of Devine had given the Parseghian info with that stipulation.

Hartman all the time mentioned he was a reporter, not a author or grammarian. “I can’t spell ‘cat,’ ’’ he would say, and generations of copy editors on the Tribune by no means argued with that.

Some years in the past, a file was saved within the pc system of Hartman’s makes an attempt at spelling that appeared in his authentic copy. Instance: “pay per view’’ was “paper view’’ in Sid-ese.

The previous Viking guard was “Sunday,” “Sundae” or “Sunne,” however hardly ever was he Milt Sunde when his identify left what was then Sid’s typewriter.

Hartman’s radio dialogue additionally may very well be unforgettable. For example, in lamenting the lung most cancers that may finally take the lifetime of his pal Jim Finks, Sid informed his WCCO listeners that Finks “smoked like a fish.’’

Wasn’t Mr. Repair-it

Amongst his buddies, Hartman was as well-known for his lack of mechanical capability as he was for his loyalty. A number of years again, Joe Swanson, then a teen and the son of a Hartman pal, was driving in Sid’s Cadillac. He observed a packaged CD of Frank Sinatra songs.

When the younger man wished to hearken to the CD, simply to listen to what this Sinatra fellow seemed like, Hartman needed to admit that he didn’t load the CD participant on this totally trendy automobile. And even when he had identified, Sid admitted that he didn’t know take away the disc from its packaging.

Grant loved retelling the story of a long-ago return journey from Superior, Wis., the place Bud and Sid have been visiting Grant’s of us. On a brutally chilly night time in the midst of a deep-snow winter, Hartman’s automobile developed a flat tire on an previous, winding highway again to the Twin Cities.

The spare in Sid’s trunk additionally was flat, which was no shock to Grant. Abruptly, caught on the market in the midst of nowhere at Three o’clock within the morning, Hartman regarded round, then began sprinting, straight right into a snow-filled ditch, the place he sunk to his waist.

“The place are you going, Sid?’’ requested the all the time stoic Grant.

“To that gentle,’’ mentioned the usually panicked Hartman.

“Lengthy journey, Sid,’’ Grant mentioned. “That’s the moon.’’

Grant made his fame in soccer, however he additionally was one of many former Gophers that Hartman delivered to the Lakers, to encompass the superstars — Mikan, Mikkelson, Jim Pollard and Dugie Martin — on these championship groups.

Hartman’s influential basketball background was confirmed in September 2003, when he was a recipient of the Curt Gowdy Award on the Nationwide Basketball Corridor of Fame in Springfield, Mass. The Gowdy Award goes to a media member, though Hartman’s work in placing collectively these Lakers championship groups additionally was cited.

In 2010, a statue of Hartman was unveiled outdoors of Goal Heart. The subsequent 12 months, earlier than a recreation between the Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers, Hartman was honored for his contributions to each organizations. In 2016, the Minnesota Vikings devoted the media entrance at U.S. Financial institution Stadium in Hartman’s identify. The Twins and Gophers have additionally honored Hartman in recent times.

Getting Ted Williams to speak

Hartman’s autobiography, “Sid! The Sports activities Legends, the Inside Scoops and the Shut Private Pals,’’ was launched in 1996. The folks giving endorsements included Arnold Palmer, Wayne Gretzky, Ted Williams and Bob Costas, in addition to Knight, Steinbrenner, Holtz, and so forth.

Hartman’s relationship with Williams dated to 1939, when he was a child promoting newspapers at Nicollet Park. Williams was enjoying for the Minneapolis Millers and Sid ran errands for him.

Hartman usually informed the story about Williams driving down Excelsior Boulevard 100 miles per hour in his new automotive, as Sid held on for expensive life.

Years later, Pulitzer Prize-winning creator David Halberstam couldn’t get Williams to do an interview for a e-book he was writing on the 1949 baseball season. Halberstam heard about Hartman’s friendship with Williams and requested Sid to attach him with Williams.

The interview befell, and Halberstam despatched Hartman a e-book, inscribed with a thanks for organising the Williams interview.

Ten years after the autobiography was printed, the Star Tribune printed “Sid Hartman’s Nice Minnesota Sports activities Moments.” This e-book’s again cowl featured a quote: “I grew up on Sid Hartman columns about my Midwestern sports activities heroes — and I nonetheless consider him as a Corridor of Fame newspaperman.” That got here from Tom Brokaw.

If that e-book felt like a capstone of types to Hartman’s profession, the publishers have been off by about 15 years.

Greater than as soon as, Hartman was requested in his 90s why he nonetheless was at it most on daily basis.

“I don’t know what else I might do,” he’d say, the thought of stress-free and having fun with a slower tempo not for one second occurring to him.

Hartman, nonetheless, did communicate usually of his household, particularly later in life. He celebrated his 99th birthday with members of the family and made positive to attend occasions for his grandchildren.

Hartman was married to Barbara Balfour in 1964. They have been divorced in 1972. He had two kids: adopted daughter Chris Schmitt and son Chad Hartman.

Chad adopted his father into the sports activities media. He did play-by-play for the Timberwolves. He now hosts a general-interest present on WCCO-AM.

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