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From AJR,   October 1998  issue

A Sportswriting Giant   


By AJR Staff
     

The country lost one of its most acclaimed sports columnists August 16 when Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times died of cardiac arrest at age 78. Murray was one of only four sportswriters to win the Pulitzer Prize. What was it about Murray that made him so special?

"He was just a wonderful guy. I grew up reading him...
"The thing I found most impressive was how he weaved his personal experiences into columns without a hint of self-pity. He had sort of a rough life, but everywhere I saw him, he always had a kind word for everybody. That's why he was so loved in Southern California. There were a million sportswriters whose egos were larger than Jim Murray's, though their talents were so much smaller in contrast. His ego didn't come anywhere close to his talent.
"People couldn't stay mad at him for more than the 20 minutes it took to read his column. Jim Murray never kept an enemy. There was a certain pride in being scorched by the best."
--Peter Schmuck, sports reporter, Baltimore Sun

"The two primary inspirations that led me to be a sportswriter were Jim Murray and Sports Illustrated in general...
"His style was personal, and his metaphors and similes were so outsized that they didn't work for most people. He was an example of artistry so unique that it's not well imitated. To be able to sit there decade after decade and pile references on top of each other like he did is amazing...
"The first thing I heard about him was how incredibly unpretentious he was. You'd see him at big events, but he was a lurker, not a bombastic presence. You'd see him with his quiet modus operandi, and then he would come out with these vicious city rips, and it was hard to believe they were coming from this same guy, who was kind of mousy in person."
--Bob Ryan, columnist, Boston Globe

--Interviews by Childs Walker