Missing out on the greatest sports writer of all time

I’m 21 years old. It’s currently 1:06 a.m., and the only reason I’m still awake is because the class that is ritualistically held at 9:30 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday was cancelled. This class is the only class I could possibly tolerate that early (my lack of functionality during the morning is part of the reason I love sports journalism), because it’s taught by the great Kevin Blackistone, and it’s one of the few classes where I can safely say that I learn on a regular basis.

Being 21 means certain things. Besides having a newfound, legal appreciation for the Dogfish Head Raison D’Être I’m currently sipping, having already experienced three-plus years of college (“Years you’ll never get back!” -Everyone Ever), and having the ability to participate in athletic activities multiple times a day and not need an ice bath, being 21 means I’m too young for things.

Specifically, I’m too young to know who Jim Murray was. Which is, frankly a damn shame. In fact,

Jim Murray

I’m a journalism major on track to graduate in less than a year, all set to embark on a career writing about sports for a living, and before tonight, I had never heard of the guy. My father will now gasp in horror.


For my contemporaries reading this who are the knowing-about-Jim-Murray equivalent of Yesterday Ethan, here’s his Wikipedia page. Wiki-Jim Murray obviously doesn’t tell the full story. I don’t think anyone or any entity could tell the full story, the late Murray included. His story is too full, too rich to be recounted.

At this point, you may be rhetorically asking yourself how I could possibly know, considering I’ve already disclosed that my knowledge of Jim Murray extends only a few hours. Well, I just read this story by Rick Reilly from 1986. Yes, the same Reilly who is now a caricature at ESPN, who the sports-blogosphere likes to consistenly snicker at behind its veil of self-importance. There’s a reason, however, that Reilly is worth snickering at. It’s that he made a name for himself with good, old-fashioned journalism, and that’s something to be said.

If you don’t read this story, the terrorists (and probably the Patriots, who are, ironically, on the same level as terrorists in my eyes) will win.

Yes, the story is that good that it warrants an entire sentence/paragraph link. Yes, the story made me cry. For multiple reasons. Don’t you wish you could go back to the era where a journalist was twice as famous as the subject of his story, for all the right reasons? A time that predates ESPN, screaming, talking heads on the telly and where following Brett Favre from a high school football practice to his truck isn’t crazy, it’s what’s expected?

I truly wished I lived in a time where four times a week, I could read Jim Murray’s column. I wish the sports journalism world was one where good writing and reporting always beat out sleaze and smut, and where the general public encouraged good writing instead of smut and sleaze.

Maybe it’s just me, and maybe the Raison D’Être has gone to my head, and consequently my fingers, the keyboard and the interwebs, but I kind of feel cheated that I never got to experience that. We all got cheated.

So I raise this bottle to the memory of Jim Murray: the greatest sports writer you’ve never heard of.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Growing up in LA, Jim Murray is the reason I got into sports writing. Great post, Ethan.


  2. Posted by Collin on October 14, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Great post, Murray had some ridiculous columns, here’s one: http://www.alydar.com/03/jim-eye.html


  3. Posted by Alan Rothstein on October 14, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Terrific post and on a great subject. Murray put sports in the context of life, and made both better.


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