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King of The Sports Page
Rick Reilly
May 16, 1994
This SI Classic from April 1986 examines the life of Jim Murray, America's top sports columnist, who, despite a series of tragedies, always keeps 'em laughing
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May 16, 1994

King Of The Sports Page

This SI Classic from April 1986 examines the life of Jim Murray, America's top sports columnist, who, despite a series of tragedies, always keeps 'em laughing

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LETTER FROM A ROOKIE'S WIFE

Dearest Darling:

How are you?... lam working now at the Bon Ton Grill.... All the fellows from the box works ask for you and say, 'Boy, I bet if that old husband of yours could only see you in them net stockings he'd bat a thousand....'

The other night was election night and the bar had to be closed; so I had the whole gang over to our house.... The party wasn't as noisy as the papers said.... I didn't see why the police came....

I sure want you to meet Cesar [a new roomer].... [He] feels terrible he had to take this long business trip just the time you come home.... He'll come back. He has to; he has the car.

Faithfully yours, Cuddles

Back in 1961, before the Computer Age, writers on the road would type hard copy, and Western Union would wire it to the home papers. Except for Murray's stuff. The guys from Western Union would come back to Jim looking befuddled. "Hey, Murray," they would ask, "you sure you want to say this?" Says Murray, "I think they kept waiting for 'and then, his bat flashing in the sun, the Bambino belted a four-ply swat,' and it never came."

What came instead were one-line snapshots that a hundred fulminations couldn't top. Elgin Baylor was "as unstoppable as a woman's tears." Dodger manager Walt Alston would "order corn on the cob in a Paris restaurant."

It was the kind of stuff that the guy with a stopwatch hanging from his neck hated, but almost everybody else liked—especially women. "I love your column," one female fan wrote him, "even when I don't know what you're talking about."

Murray became nearly as famous as his subjects. Once, during a tournament, Arnold Palmer's golf ball rolled into a gully, leaving him an impossible shot out of a thicket. Just then he saw Murray in the gallery. "Well," Palmer said, "you're always writing about Hogan. What would Hogan do in a situation like this?"

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