This is how it is now for Murray. He is in that the-legend-walks-and-talks-and-eats-breakfast stage. The Last King of Sportswriting, boys, sitting right over there.
But Murray the writer has seldom seemed younger. He was named the nation's best columnist for 1984 by the Associated Press Sports Editors. Odds are that Murray will go on winning awards three years after he is buried.
Why he has never been awarded the Pulitzer Prize is an unsolved mystery. Then again, only three sportswriters have won it—Red Smith, Dave Anderson and Arthur Daley—and all three worked for
The New York Times
. "If Murray worked for the Times" says Dan Jenkins, author of Semi-Tough, "he'd already have three."
Murray doesn't care. "Gerry's gone. So what?"
He misses her. "I'll be watching TV once in a while and I'll see somebody we knew and I'll say, 'Gerry, come take a look at...' And then I'll catch myself."
Two years after Gerry died, friends are still telling him, "Why don't you move out of that house? It'll help you to forget." And he answers, " 'Cause I don't want to forget."
So he fills his days at home, in a house that is far too big for him, the lights always turned on low. He's a steel ball in a giant pinball machine, banging around off the walls, nothing much in the refrigerator, stacks of books and untended mail cluttering up the counter space. No room in the house really means much to him anymore except the corner of a small downstairs bedroom where he writes his column by the light of a lamp and a window. It strained his eyes to make out the tiny print on his portable computer, so someone hooked up a magnifying monitor. It is chilling to watch him with his back to the door, his shoulders hunched over an eerie green light, writing jokes for the greater Los Angeles area.
And Murray never misses a column. "What else would I do?" he says.
A tour of the house is really more of a tour of Gerry—here we are at the Masters, at Pebble Beach, at the Dunes, at Madison Square Garden—until you arrive at a 3 X 5 on the piano.
"This is my favorite," he says. "I don't know if she'd like it or not. But I like it. Look at those eyes. Look at them. There's just no jealousy in those eyes."