Haggle all you want about the greatest basketball player--Jordan, Russell or whoever. Were the 1927 Yankees the best? Lombardi's Packers? You take Ali. Give me Joe Louis. You're entitled to your opinion.
But don't try to tell me Jim Murray was not the greatest sportswriter of his generation. He wasn't voted "America's Best Sportswriter" 14 times because the other guys used crayons.
Maybe because his columns were timeless, I assumed Jim Murray was as well.
There are two kinds of sportswriters: Jim Murray and others.
With Jack Smith in Life & Style and Jim Murray in Sports, the heaven edition of The Times is one of the best newspapers around.
This guarantees that the esteemed Mr. Murray is now covering the real angels and saints.
Upon hearing of the death of Jim Murray, I was very sad. Then, as I recalled some of his most memorable columns, I brightened up a little. I know that the first things Jim got to see with his new eyes were the faces of his wife and son.
Thanks Jim, for all the wonderful words.
Saddened by Jim Murray's passing, late last night, for the first time in a long while, I actually prayed. I asked God to leave the light on for Jim. He had bad eyes, you know. What seemed like only a minute later, a deep, reassuring voice that sounded like it was inside my head answered, "Naw, Jim has always seen just fine."
My penurious side has always placed me in morning coffee shops begging fellow patrons for their sports page. It wasn't until I moved to Los Angeles that one unsuspecting customer, an elderly woman wielding a magnifying glass, turned to me and said, "No." She said, "Son, my morning is reserved for Mr. Murray." I didn't know what she meant. Nine years have passed and I now know. Sunrise and that first cup of Joe will never be the same.
I cannot let Jim Murray's death pass without recalling his generosity to a college junior 31 years ago. I was studying at UCLA and needed some guidance in doing a research paper. I wrote to Jim and almost immediately got a message asking me to call him at home. I did so and was so impressed at how easy he was to talk to and how he cut right to the issues I needed to address, helping me immeasurably in producing an "A" paper.
It now occurs to me that Jim's life was very much devoted to producing "A" papers.
He could do in a couple of hours what most writers couldn't do in a week. And that was with a deadline. Jim Murray was a master craftsman. Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Murray.
Imagine going to Leonardo in the morning and asking him to draw the helicopter by lunch. "Hey, Mich, we've got a group coming in for a wedding at 6, can you kind of hurry it up?"
How did he do it?
When Secretariat died, they did an autopsy and found out that he had a extra-large ticker. Everyone then realized how he had run races faster than any other horse in history. So, what did Jim Murray have? From the outpouring of responses to his passing, it's clear that his heart was oversized as well. What about his brain? Could it have been unique in some way? Call that brain research fella in here right away. Sure, study Jordan and Montana if you like, but I want to know why he passed on Jim Murray.
You want to study guys who dominate their field? That's Murray. Leaving him out of a study like this would be like having a party for dictators and not inviting Fidel Castro. He wasn't just better, he was Secretariat better.
JOHN T. FISCHER
After living and breathing sports for a lot of years, I've lost a lot of my passion. Between the salary/labor squabbles and crime statistics, I sometimes wonder if I'm reading a cross between the Wall Street Journal and a crime report.
Jim Murray's columns cut though all that. He brought us the people and events that led old fogies like me to love sports to begin with. I hope The Times just runs a big blank, white space for a week or so as a tribute to Jim. I miss him already.
Jim Murray was a master of the three Cs--clever, concise and comparative. He was at his best when providing his readers with a litany of analogies on a golfer's swing, a ballplayer's stroke or a horse's stride. His words floated and danced off the page much the same way Ali did in the ring. He grabbed you from the start, kept you entertained throughout and always left you wanting more.
I was born in Los Angeles in 1957. I discovered sports and Jim Murray in 1970. I would watch the Rams or the Bruins play, and read Murray's column to see what I missed, even though I had seen or had been at the game. He cleared the shadows from the corners, and showed the entire field. You never had a bad seat with Murray's column.