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Sports Extra / JIM MURRAY: 1919-1998 | OUR READERS

Their Mornings Just Won't Be the Same

August 22, 1998

I know this will get lost in a flood of memorials. Jim Murray was L.A. and The Times. The Sports section is some of the best reading in the world. Jim Murray elevated that section to where it is today. The graduates of The Times around the country got to learn and work with a truly great storyteller who was a regular guy. I went to college in the upper Midwest in the '70s, but I subscribed to The Times anyway. I got the Sunday paper on Thursday, but it didn't matter that the news was old. Jim's columns and the rest of the paper were my connection to home. I haven't lived in Southern California for over 20 years, but I turn to the Web site often. I get The Times whenever I can get my hands on it.

Thankfully, Vin Scully is still around to remind us of those days when L.A. was a lot less full of itself. Thanks to all of Jim's colleagues for sharing their memories of him with us.


Decorah, Iowa


My wife never reads the sports page. Because she loves Spokane and appreciates the written word, I began reading "Best of Murray--Cities" about Spokane. We both laughed. I then began reading to her "If You're Expecting One-Liners, Wait, a Column" written in '79 when Mr. Murray lost his eyesight. Three-quarters of the way through the article, I began bawling like a baby. Profoundly confused--why this uncontrollable sobbing, I asked? Mr. Murray's great prose touched the universal emotion of loss--his eye, a sports era, my youth, and now Jim Murray. We both cried.


Woodland Hills


There have been a few masterpieces of writing, in the sports field or any other field of writing. Without doubt, Jim Murray wrote many memorable columns but, in my mind, the greatest column/masterpiece of writing ever by any writer at any time at any age was Jim's column wherein he tells of his wife's death. No other writing has ever approached this in-depth feeling, respect, love and heartbreak. That column, with due respect for his present family, should be his memorial.




When Jim Murray was inducted into our local Shrine Game Hall of Fame in 1988, I was fortunate to take a tour with him to our Los Angeles unit of Shriners' Hospitals for crippled children. A sad place, and I told him so. But Murray said, "You can't cry, because the kids aren't crying."

He immediately grasped what is going on at our hospital; his barbs in his columns insulting anyone that thought they had no reason to attend our Shrine Game to benefit these kids made you feel guilty for not attending.

During that tour, he pointed out that Shriners had fun. There is no denying that. But he said at the time--and The Times ran his quote from my letter to Viewpoint when he won the Pulitzer Prize two years later--"As long as there is a crippled child, we'll never run out of Shriners."

And that's true. But we have now run out of sportswriters.




Jim Murray was a regular at Richstone Family Center events, from the fancy ones in Beverly Hills to the pot lucks. Jim was at home with these kids. He would shake their hands, ask them about what sports they played and wait for their answers as though each were destined for fame and glory.

In 1992, at a gala chaired by his future wife, Linda McCoy, Jim became the first recipient of the Richstone Caritas (Love of People) Award presented to him by President and Mrs. Reagan. Jim, always reluctant to be center stage, suffered in the spotlight to help secure the final dollars needed to break ground on the Richstone Jim Murray Children's Center.


Executive Director,

Richstone Family Center


In 1972, after living in Los Angeles the first 22 years of my life, I was appointed general manager of a Class-A Pittsburgh Pirate farm club in Salem, Va. I still remember waking up that February morning, going down to the coffee shop, opening the Roanoke World News newspaper and shock set in. No Jim Murray. It was an element of life I took for granted--like breathing. I immediately called to have a subscription mailed to me.

Fast-forward to 26 years later. An overcast morning in the South Bay. I open the Los Angeles Times and depression sets in. No Jim Murray. No more.

This time I can't call anyone to have a subscription mailed to me.




When Sandy Koufax shut out the Minnesota Twins to win the 1965 World Series, Jim Murray compared him to Vladimir Horowitz, Jonas Salk, Fred Astaire and Leonard Bernstein. This was my first introduction to these great men. Only Murray could sneak in a history and culture lesson in the middle of a baseball column.


West Hills


As Jim Murray's oldest friend, I am compelled to add a few memories.

In 1948, Jim walked with me to Ben Hogan's first U.S. Open win at Riviera.

Dan Tana invited us to the first U.S. pro soccer game in 1967. Jim was bored. He said Americans liked rehashing games in the off-season. He said the game would never catch on here.

I remember his wife Gerry's St. Patrick's Day parties.

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