Well, I just went to a funeral. Guess whose? Mine! Me, Jim Murray! I certainly never expected to spend a perfectly good Friday at a place like this. And guess what else? They want me to write about it. Me! The folks who came to the church on Sunset Boulevard to see me off into the sunset, they said, "Jim, nobody but you can do you justice."
So, here goes. I sure do feel funny about this. It's kind of like Jack Nicklaus playing tennis at Wimbledon. Or like Jackie Robinson carrying the football in a Super Bowl. Like, what am I doing here, at my own memorial service? On the whole, I'd rather be in Cincinnati.
All right then, Miss Kelly B, take a letter. This one goes out to all my friends, the ones I've known and the ones I never met. Address it: "From somewhere on the 19th hole." That's probably where I am right now, missing a four-foot putt.
Anyway, it sure was nice to see everybody. I can't believe so many came out. Don't they have anything better to do, like mowing the lawn? Standing room only should be for Placido Domingo, or for Dempsey against Tunney. I'm just a tired old scribbler. Maybe they just wanted to make sure I showed up.
Well, it ain't over until the Irish tenor sings. "O Danny Boy" was announced, so "O Danny Boy" was sung. Hey, if I'd known so many were coming, I'd have baked a cake.
OK, friends, once more around the track. One more run for the roses. One last lap around Indy. One final dash inside the Coliseum. You, over there at ringside, strike the bell. Let's get ready to rumble. Welcome to my farewell.
First off, I would like to thank everyone for all the cards and calls and kind words. I am very grateful, and so is my lovely bride, Linda. She's the one who deserves all the credit, you know. Caesar's wife is beyond reproach. I can't say the same for her husband.
The readers of The Times were like my extended family. They weren't subscribers. They were pen pals. Every column I wrote felt like a conversation. For 37 years, we met for breakfast. I was the guy who made them spit out their orange juice. Sometimes, from laughter. Sometimes, from anger. Either way, we had a good time.
I wish all of you could have been there Friday morning. Sorry, but the church could only hold so many sinners and so many saints. The sinners sat on the left, the saints on the right. But I know you were there in spirit. I just hope you aren't sick of hearing about me. Tell those guys at The Times to go back to writing about the Dodgers and Angels now, something important.
The sun came out and in came my friends. I never saw so many sportswriters in suits in my life. A sportswriter usually looks like an unmade bed. I didn't know some of these guys owned a necktie. They looked like a bunch of used-car dealers on their way to a convention in Toledo.
Father Donie Keohane, the priest with the Barry Fitzgerald dialect, welcomed everyone to the Mass. I wish he'd passed a collection plate. There were a lot of high rollers in that room. He could have probably gotten a couple of million out of my friends Don Sterling, Al Davis and Peter O'Malley alone. And my old sportswriting pals Furman Bisher, Dan Foster, Bill Millsaps, Edwin Pope and Blackie Sherrod would have been good for at least another 10 bucks between them.
Thanks to Jack Whitaker, for an epitaph and a half. And to Tom Sullivan, for singing like an angel. (I know; I've heard both.) And to John Scheibe, who pinch-saw for me when my eyes went on the disabled list. And to Paul Conrad, for using 1,000 words when a cartoon would have sufficed. And to Bill Plaschke, for voluntarily dispensing Holy Communion to the congregation. First time a sportswriter ever got a round for the house.
Marcus Allen, Chris McCarron, Danny Sullivan, Mike Tyson, thanks for dropping by. Marcus slipped into the vestibule the way he did through a hole in the USC line. I hope Chris parked his horse and Danny his race car in a safe place, behind the church.
As for Iron Mike, people talk about my criticizing him, but he and I also talked old-time prizefighting for hours on end. Thanks for coming, kid. Behave yourself.
I could go on and on. But I won't. I've already taken up too much of your time. All I can say is, thanks for the use of this space. It feels great to be in the Sunday paper, one more time.
Mike Downey's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Write to him at Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053, or phone (213) 237-7366.