Sid Hartman turns 100: Milestone birthday for Minnesota newsman

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, greets sports journalist Sid Hartman before a news conference in advance of the Super Bowl 52 football game, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, in Minneapolis. AP photo

He still has three to four columns published per week in the paper he once sold on downtown street corners at age 9.

Posted: Mar 15, 2020 2:16 PM
Updated: Mar 15, 2020 2:18 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Just like so many Sunday mornings before, Sid Hartman's column was printed in the sports section of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Then he joined the sports talk show on WCCO AM radio.

This time, he did so as a 100-year-old.

During the coronavirus-triggered pause to the games that Hartman has spent chronicling over an eight-decade career, Minnesota sports teams and figures found a reason amid the somberness of the pandemic to celebrate Hartman's 100th birthday.

The Vikings produced a seven-minute video tribute, including greetings from former head coaches Bud Grant, Jerry Burns, Brad Childress and Leslie Frazier, former quarterbacks Brett Favre, Archie Manning and Fran Tarkenton, and broadcasters Al Michaels and Jim Nantz.

Hartman's weekly appearance on “The Sports Huddle” with co-hosts Dave Mona and Mike Max featured callers like former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson and former college football coach Lou Holtz, a few of the many famous names Hartman frequently referenced in print as a “close personal friend.” From George Steinbrenner to Bob Knight to Pete Carroll, Hartman's rolodex has long been a who's-who of the sports world.

“One of the reasons I started working for the newspaper at such a young age was because it helped my family have extra money at that time,” Hartman wrote in his column published in Sunday's editions of the newspaper he began selling on downtown Minneapolis street corners at age 9.

These days, personal nurses are by his side as he makes more limited appearances at games and events. He needs a walker or a wheelchair to get around. Hearing is hard, and his speech is halting and slurred. An iPhone has replaced his oversized, old-fashioned tape recorder.

Nonetheless, Hartman conducts interviews and composes commentary for three columns per week — four during football season — in addition to the radio airtime. Star Tribune copy editor Jeff Day tirelessly handles the transcription and dictation, but make no mistake — the perspective is clearly Hartman's. He remains acutely aware of the salary-cap challenge the Vikings are facing and the sinking attendance of the Timberwolves as well as the upward trajectory of the Gophers football program and the power-hitting potential of the Twins.

As the postponements and cancellations piled up this week, Hartman reflected in Friday's print editions on his first published column in the paper — on Sept. 11, 1945, a little more than a week after the end of World War II.

“And while there may not be a comparison in terms of the war and this health scare, the fact is that during the war years sports proved to be a key factor in keeping people together and bringing the country back,” Hartman wrote, later adding: “When games are played again, it will bring a lot of comfort to teams and fans.”

In an age when the lines between the sporting press and local establishments were more blurred, Hartman helped broker a $15,000 purchase in 1947 of the franchise that became the Minneapolis Lakers and eventually joined the NBA. Hartman became the de facto general manager. The Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1960 after a dynastic run of five championships, mostly with a sports writer making personnel decisions and handling contract negotiations.

“In those days the sports editors allowed every staff member to do public relations for some kind of a sport, whether it be professional wrestling, basketball, boxing or anything like that,” Hartman wrote. “You could never do that now at the Star Tribune or any other newspaper. Nobody would even think of it. But in those days it was allowed and even encouraged. Back then sportswriters didn’t make a lot of money, so having a side PR job was allowed for years. No doubt there was conflict of interest in all of these moves. But the paper encouraged it, because they were so eager to make this a major league city and felt that I could be a help because of my contacts.”

So on went this most unusual career of the son of Russian and Latvian immigrants, who dropped out of Minneapolis North High School in 1936 to work in the circulation department at the Minneapolis Tribune and has stayed in the news business ever since.

He was inducted in 2003 into the media wing of the Basketball Hall of Fame, receiving the Curt Gowdy Award. In 2010, a statue of him was unveiled outside Target Center, where the Timberwolves play. The Star Tribune counted 21,149 bylines of his.

“I have followed the advice that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life,” Hartman wrote in his column on Sunday. “Even at 100 I can say I still love what I do.”

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 24190

Reported Deaths: 1036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8181606
Ramsey2863122
Stearns201413
Nobles15125
Anoka136370
Dakota126354
Washington61731
Olmsted60810
Kandiyohi4901
Rice4522
Clay42426
Scott4082
Todd3130
Wright3051
Mower3031
Sherburne2372
Carver2062
Benton1753
Steele1590
Blue Earth1380
Martin1295
St. Louis11814
Freeborn1150
Pine890
Nicollet8610
Unassigned8610
Winona7915
Carlton730
Watonwan710
Cottonwood700
Crow Wing682
Goodhue663
Otter Tail640
Chisago611
Polk612
Itasca5410
Dodge520
Chippewa491
Lyon490
Morrison450
Meeker450
Le Sueur441
Douglas410
Becker390
Jackson390
Murray390
McLeod340
Isanti320
Waseca260
Rock220
Mille Lacs191
Faribault180
Swift180
Wabasha180
Fillmore171
Pennington170
Sibley160
Brown152
Beltrami140
Cass132
Norman130
Pipestone120
Kanabec111
Wilkin113
Marshall100
Pope90
Wadena90
Aitkin80
Koochiching70
Yellow Medicine60
Mahnomen61
Lincoln50
Renville50
Big Stone40
Grant40
Red Lake40
Redwood40
Clearwater30
Hubbard30
Traverse30
Lac qui Parle30
Roseau30
Houston20
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 19217

Reported Deaths: 531
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4160125
Woodbury274034
Black Hawk173944
Linn94976
Dallas89220
Marshall89216
Buena Vista7350
Johnson6149
Wapello5589
Muscatine55641
Crawford5142
Tama40227
Scott35810
Dubuque34518
Louisa34311
Jasper26116
Pottawattamie2578
Sioux2190
Washington1888
Wright1670
Plymouth1292
Warren1260
Allamakee1204
Story1091
Mahaska9310
Poweshiek908
Henry711
Bremer696
Des Moines621
Clinton611
Boone610
Taylor540
Clarke530
Guthrie503
Cedar461
Benton411
Webster391
Monroe385
Shelby370
Jones360
Hamilton350
Clayton343
Iowa330
Buchanan330
Osceola330
Marion320
Cerro Gordo281
Cherokee280
Madison282
Fayette270
Lee250
Winneshiek240
Monona240
Jefferson230
Harrison220
Davis210
Lyon210
Dickinson200
Grundy200
Mills190
Floyd191
Sac180
Humboldt170
Lucas170
Hardin160
Hancock160
Delaware150
Keokuk150
Clay150
Appanoose153
Butler151
Emmet140
Ida140
Page130
Greene130
Franklin130
Cass120
Howard120
Audubon121
Jackson120
Winnebago110
Pocahontas110
Chickasaw100
Carroll90
Van Buren90
Adair90
Kossuth90
Union70
Adams70
Montgomery70
Palo Alto60
Unassigned60
Fremont40
Mitchell40
Ringgold40
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Rochester
Few Clouds
45° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 41°
Mason City
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 46°
Albert Lea
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 48°
Austin
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 48°
Charles City
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 46°
Sunnier skies for the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Rochester People's Rally

Image

Religious leaders call for justice for George Floyd

Image

Rochester downtown under curfew Saturday night

Image

Sean Weather 5/30

Image

Governor Walz GivesUpdate

Image

Gov. Walz Addresses Minnesotans in Overnight Press Conference

Image

Riots, Fires continue in Minneapolis

Image

Protesters in Downtown Rochester

Image

Mower County Fair will go on as planned

Image

Minneapolis Gas Stations Shut Down

Community Events