MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Legendary Minnesota sports journalist Sid Hartman has died. He was 100 years old.
Hartman’s son, Chad Hartman of WCCO Radio, announced his father’s death Sunday afternoon, saying that his father’s “extraordinary and resilient life has come to a peaceful conclusion surrounded by his family.”
My father’s extraordinary and resilient life has come to a peaceful conclusion surrounded by his family.
— Chad Hartman (@ChadHartmanShow) October 18, 2020
Hartman’s newspaper and radio offerings were gospel for most of his 100 years on this earth. He was passionate, relentless and one of the major reasons why Minnesota is a major league state — and he did it the old fashioned way.
Born in 1920 to immigrant parents, Hartman grew up on the north side of Minneapolis. He sold newspapers as a child to help his family make ends meet. It was a job that created the work ethic that would define him.
“I was 12 years old, riding my bike to drive and sell papers around town to help out with my family,” Hartman said.
The iconic figure appreciated his career, because he appreciated where he came from. Hartman was a high school dropout who persevered.
“I quit high school in 10th grade when I got a job in circulation,” Hartman said. “I’m just lucky, that’s all.”
Before long, he started writing for the paper, and over the next eight decades his columns became must-reads. His relentless pursuit of scoops, both big and small, became the stuff of legend.
He also helped run the Minneapolis Lakers, and they won titles, eventually becoming the Los Angeles Lakers.
Hartman’s impact on the sports world cannot be overstated. Athletes, coaches and executives alike remember his ability to build and maintain relationships. His career and personal life blended into one. The people he covered became his friends because they learned Hartman was on their side. One of those athletes was legendary Minnesota Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton.
“He’s the greatest journalist, most honest, forthcoming journalist, sports journalist that I’ve ever know,” Tarkenton said. “He could get an interview with anybody.”
He was honored again and again because of that, including by Minnesota Twins icon Rod Carew.
“He’s my buddy. He’s the only guy that I trusted when I was [in Minnesota], that I could talk to and not worry about it,” Carew said.
Hartman say the biggest thrill of his gargantuan career was getting to honor a Minnesota sports legend.
“The one thing I’ll always remember is introducing [former Vikings coach] Bud Grant at the [Pro Football] Hall of Fame,” Hartman said.
Grant was indeed a “very close, personal friend” of Hartman.
“You’re lucky if you got a best friend. I’m the luckiest guy in the world because Sid came into my life, and we’ve been best friends since 1945,” Grant said.
When he was 61, Hartman started the Sports Huddle on WCCO Radio with co-host Dave Mona. The weekly sports show became a staple for sports fans, and lasted 40 years on air.
“Your version of what’s old changes as you age along the way, but [when I started working with Hartman I thought], ‘This guy is 61 years old, how much longer can he keep going?’” Mona said.
On March 15, 2020, he turned 100 years old. He celebrated on WCCO Radio. Because of COVID-19, it would be his last radio broadcast.
“It’s a very different feeling [turning 100]. I survived it, that’s the most important thing,” Hartman said.
He did more than survive — he thrived. He took a tough upbringing and turned it into a career that we have never seen, and probably never will again. He was the best at his craft because of tenacity and longevity. He kept going, living a life that exceeded his expectations, because he worked so hard for that life, every day.
Even when you disagreed with Hartman, you could not help but like him. He was an original, and he will never be forgotten.
According to The Star Tribune, Hartman wrote more than 21,000 bylined stories over his career. His last column appeared in Sunday’s Sports section. It was Hartman’s 119th column of 2020.
Greg Mees, the Star Tribune’s design director, previewed Monday’s sports section Sunday night on Twitter.
Goodbye to our close personal friend.
— Greg Mees (@mees_greg) October 19, 2020