My parents had to work, work, work to pay the bills. This is a fact that is never lost on me daily, as they did all this and still managed to send me to private schools to better my education.
A result of all of that work they did was that I had less than ideal circumstances of getting to school. Both parents worked early hours (mom started at 5 a.m. or sometimes earlier, and dad started at 6 a.m.), and as a result of not living close to my school, I had to get special transportation to the schoolhouse.
I would wake up with my mom at 4 a.m. and would get shuttled over to my grandparents’ home in St. Paul, where I would get a few more hours of sleep before one of them would drive me to school. As a result I would get up and sit at the breakfast table with them, radio on and newspaper open.
This is where my love of the sports section took off at a young age.
My grandparents were daily subscribers to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. That’s where I got my start with reading the sports section. Why the sports section? That’s just who I was. Mind you, while I was reading the section, SportsCenter was on in the background, too.
Eventually, I wanted some variety, so I got my hands on the Minneapolis Star Tribune whenever I could for a quarter or 50 cents. Once I started reading that publication, it did not take long to realize that Sid Hartman was a pretty influential person in this town.
Oh, and remember that radio my grandparents would listen to in the morning? It was always tuned into WCCO-AM, who had Hartman on their morning show. He was NEVER short of opinions either.
It’s worth noting that my coming of age while reading the sports section and learning about Sid came when he was 80. Hell, he was selling newspapers the same year my grandparents were BORN. It never dawned on me that 20 years later he would still be writing right up until his final day on this planet.
But once you read and got to know who Sid was, it was not a surprise at all.
My only Sid story came at the State Fair, a yearly tradition my father and I would partake in every opening day. Bright and early at 6 a.m., we arrived. Dad was also a frequent listener to the WCCO morning show, as he had a long history with some of the on-air talent there.
I got to meet Sid that day after seeing his name countless times in the sports section. It was a thrill then, and still is to this day. But a boy who was shy from the moment he came into this world could not muster a sentence to the legend, so his father had to speak for him.
My dad asked Sid what he would tell an aspiring boy who might want to pursue a career in writing someday.
Sid replied, “Work your tail off!”
Short. Simple. To the point. And even better, this is how Sid did his job for over 80 years. You don’t make all the friends he did by just taking a day off here and there. He was relentless until the end.
So from the kid who grew up reading the paper and listening to the radio, I raise my glass to you Mr. Sid Hartman. Thank you for inspiring me and countless others to take on writing in sports.
There will never be another like you, and your legend will live on forever.