April 28, 2020

Sid Hartman, reporter

I hope you’ve been reading Strib columnist Patrick Reusse because he’s been in fine form with recent pieces about ex-Twins manager, Billy Martin, and, of course, longtime media figure, Sid Hartman. Hartman, who turned 100 last month, continues to work for the Minneapolis-based newspaper. And for those trying to decipher “strib,” that’s short for Star Tribune.

Although Reusse contributed to a piece on Hartman turning 100, it was an old column about Hartman turning 75 that caught my eye. It was funny, with recollections about Hartman’s inability to spell or get athletes’ names straight. He apparently once referred to former college and pro basketball player, Rumeal Robinson, as “Rommel” Robinson, earning the newsroom nickname, “The Playground Fox.”

(For those following along, that’s a reference to the Desert Fox, Erwin Rommel).

Perhaps Hartman isn’t the best speller, or have a knack for names, but it’s clear from that 75th birthday column that he has always been a heckuva of a reporter. And by that I mean someone who has sources that run so deep that getting information to break news is never a problem. To put a finer point on his reporting skills, Reusse recalls the day he called in sick as a copy boy to hang out and drink beer, or what we called a “kegger” in my high school days. Yet Hartman had no trouble tracking down Reusse to his beer-drinking location.

Reusse covers some of the same ground in a Hartman book called, “Sid!” I bought the book, thinking there would be some interesting stories about the Twins, but there really weren’t. In fact, the book wasn’t very interesting at all, except for the preface. Reusse captures Hartman in his element as he walks into the newsroom, cracking corny jokes and making other comments apropos of nothing.

But then we learn that some other reporters in the room can’t come up with the three finalists for the top job at the University of Minnesota. Here, Reusse dishes out the highest kind of praise for a reporter.

What are the editors going to do now? They are going to do exactly what newspaper editors in Minneapolis have done for more than five decades. They are going to find Sid Hartman and ask for help. Fifteen minutes later, the editors have the three names.

Extra innings…

-Well, if you got through the above, it’s probably pretty clear that I’m getting close to running out of content for this blog. What’s to blame? The coronavirus, of course, and the lack so far of major league baseball. However, if the season is canceled, my plan is to write about a previous season as if it were being played today. I’m going to skip the obvious years of 1965, 1987 and 1991. Instead, here are the seasons I have in mind.

-1961: The first year of major league baseball in Minnesota.

-1969: Billy Martin’s one and only season managing the Twins.

-1977: The year Rod Carew hit .388.

-1982: The worst season in team history. (Whoops! Make that the second worst season in team history. I guess I’ve tried too hard to forget 2016).

-2002: Ron Gardenhire’s first season managing the Twins.

Which season would you like to read about?

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.