By T.J. Simers
On this day, probably his 100th or 105th birthday, Bill Dwyre wrote a tennis story for the LA Times. He’s always worked hard to put Times’ readers to sleep.
I read the story because I wanted it said before Dwyre stopped writing that I had read something he wrote.
I was there the night Hank Gathers died at center court in a Loyola Marymount basketball game and wrote about it for a newspaper in San Diego.
I did a terrible job because I was so hellbent on detailing the technicalities of death and failed to capture the emotion of the moment.
One of my worst journalism moments, and as so many have written over the years to say, a large number to consider.
I told Dwyre about it, mentioning that I didn’t even know Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra was standing a few feet from Gathers. Spoelstra a guard for the University of Portland.
“If you had read my column, you would have known,” Dwyre said, and I had never thought about doing that before.
When I saw the headline this morning in the Times: “Tennis legend shook sports world by turning pro 75 years ago,” I thought, that’s kind of wordy.
But I also knew the story had to be written by Dwyre who was probably there when Jack Kramer turned pro and Tom turned on the lights for the first time.
I like when old-timers are allowed to still write for the paper on occasion. Wonder why?
On the front sports page Monday, the Times featured a trifecta of who cares stories about hockey, soccer and tennis. I guess they held the bowling story.
But Dwyre’s byline was also there and speaks to so many decades of quality journalism. Not much of that in the newspaper anymore, but Dwyre led the Times’ incredible coverage of the LA Olympics back in 1984.
He was Jim Murray’s boss, as well as Chris Dufresne’s, Mark Heisler’s and Rick Reilly’s.
Dwyre hired me to cover football and write for Page 2, making sure my stuff never made it to Page 1. He also hired Bill Plaschke. He went 1-for-2, and I’ll let you decide which one was considered a hit.
I’ll get to Kramer in a moment, but there was a time when Dwyre was the No. 1 sports editor in the country. I know this because Dwyre told me.
He stepped down as sports editor in 2006 to become a columnist writing about subjects most people didn’t want to read. He wrote about boxing, tennis and horse racing—falling in love with Zenyatta.
I can report with great reliability, though, his wife was not jealous.
He might’ve been the sections best reporter, hearing of sexual assault charges levied against USC quarterback Mark Sanchez and going to the bar to find out the validity of the allegation. That’s what you would expect from a Ntre Dame grad trying to hurt USC.
I joke, I think, but he was the best journalist I ever met.
The Times hasn’t come close to finding a suitable replacement as sports editor, some real bozos in there, and the readers are the ones suffering.
They just brought back an assistant sports editor who had been bypassed several times over for the top sports job to help run the sports department again as an assistant.
He will do so from Florida. It will be his job to make sure reporters are writing nice things about publisher Patrick Soon-Shiong’s favorite sports.
Too bad. If Dwyre was in control of the sports pages now, they would be 100% improved. He would train those struggling to write, and demand his reporters hold those they are covering accountable.
And we wouldn’t have to read a Jack Kramer story.