FOREWORD by LINDA MCCOY-MURRAY
Attached: Author Steven Travers.
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Forget Ring Lardner, Grantland Rice, Westbrook Pegler, Red Smith, Jimmy Cannon or Jimmy Breslin. Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times was the single greatest columnist who ever lived. Not merely the best sports columnist; the best columnist, period.
His column was read by millions daily for decades in arguably the most important media market in the world. What makes this book so relevant and credible is that it was Murray who was responsible for making Los Angeles the most important media market in the world.
. . .
It was not an accident that USC came to Legion Field on September 12, 1970. Among those as responsible as any was Jim Murray. That week, Murray and colleague Jeff Prugh were invited into Bear Bryant’s ornate office. If Bryant was resistant to integration before, he sure was not now. The game was scheduled to prepare ‘Bama fans for his first class of black players in the coming decade. The decorum he showed to Murray indicated Bryant knew the power of his nationwide, syndicated pen.
The game was played. USC blew ‘Bama out. The long and the short of it was that it convinced the South they needed more people who looked like the 10 or 15 black fellas who scored touchdowns, threw passes, caught balls, and made tackles for Southern Cal.
Murray’s September 13, 1970 column was perhaps the finest in sports journalism history. Titled, “Hatred Shut Out as Alabama Finally Joins the Union,” it read in part:
On a warm and sultry night when you could hear train whistles hooting through the piney woods half county away, the state of Alabama joined the Union. They ratified the Constitution, signed the Bill of Rights. They have struck the Stars and Bars. They now hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal in the eyes of the Creator.
He was prescient, but remarkably few others were. It was years before the media acknowledged what Murray knew to be so important when he saw it with the the eyes God gave him. He went on to win a Pulitzer.
· Numerous photos of the great scribe.
· One-on-one interview with ex-L.A. Times sports editor Bill Dwyre, and numerous former colleagues and associates of Jim Murray.
· Foreword by Jim’s widow, Linda McCoy-Murray
A Depression kid
“. . . Beyond the darkness the West”
Noir and marriage
Show biz is not a business
Murray, Nixon and Checkers
The Times they are a changin'
Decade of change
The poet of Brentwood
Love, tragedy, redemption
The great scribe in his twi-light years
Sic transit Gloria
One-on-one with Bill Dwyre
Famous last words
The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation
Jim Murray's career
Steve Bisheff was a young USC graduate making “no money” writing for Bud Furillo’s Los Angeles Herald-Examiner in the 1960s and 1970s. He and another USC man, Allan Malamud, were part of a new wave of young talents who arrived on the scene. Malamud, the former editor of the Daily Trojan, started at the Herald-Examiner but later became a respected colleague of Murray’s at the Times, where he wrote a popular item called “Notes on a Scorecard.”
“I met Murray at a young age in L.A.,” Bisheff recalled. “I was with the old L.A. Herald-Examiner and got to know him as a ‘rookie’ on the Rams’ beat. He traveled to road games and the play-offs. Everyone was a little in awe of the guy. To those of us in the sportswritng business, he was our hero. I remember being nervous sitting down to dinner with him on the road, or at Dodger Stadium or the Coliseum, but he’d put you at ease. He was completely unpretentious and could not have been nicer. He and Mal Florence had been around forever, and we really looked up to these men.
“Murray was a master at hype. He overwhelmed you with knowledge of history. The man was so literate, nobody wrote that way before. Everyone coming up through the USC journalism school, we all tried to copy him. I started out at the Herald. Durslag was completely different. A great writer, but different. Murray was somebody to try and emulate, but nobody could do it.
“Murray’s writing was like punching, with quick shots. Durslag had a common thing, he reached a more traditional sports audience, but with a lot of guys, Murray was up here, you know” (indicating at a higher plane).
“You could not help but notice Murray was very liberal related to the stuff that needed to be written, but not many were willing to write that way. He would write about cities, and he’d get angry at them, and engender unhappy letters. It was hype. They didn’t all realize it was tongue in cheek when he’d crush Cincinnati or Louisville, but his stuff on civil rights was not tongue in cheek. He was a sportswriter, but he had a soapbox. He realized the times he lived in and made use of the power he was given, in the right way.
“He was unpretentious, but I remember once he was sitting in the press box after a game, and we’re both writing our stories. It occurred to me, ‘I’m trying to compete with Jim Murray.’ He would look over and smile and say, ‘Well, we fooled ‘em again,’ and you’d say to yourself, ‘Yeah, right.’
“From our point of view, writing for Bud Furillo you know, we were very aware of a Times-Herald rivalry. The biggest fact was the Times was big and the Herald struggled, except for Durslag. We were always the underdog so we tried to be more irreverent, more fun. The Times was the ‘paper of record,’ and that made the fact Murray was different, more loose and funny, stand out in their paper.
“Furillo and Durslag talked every day and sure, the subject often was Jim Murray. What was he writing? How do we respond? A rivalry, filled with respect. Really good writers at both papers, a great era for newspapers and sports in L.A. was incredible at the time; SC, Wooden’s basketball, Dodgers, Rams.
“Murray played a huge role at the Times. We had nobody quite like that. We all said, ‘Did you read Murray today?’ You constantly referred to Murray. He quickly reached people outside of L.A. People picked up on his quotes. He had the background of a national magazine and the Hollywood connection.
“I would firmly agree that he created what could be called the ‘L.A. style,’ which was jaunty, lively and looser, not as staid as the New York Times. The L.A. Times was staid before he got there, not exciting or interesting, maybe a little sophomoric. Murray was not afraid to write anything, poke fun at them, and make it very clear. He wrote hilarious stories.
“There was almost a tragedy with him which would have been, you know, tragic. The Rams were playing in one of those cold play-off games in Minnesota they seemed to get into almost every year. Jim was locked in the men’s room. The heat was off and it gets cold there, and he’s shouting for somebody to let him out, and it doesn’t take long to get really cold. Somebody heard him and let him out.
“Murray could write about other stuff. The most poignant was when he lost his sight and his first wife passed away. It brought you to tears. It was overwhelming how talented he was. He was not just one way. He was considered light or funny, but if something serious happened, he could deal with it.
“Later Scott Ostler came along. He was light and funny, kind of ‘Murray lite.’ At times it was all a joke. Ostler, Mike Downey; they all tried to write like Jim and could not quite pull it off. But there were so many top writers in L.A. during Murray’s era, either inspired by him or talents in their own right; a Mel Durslag, Doug Krikorian.”
Famous last words
On Branch Rickey
“Rickey had always been held to be the second Great Emancipator but, like the first one, he had a double motive. The first wanted to win a war. The second wanted to win a pennant.”
. . .
Rickey “could recognize a great player from the window of a moving train.”
On Leo Durocher
Branch Rickey said, “Leo Durocher is a mental hoodlum with the infinite capacity for taking a bad situation and immediately making it infinitely worse.”
. . .
“Leo’s problem was, as Runyon said of someone else, he always saw life as eight-to-five against.”
. . .
When he did not get into the Hall of Fame while alive, “Leo, inevitably, finished last himself.”
On Walter O’Malley
O’Malley “followed his customers.”
. . .
“O’Malley had about as high a regard for the freedom of the press as Thomas Jefferson.”
. . .
Of O’Malley’s handling of Dodgers players, “I always thought he regarded them as obstreperous children, fiscally irresponsible, functionally illiterate and as ineducable and temperamental as horses.”
. . .
“A Dodger player, in the O’Malley view, always came out looking like a Republican candidate for the Senate. He wore a tie, took his hat off in elevators and, if possible, went to mass on Sundays.”
On Sandy Koufax
Jim Davenport was asked about hitting against Sandy: “Jim, with Koufax, do you look for the fastball?” “Oh, (deleted), yeah,” shot back Davenport. “The curveball you can’t hit anyway!”
. . .
“But, Sandy always seemed to be running from something.”
On Don Drysdale
With the hitters in the league Drysdale “could lose an election to Castro.” Hitting him is like facing “hand grenades – with the pins out.”
To the memory of Jeff Prugh; a mentor, an inspiration, and a friend
Steven Travers, a former professional baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Oakland A’s organizations, is the author of over 20 books, including the best-selling Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman, nominated for a Casey Award as Best Baseball Book of 2002; and One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game that Changed a Nation (a 2007 PNBA nominee, subject of the CBS/CSTV documentary Tackling Segregation, and soon to be a major motion picture). He pitched for the Redwood High School baseball team in California that won the national championship in his senior year, before attending college on an athletic scholarship and earning all-conference honors. A graduate of the University of Southern California, Steven coached at USC, Cal-Berkeley and in Europe; served in the Army; attended law school; and was a sports agent. He has written for the Los Angeles Times and was a columnist for StreetZebra magazine in L.A., and the San Francisco Examiner. His screenplays include The Lost Battalion, 21 and Wicked. He has a daughter, Elizabeth Travers Lee, and lives in California.
Books written by Steven Travers
One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game That Changed A Nation (also a documentary, Tackling Segregation, and soon to be a major motion picture)
A’s Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be A Real Fan!
Trojans Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be A Real Fan!
Dodgers Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be A Real Fan!
Angels Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be A Real Fan!
D’Backs Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be A Real
The USC Trojans: College Football's All-Time Greatest Dynasty
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly Los Angeles Lakers
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly Oakland Raiders
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly San Francisco 49ers
Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman
Pigskin Warriors: 140 Years of College Football's Greatest Games, Players and Traditions
The 1969 Miracle Mets
Dodgers Baseball Yesterday & Today
A Tale of Three Cities: New York, L.A. and San Francisco During the 1962 Baseball Season
What It Means To Be a Trojan: Southern Cal’s Greatest Players Talk About Trojans Football
The Poet: The Life and Los Angeles Times of Jim Murray
The Last Icon: Tom Seaver’s Town, His Team, and His Times
God's Country: A Conservative, Christian Worldview of How History Formed the United States Empire and America's Manifest Destiny for the 21st Century
Angry White Male
The Writer’s Life
The USC Mafia: From the Frat House to the White House to the Big House
Ambition: My Struggles to Fail and Succeed in Baseball, Politics, Hollywood, Writing . . . and the Rocky Path I’ve Walked With Christ
What Is Truth? Powers That Were, Powers That Are
Vietnam, Longhorns, & Duke Wayne’s Trojan Wars
Praise for Steve Travers
Steve Travers is the next great USC historian, in the tradition of Jim Murray, John Hall, and Mal Florence! . . . the Trojan Family needs your work. Fight On!
- USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll
. . . Steve Travers tells us all about the exciting and remarkable football . . . . that not only changed the way the game is played; it . . . changed the world.
- Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump
Steve Travers combines wit, humor, social pathos and historical knowledge with the kind of sports expertise that only an ex-jock is privy to; it is reminiscent of the work of Jim Bouton, Pat Jordan and Dan Jenkins, combined with Jim Murray' turn of phrase, Hunter Thompson's hard-scrabble Truths, and David Halberstam's unique take on our nation's place in history. His writing is great storytelling, and the result is pure genius every time.
- Westwood One radio personality Michael McDowd
Steve Travers is a great writer, an educated athlete who knows how to get inside the player's heads, and when that happens, greatness occurs. He's gonna be a superstar.
- San Francisco Examiner
Steve Travers is a phenomenal writer, an artist who labors over every word to get it just right, and he has an encyclopedic knowledge of sports and history.
Steve Travers is a “Renaissance man.”
- Jim Rome Show
Steven Travers will appear at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, USC campus, April 20-12.
Steven Travers’s web page
Recent articles by Steven Travers
TIM COOK: CAN HE EVER FIND TRUE SUCCESS?
I AM AN ENIGMA INSIDE AN ENIGMA
THE INNER ZEN OF BARRY ZITO
Articles at WorldNetDaily
Follow Steven Travers on Twitter @STWRITES at
and friend him at
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism