Close and Personal Friend: The Baseball Legacy of Sid Hartman
Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY SportsMinnesota lost a close, personal friend and arguably it’s most storied journalist on Sunday. Sid Hartman transitioned over to the Field of Dreams, passing away at the age of 100.
Hartman touched the lives of athletes, coaches, and fans across the state of Minnesota in ways that no journalist has before. Why?
Hartman was not only a stellar journalist, but he treated people as more than just interview subjects; as human beings.
It’s impossible to cluster Sid’s legacy into one moment. Things like his relationship with the Minneapolis Lakers, the trust he obtained from players, and 21,000+ stories he crafted over his 76 years (not to forget his 65 years on radio) are all puzzle pieces to the reasons that the state of Minnesota fell in love with Sid.
And while Hartmann had more connections that any man in the world there was a special part of Sid rooted in the Minnesota baseball community
From his humble roots at the bottom of the newspaper industry to the day that he passed, there was no bigger advocate of Minnesota sports than Sid. Whether it be vouching for a new stadium or backing up players against critics, Hartman was the first to advocate for growth of sports in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
There is a chance that the Twins wouldn’t have even made the transition to Minnesota from Washington in 1961 if it weren’t for Hartman’s voice.
In a 1950’s era where it wasn’t uncommon for newspapers to work behind the scenes to benefit their hometown team, Sid played an instrumental role in the Star Tribune’s pitch to bring Major League Baseball to the state of Minnesota.
The partisanship and loyalty that Sid displayed is something that is unseen now in the media world. Yes, it is a different time, but Hartman’s ability to build bridges made him someone that team’s were honored to have in their corner of the ring.
Loyalty and Trust
Throughout the span of his career covering the Twins Hartman worked with names like Killebrew and Carew all the way through Mauer and Morneau.
Along that winding path he built multi-generational relationships that brought people together. Some of those were showcased last night on WCCO Radio as the station dedicated the day to remember Sid and all the lives’ he touched. The 5-6pm portion was hosted by Twins President Dave St. Peter and featured a slate of former Twins, Jim Pohlad, and even Bud Seelig recalling their fondest memories of Sid.
Stories were unveiled that transcended time and brought back smiles. Joe Mauer recalled first meeting Sid during his time at Cretin-Derham Hall. Joe Nathan laughed about how it always seemed like Sid was the first one there after a blown safe. And Ron Gardenhire shared how if Sid wanted to talk to you for a story, there was not stopping him from tracking you down.
Amongst all the heartwarming and charming stories there was one that stuck out to me. Rod Carew shared how he became close friends with Sid in a relationship bound by trust.
“Sid was the only reporter that I could always trust,” Carew said on air. “Him and Reusse were the only two that I knew I could say anything to and it wouldn’t end up in the paper.”
Carew credited Sid for making his transition to the Twins easier, and a large reason why he fell in love with the state.
“Never Worked a Day in my Life”
I never had the chance to meet Sid Hartman. Yet as we go forth into the future there is a quote of Sid’s that has always stuck with me.
“If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Sid loved sports, but more importantly loved the relationships that came as a product of sports. In today’s world we often forget that athletes are in fact regular human beings, each having a unique story.
Sid didn’t forget.
And while the Star Tribune sports section may seem a bit bare going forth, the state of Minnesota will never forget how Sid Hartman changed the landscape of sports in this state through building bridges and fostering lifelong relationships.
Rest in Peace Sid.
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