RIP Sid Hartman

Sometimes it seems like everyone in the Twin Cties has a Sid Hartman story.

I had one – 34 years ago. And I can’t believe I never wrote about it in my “Twenty Years Ago Today” series.

I was working as a stringer – an ad-hoc freelance reporter – for WGN in Chicago. My job was to send reports on the game back to WGN – actually, to the show that Dana Carvey, Mike Meyers, John Goodman and Chris Farley lampooned a few years later, in the immortal “Da Bearss” bit – at halftime and at the end of the game.

This game happened to be Tommy Kramer’s best throwing game ever – five touchdowns against Forrest Gregg’s hapless ’86 Packers.

After the game, I walked down into the locker room and was interviewing Kramer, when I saw a mike creep up in front of the quarterback’s face. It was Sid. And he was bogarting the answer to my question.

And I felt a little flattered.

There are other, better Sid stories. This one may be my favorite

9 thoughts on “RIP Sid Hartman

  1. Yah sure, the guy was a legend, blah blah blah. But there was a dark side. One of my medical partners handled health care for Vikings and Timberwolves. Also for Mr Hartman, who, when he wanted to see the doctor, showed up sans appointment, loudly berating the front desk staff in front of patients with appointments who were destined to have a longer wait time so Sid could get in first. My partner attempted to introduce me to Sid once in the press room at Target Center as we sat face to face across a table. Sid’s gaze didn’t even flicker in my direction as he yammered about whatever topic was burning in his mind. I’m going to take a pass on the Hartman love fest. RIP, indeed.

  2. Golf,

    Yep. I heard a whole lot of stories about the less-admirable side of Sid over the years, too. He was a little entitled. :-/

    But he’s been dead two days. I’m gonna keep it light for now.

  3. Every single story I’ve heard people tell about Sid involves in some way or another him being an arrogant prick. But like everything else, that coin has two sides and so, depending on perspective and whose ox got gored, one could either get a chuckle (that Sid!) or grumble (that %*@!#^ Sid).

    I imagine the various elder statesmen of the Twin Cities Sports columnists (Barrerio, Ruesse, Soucheray, et al) will be in prime form for the next few days.

  4. I would see Sid cruising through the skyways a fair amount. Saw him at Murray’s a few times, too. He was unmistakable. Anyone who can keep a byline for 75 years is amazing.

  5. I saw a lot of Sid in action in my days as a scoreboard operator at the Dome. The operators had a glassed in, air-conditioned room at the side of the press box, and he was “El Sid”, ruling the box and all that his eyes could see. The first year of the Dome we had a miserable console for entering balls/strikes/outs; the piece of crap required you to push down on a thin pad to increment the count. Unfortunately, it was very balky and often you’d push it and it would take several seconds for the information to appear on the board – and sometimes not at all. Or you’d punch, wait, and not see anything and punch again – and then it would jump two numbers. Drove us crazy, but not as crazy as it drove El Sid. He’d jump up, storm over to our room, open the door and bellow, “The count’s wrong!” (As if we didn’t know that, and were already trying to correct it.) One game I was working the out of town scores in the back of the room and we had three or four balls/strikes malfunctions with Sid barging in. When it happened again I happened to be standing by the door, so I nonchalantly reached over and locked the door as he approached and turned my back to it while I ostensibly looked over the shoulder of the operator. Sid rattled the handle, pounded the door, and then started cursing my intelligence and ancestry, but he did go away and didn’t bother us again. After that I didn’t have many interactions with him. Usually, if he bothered to notice me at all, he’d just glare at me.

    Still, you had to admire his tenacity and focus; he was perhaps the archetype “news-hound”, leveraging his way into scoop after scoop. His drive and focus probably kept him alive and working (he even posted his last column on the day he died). Jon Krawczynski made a great point in his tribute to Sid on The Athletic: it was COVID that killed him:
    The day he could no longer cover a game for the paper would be the day he died, we would say. And in some ways, that may have been the case. Ever since pro and college sports returned from the COVID-19 shutdown, “covering” the game has dramatically changed. For good reason, media are sequestered in the press box. Locker rooms are off-limits. Almost all interviews are done via video conferencing. Even Sid couldn’t get around these regulations. Almost nothing of what made Sid love to come to the games, and what made him so good at covering them, exists right now in the day-to-day duties of a reporter.

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  7. Nice to see you again Mr. Stewart. I see you’re still quite the wordsmith.

    I agree with the bulk of folks here. Sid was a prick. I work with several folks affiliated with the Twins organization who had run-ins with him. He defined entitlement.

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