Sports world mourns loss of beloved Minnesota columnist Sid Hartman at age 100

Commissioners, sports team owners, coaches and athletes mourned the loss of iconic Minnesota sportswriter Sid Hartman, whose impact stretched far beyond the Twin Cities and Gopher State. He died Sunday at age 100.

Hartman's son shared the news on Twitter Sunday afternoon. "My father’s extraordinary and resilient life has come to a peaceful conclusion surrounded by his family," Chad Hartman wrote.

Chad Hartman added that his father didn't die from COVID-19, according to the Star Tribune, "but COVID took away the enjoyment from his life by making him stay home. It took away the chance to see the people he liked. It took away his zest, not being able to go four, five different places every day and to laugh.”

Sid Hartman, who turned 100 on March 15, was a prominent figure in the community, covering sports for nearly 75 years as a reporter and columnist for the Star Tribune and as the voice for WCCO radio. 

Hartman still contributed three to four columns per week to the Star Tribune, accumulating 21,235 bylines since the start of his career in 1944, according to the newspaper. He wrote 119 columns in 2020 with his last column published the day of his death.

Minneapolis Star Tribune sports columnist Sid Hartman, an old-school home team booster who once ran the NBA’s Minneapolis Lakers and achieved nearly as much celebrity as some of the athletes he covered, died Oct. 18, 2020. He was 100. (Photo: Ann Heisenfelt, AP)

"It's a sad day," Star Tribune sports editor Chris Carr told the Associated Press. "He is the Star Tribune in many ways, at least in the sports department. It speaks to his amazing life that even at 100 and a half years old, he passes away and we still can't believe it."

Hartman was also instrumental in bringing professional sports teams to Minnesota. 

In his autobiography "Sid!" originally published in 1997 and updated in 2007, co-written with fellow Star Tribune sports columnist Patrick Reusse, Hartman includes reflections of the unprecedented access he had in the local sports community and recounts bringing a professional basketball team to Minnesota.

Hartman wrote that in 1947 he offered $15,000 to the owner of the Detroit Gems of the National Basketball League to buy the franchise, which then became the Minneapolis Lakers. Hartman was the de facto general manager all while continuing his journalism career.

The Lakers won the NBL championship their first season and went on to win five NBA championships before Hartman left the team in 1957 and the Lakers relocated to Los Angeles in 1960.

As the news of Hartman's death spread, the sports world and beyond reacted. From the teams and athletes he covered to politicians, all to express their admiration for the late fixture of Minnesota sports culture.

“Sid Hartman was a singular figure of the Minnesota sports scene throughout the entire history of the Twins franchise, and a friend to so many throughout our National Pastime,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Appropriately, he was member No. 1 one for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America at the time of his passing, as well as the organization’s longest tenured member. ”

Minnesota college teams and coaches took to social media to express what Harman meant to their organizations, including Gophers and athletic director and head coaches. 

"Thank you for inspiring me; for pushing me and my team to a level where no matter what sport or gender, if you win and do it the right way, you can capture the attention of an entire state," head coach of the Minnesota women's basketball team Lindsay Whalen wrote.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar also shared her sadness and a fond memory with the legend in a series of posts. 

We lost sports journalist legend Sid Hartman today at age 100 but many happy memories. Here we are at the ⁦@wccoradio⁩ State Fair booth on the Dave Lee show doing the annual “Minnesota Hospital” skit. I was Nurse Helen and Sid played the infamous “Dr. Kidney Hartman.”

Countless athletes have shared their heartfelt moments with Hartman along with the Minnesota Lynx, Timberwolves, Vikings, St. Paul Saints and Twins. 

"Our hearts are broken with the news of Sid Hartman's passing. It is nearly impossible to put into words what Sid meant to the sports world and to Minnesota," Minnesota Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf said in a statement. "He was an iconic sports figure, a tenacious reporter and a tireless advocate for his beloved state. His doggedness and work ethic were unmatched, but it was Sid's ability to nurture relationships that truly set him apart. He was a confidant and a loyal friend to countless athletes and coaches across the country."

To our close personal friend.

For Hartman's 90th birthday in 2010, a statue of him holding his radio microphone and oversized tape-recorder, with a Star Tribune newspaper tucked under his arms, was unveiled outside the Target Center, home to the Timberwolves. 

“I have followed the advice that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life,” Hartman wrote in his column published on his 100th birthday. “Even at 100, I can say I still love what I do.”

Contact Analis Bailey at [email protected] or on Twitter @analisbailey.

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