Every day when I would come home for lunch when I was in St. Rita’s during the late 1950s, my mother would have lunch ready and right next to it was a copy of that day’s Philadelphia Daily News.
That was the beginning.
Larry Merchant was the Daily News sports editor, whose plan was to put together the world’s best sports staff. And he did.
Eventually there was George Kiseda and Jack McKinney, Jack Kiser and Bill Conlin, but ahead of all of them were Sandy Grady and Stan Hochman.
Sandy could be called a wordsmith. He wrote in his North Carolina drawl, smooth and smart.
Stan was the kid from New York, always looking for the quick one-punch knockout line.
They died within a week of each other earlier this month, Sandy at 87, Stan at 86.
I knew Stan, last saw him at the Sport Writers dinner in January. He always had an interest in you, asking questions that he would ask a manager, a coach, a quarterback. And he got good answers from you because you wanted to tell him about yourself. I considered him a friend, like most of us in the news business who knew him.
I edited Sandy’s copy when I started out at The Bulletin in 1968 right after I graduated from Temple. A month after I started, Sandy was in Mexico City covering the Olympics. He called the desk one night, I answered, and he said something like,” Frank, would you tell Jack (Wilson, the Bulletin’s sports editor) that I’ve come down with a case of Montezuma’s revenge and I won’t be able to write tonight.”
My first reaction was, “Montezuma? What’d he do, join the Marines?
But I guarantee you it was not the night of the Tommie Smith/John Carlos black-fist salute. Montezuma would have lost that battle.
I never really met Sandy because he never was in the office to write. He eventually went back to the Daily News as it’s political writer in Washington. I always thought the paper screwed up by burying his column too far back in the front news section.
Sandy and Stan were true giants of the newspaper business. Reading their work every day made me a better writer.