Illustration by Luke Lucas, Special to the Star Tribune

100 years. 100 things. All about Sid Hartman.

  • 1

    Sid was born March 15, 1920 at 10:15 a.m. in Minneapolis’ Asbury Methodist Hospital. He had three siblings — Bernice, Harold and Saul.

  • 2

    Sid Hartman’s father, Jack Hechtman, immigrated to the U.S. from Russia at age 16 and changed his last name to Hartman after he arrived.

  • 3

    His dad was a delivery man and could not read English. Sid never convinced his father, who died in 1972, that pro wrestling was staged.

  • 4

    Sid’s mother, Celia Weinberg, immigrated from Latvia at age 9. She ran a women’s apparel shop.

  • 5

    Sid has said his family ate chicken almost every night growing up. He has avoided it ever since.

  • 6

    In third grade, he heard a teacher say people should get jobs where they don’t watch the clock, that the hours they put in don’t mean a thing.

  • 7

    Sid played the trumpet in the school band at Minneapolis’ Harrison Elementary.

  • 8

    His first newspaper job was selling them on street corners in downtown Minneapolis at age 9.

  • 9

    Sid sold newspapers and watched Bronko Nagurski carry the ball in 1929. Ninety years later, he covered Rodney Smith topping 4,000 yards.

  • 10

    Sid made money hawking newspapers, but lost a lot of that money playing craps in back alleys. He felt guilty and hasn’t gambled for more than 70 years.

  • 11

    Jack Doyle’s restaurant had a gambling operation upstairs. Sid met all the characters; they all had nicknames. His was “Blackie” because of his dark hair.

  • 12

    His first newspaper gig was with Lincoln Life, the Lincoln Junior High student paper.

  • 13

    Sid dropped out of Minneapolis North High School as a junior and accepted a job in the circulation department of the Minneapolis Tribune in 1936.

  • 14

    Sid had a lot of side jobs but was laid off from his circulation job at the Tribune in 1941.

  • 15

    He has lived the rest of his newspaper career worried that he was going to get fired.

  • 16

    Sid’s first car was a 1929 Oldsmobile he bought for $50.

  • 17

    After a brief stint selling vacuum cleaners, Sid went to work in the circulation department of the Minneapolis Times.

  • 18

    Sid got to know baseball star Ted Williams when Williams played for the minor league Minneapolis Millers in 1938.

  • 19

    Williams and Sid became pals, and eventually he would introduce a suspicious Williams to another close friend, Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight.

  • 20

    Sid tried to enlist to fight in World War II, but was rejected because he had bad bouts with asthma.

  • 21

    Sid was hired by Dick Cullum for the Minneapolis Times sports department in 1944.

  • 22

    Sid told Cullum, “I can’t spell and my grammar is worse,” but Cullum said, “Writers are a dime a dozen … reporters are impossible to find.”

  • 23

    Sid’s first byline in a daily newspaper came in the Minneapolis Times, on Oct. 28, 1944.

  • 24

    His first daily newspaper column came in “The Roundup,” in the Minneapolis Times, on Sept. 11, 1945.

  • 25

    Gophers football coach Bernie Bierman didn’t like reporters much, but Sid got a lot of his scoops from trainer Lloyd “Snapper” Stein.

  • 26

    Sid and former Vikings coach Bud Grant are best friends. They bonded when Bud was a student athlete at the U of M and Sid would take Bud out for dinner.

  • 27

    In June of 1947, Sid helped bring professional basketball to Minneapolis when Ben Berger and Maurice Chalfen purchased the Detroit Gems.

  • 28

    The three of them relocated the Gems to Minneapolis, where the team became the Lakers.

  • 29

    Chalfen wanted Sid to quit his newspaper job and be the team’s general manager, but Sid wouldn’t leave.

  • 30

    Sid lined up local boxing promoter Max Winter to become the official GM of the Lakers, although Sid arranged a lot of the personnel moves.

  • 31

    “Those were the days,” Sid said, “where newspaper guys didn’t make much money, so there was no such thing as conflict of interest ...”

  • 32

    When the Minneapolis Times folded, Sid went to work for the Minneapolis Tribune. His first byline was on May 19, 1948.

  • 33

    As the acting GM of the Lakers, he helped the franchise become the NBA’s first dynasty.

  • 34

    To land free agent superstar George Mikan, Sid was in charge of making sure Mikan missed his flight so the Lakers had more time to woo him.

  • 35

    Sid drove Mikan to the airport, but went north to Anoka and Mikan never got on a plane. He signed the next day for $12,000.

  • 36

    With the legendary Mikan, the Lakers won NBA titles in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954.

  • 37

    Sid’s first radio job was in the early 1950s at WLOL-AM. He did pregame and halftime interviews during Gopher football games.

  • 38

    Sid began contributing to WCCO radio in 1955. He remains one of ’CCO’s most recognizable voices.

  • 39

    In 1957, Sid Hartman was named the Sports Editor of the Minneapolis Tribune.

  • 40

    While he was sports editor, Sid wrote six columns a week. He’ll still write four in a week these days during the Vikings season.

  • 41

    “I tried to outwork everybody,” Sid said. “I never had more fun than when I was working.”

  • 42

    Sid left his job with the Lakers in 1957 after Bob Short bought the team.

  • 43

    Sid got the “scoop” of the decade in 1957 when he reported the formation of Control Data, a major computer company in the U.S. for the next 20 years.

  • 44

    Short would move the Lakers to Los Angeles in 1960, just as Minnesota was lining up other pro sports franchises.

  • 45

    After years of behind-the-scenes work to get a major league baseball team to Minnesota, Sid and others were successful.

  • 46

    On Halloween Day in 1960 it was announced the Washington Senators were moving to Minnesota to become the Twins.

  • 47

    The NFL also announced in 1960 that it would award an expansion franchise to Minnesota for the 1961 season, giving birth to the Vikings.

  • 48

    Sid’s close friend and business partner Winter was one of five owners of the team.

  • 49

    The first coach of the Vikings, Norm Van Brocklin, nicknamed Sid “Cyanide Sid.” The team’s longtime trainer, Fred Zamberletti, called Sid “Cyanide” as a joke.

  • 50

    Sid was part of a group that bought a 1961 NBA expansion team in Chicago, the Packers. They eventually became today’s Washington Wizards.

  • 51

    Sid covered the Super Bowl for the first time in 1970 (Super Bowl IV — Vikings vs. Chiefs).

  • 52

    Between 1970 and 2001, he covered every Super Bowl but two (1990 and 1993). He’s covered 31 Super Bowls.

  • 53

    He served as the Twin Cities rep to the Pro Football Hall of Fame committee for decades. The committee meets the day before Super Bowls to consider nominees.

  • 54

    He was famous for his insistence with the committee that they were foolish if they didn’t induct former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff.

  • 55

    Before Super Bowl XLI in 2007, Sid asked Vikings media relations director Bob Hagan if Hagan could set up a meeting with that year’s halftime performer.

  • 56

    Sid and Hagan got behind the scenes at a press briefing. “Hey, Prince!” Sid yelled. “Hello, Mr. Hartman,” Prince said.

  • 57

    Sid did a daily show for many years called “Today’s Sports Hero” for WCCO Radio.

  • 58

    Sid’s most notable “Today’s Sports Hero” interview was when he followed Jets quarterback Joe Namath, into a shower for an interview.

  • 59

    In 1981, Dave Mona joined Sid at WCCO (830 AM) for a Sunday morning sports show that has continued to this day.

  • 60

    A big scoop came in 1974 when Sid reported Ara Parseghian would step down as Notre Dame coach. His source: Dan Devine, Ara’s replacement.

  • 61

    When Sid learned newly hired wordsmith Ira Berkow, on assignment at the Kentucky Derby, had “talked” with Citation: “He interviewed a HORSE!”

  • 62

    Spring training reporters were puzzled as to how Sid would always scoop the Twins’ final roster. His source: Ray Crump, who got names sown on jerseys.

  • 63

    In 1994, Bud Grant was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His presenter was Sid.

  • 64

    Steve Cannon of WCCO coined the term “close personal friends” for famous people Sid liked to name-drop.

  • 65

    When Sid calls out to you, “Hey, genius!” it’s not a compliment.

  • 66

    He makes a habit of sending thank you notes to famous people he interviewed. They are sincere, and often resulted in him getting well-guarded phone numbers.

  • 67

    Sid was known throughout his career for his misspellings of people’s names. He called Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell “Orville Berville.”

  • 68

    He also had some radio doozies, including mistaking Olympic figure skating gold medalist Tara Lipinski for Monica Lewinsky.

  • 69

    Once he chastised a radio caller by saying, “You’re from Chicago, what do you know about Minnesota sports?” The caller was from Chisago City.

  • 70

    In an interview with Vikings receiver Cris Carter, Carter said he talked to God every day. “What do you talk about?” Sid asked.

  • 71

    His great hope is to see the Gophers return to the Rose Bowl, something that almost happened last year.

  • 72

    Bud Grant once said Sid has no idea how cars work, other than they need gas.

  • 73

    Sid and Bud were driving to Superior, Wis. one night. Flat tire. No spare. Remote area. Sid started rushing toward a light. “Long walk, Sid,” Bud said. “That’s the moon.”

  • 74

    Sid had a Sinatra CD in his Cadillac. “Why haven’t you been listening?’’ someone asked. Sid confessed to not knowing how to open the CD package.

  • 75

    Sid especially hated getting “scooped” by someone he worked with, to the point of telling athletes not to talk to writers from the Star Tribune.

  • 76

    His chief “rival” was Patrick Reusse … but he respected Reusse enough to ask him to write his biography.

  • 77

    Sid has yelled at referees during games. He was especially loud when sitting at courtside. For some reasons, referees ended up liking him. Well, some of them.

  • 78

    Bobby Knight is one of Sid’s closest personal friends. They met when Knight coached at Army.

  • 79

    Among other “close personal friends” — Lou Holtz, George Steinbrenner and Howard Cosell.

  • 80

    Sid’s lifelong friend Al Rubinger passed away in 2016 at age 95. They were also business partners in real estate, and Sid considered him a brother.

  • 81

    Al and Sid started their partnership by buying a lunch counter business in 1940 when Al was 19 and Sid was 20.

  • 82

    Sid was married to the former Barbara Balfour from 1964-1972.

  • 83

    Barbara had a daughter, Chris, when they got married and their son Chad was born in 1965.

  • 84

    Sid’s son Chad went into broadcast journalism and now has a daily show on WCCO Radio.

  • 85

    Sid has five grandchildren.

  • 86

    Sid hates elevators. In the old Star Tribune building, he always took the stairs. In the new Star Tribune building, he got stuck in an elevator for 30 minutes.

  • 87

    The Baseball Writers Association of America issues cards to members each year. Sid is now No. 1 in seniority.

  • 88

    In 2003, Sid was inducted into the media wing of the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., by receiving the Curt Gowdy Award.

  • 89

    Starting in 1996, Sid was a panelist on the television show “Sports Show with Mike Max,” for 20 years, joining Max, Dark Star and Patrick Reusse.

  • 90

    Sid was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2003.

  • 91

    On Oct. 10, 2010, a statue of Sid was unveiled outside of Target Center.

  • 92

    The media entrance at U.S. Bank Stadium is named after Sid, and the press box at the U’s TCF Bank Stadium is named after Sid.

  • 93

    In 2019, Sid was elected to the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame.

  • 94

    The University of Minnesota has had 15 men’s athletic directors since Sid started covering the Gophers in 1944.

  • 95

    In good health until his late 90s, Sid broke a hip and had surgery three years ago, and now uses a walker. Sid stopped driving at age 95.

  • 96

    Sid has a nickname for almost everyone in the office. Mr. Shirts, Mr. Discipline, Mrs. Sporting Goods, Mr. Everywhere, Mr. Mortuary, Mr. Internet, Mr. Whatchamacallit.

  • 97

    Sid always greets Tony Oliva by shouting “Mr. America,’’ and then accusing him of having all his money buried in the backyard.

  • 98

    Sid still makes the interview rounds, especially at the U, Vikings offices and Twins games. He comes into the office four days a week to write his columns.

  • 99

    For decades, Sid used a huge tape recorder. His interviews are now recorded on iPhones and he works those transcribed interviews into column form.

  • 100

    Sid has had 21,149 bylines. If a columnist started today and wanted to match Sid, it would take them, writing every day, 58 years.