An enterprising boy who once upon a time sneaked into new Memorial Stadium and watched leather-helmeted Gophers star Bronko Nagurski run the football, Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman was inducted Wednesday night into the revived Star Tribune Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame, fewer than five months shy of his 99th birthday.
The lone inductee to the Hall’s first class since 2006, Hartman was honored by about 500 close, personal friends at the second Minnesota Sports Awards on the field at U.S. Bank Stadium.
He wrote his first column Sept. 11, 1945, for the Minneapolis Daily Times and is fast approaching his 21,000th byline in a career that began when reporters lugged around typewriters and rode the train to Pasadena’s Rose Bowl. He started a radio career at WCCO-AM a decade later, in 1955.
“I wrote a ton of columns over the years, tons of them,” he said in a video interview and tribute played as part of his induction. “Right now, I’ve written more of them over the years and nobody has ever done that.”
And he keeps going, writing three days a week with a busy weekend of Gophers-Indiana, Vikings-Saints and Wolves-Lakers up next.
Former Vikings star Ahmad Rashad was a co-host Wednesday. Former Viking teammates Carl Eller and Paul Krause attended, as did former Twins great Tony Oliva.
Born in north Minneapolis on March 15, 1920, Hartman sold newspapers for a two-cent apiece profit when he was 9 and later launched a 73-plus year career in the business.
He was known by a singular name — Sid — long before Harmon, Prince, Kirby, Lindsay and maybe even Bud came along and has done it all in a career that, like him, keeps going even after he broke his hip during a fall in December 2016: Sports columnist, Minneapolis Lakers general manager, sports editor, WCCO radio personality, dealmaker, cheerleader.
His daily “Sports Hero” segments and Sunday’s Sports Huddle show on the good neighbor WCCO were just part of growing up in Minnesota.
“There are no other Sids out there,” said former Vikings coach Bud Grant, who calls Hartman his best friend. “I don’t care where you are. Anywhere in the Midwest, if you say Sid, they say Hartman. It’s Sid. Everybody knows. You don’t have to put his last name out there.”
He joins 72 other inductees in the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame. Nagurski, George Mikan, Patty Berg and Bernie Bierman were among its inaugural class 60 years ago and more recently Kirby Puckett, Sandy Stephens. Dorothy McIntyre and Rod Carew.
Those last four inductees and six others were in the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame’s last class in 2006 before it went dark for 12 years. It returned with Wednesday’s event that drew those 500 people for dinner, drinks and a program that honored high school, college and pro athletes and coaches.
Friday's Gophers game and that 21,000th byline await Sid, somewhere out there.
“There’s nothing next,” Hartman said. “As long as my health is good and I’m in good shape, I’ll keep on doing the WCCO stuff and I’ll keep on doing the Star Tribune. … My life is good. I enjoy what I’m doing. I’m lucky so far I’m able to do all this stuff.”