My tenure as a Star Tribune sportswriter is nearing 21 years, and in that span, I’ve been asked the same question roughly 5,000 times.
What’s Sid like?
No last name necessary. Everyone knew Sid Hartman simply as Sid. And anyone who has worked at the Star Tribune, especially in the sports department, has heard that question many times from friends, family or when meeting someone for the first time.
What’s Sid like?
There aren’t enough pages in this newspaper edition to adequately answer that question. But a few personal memories will always stick with me.
My first child was born in May 2001. A few days after returning home from the hospital, my wife and I were holding our daughter in the living room.
The doorbell rang. A delivery box was on the porch. Inside the package were new clothes for our baby. Several expensive outfits. With a note from Sid wishing us well.
That was Sid.
This was, too. Sid called me “Scroggins” for the first, oh, 10 years that we worked together. One day, he calls me into his office with a serious look on his face.
Sid: Your name isn’t Scroggins?
Me: No, Scoggins. But don’t worry about it.
Sid: Scoggins? Not Scroggins?
Sid: OK, thanks. … You should put an R in your name.
He smiled. He was kidding. I think.
This was Sid, too. I took over as the Gophers football beat writer in 2003. I believe Sid loved Gophers football more than any other team. His reactions during games were legendary to press box regulars.
Sid calls and says he wants to introduce me to some coaches and people around the Gophers program. We meet at the football facility. Sid leads me into a conference room. Glen Mason and his entire staff walk in. Sid says a few words and then says, “Chip, stand up and tell them about yourself.”
Subtlety was not his strength.
Occasionally, Sid would stop by my desk, pull up a chair and regale me with stories from his career that seemed almost unbelievable. He’d hopscotch from one story to the next, remembering in detail his interactions with sports icons — from Bear Bryant to Paul Giel to George Mikan.
“You’re doing a great job,” he’d say as he stood up to return to his office.
Sid would yell at me if I wrote something he didn’t like, and then praise me 10 minutes later. He’d occasionally slip me a gift certificate to take my wife to dinner. He offered to get my dad into Mayo Clinic after he suffered a stroke. Sid was almost 80 when I got hired … and worked 20 more years.
What was Sid like?
An original. Truly one of a kind.