You’d think the Sid Hartman interview would have been easy for me to secure.
We see each other all the time. But the Dean of Twin Cities Sports Writers made me work. On the day he originally agreed to sit down for a video Q & A, he belatedly remembered he had a public appearance after he finished writing his column. While putting me off, he asked that I not make him look, shall we say, silly. I started having a flashback to 2011 when he promised to join me at one of the Lynx WNBA Championship games and then stood me up with a flimsy excuse, even though I was going to treat him to the game and a Butter Knife Steak, too. The day of the rescheduled interview, Sid again tried to duck me. When that didn’t work, he informed me, “If you want me to get controversial, I’m not gonna.” So here it is, ladies, gentlemen and close personal friends everywhere: Sid, the uncontroversial interview!
Q How many close personal friends do you have?
A I don’t know if I have any. This thing was set up by [late WCCO-AM personality] Steve Cannon. Many, many years ago I did a show, ‘Sports Hero,’ where I tried to get the guy who was a big star in athletics who helped win a game or do something unusual. I did about a five-minute tape with the Jack Nicholases, Arnold Palmers, a lot of people I got pictures of in my office here. And Cannon then started to introduce me as, ‘Here’s Sid Hartman with another one of his close personal friends.’ That’s how that got started.
Q How do you distinguish the close personal friend from the personal friend and the friend?
A Hard to do. You’ve probably got a lot more personal friends than I have. In this business a lot of people don’t like what you write or they think you’re inaccurate, think you are blasting somebody. So those guys don’t become your close personal friends. I’ve got a lot of great friends: Lou Holtz, Bobby Knight and George Steinbrenner, when he was living. People like that; those people were kind of more close personal friends, except for people I’ve grown up with and stuff like that.
Q Did you ever tell Bobby Knight that he should knock off the public tantrums?
A I talked to him about that. He does a lot of good for a lot of people and the tantrums are a very small [part] of his life.
Q Where do you get the energy to still outwork everybody in the newsroom?
A I love to have the story first. So every day I make a trip to all the big sports teams in town, something other people don’t do and if you do that, you get stories nobody gets. I still love my job. I spend a lot of time doing it and I get a big kick out of scooping somebody. Maybe others don’t care that much.
Q It’s harder and harder to get scoops these days, isn’t it?
A It’s harder. There’s too much voice mail. You can’t get a hold of people like you could before. Right in this drawer here I’ve probably got so many phone numbers. I’m going to show you … this book that’s maybe 50 years old. All the numbers of every baseball player, every football player. At one time I used to send out 1,500 Christmas cards to guys who gave me interviews and stuff like that. And they are now in that old book.
Q How many Christmas cards do you send out now?
A Not too many.
Q You’ve done it all. What else is there for you to accomplish?
A I don’t know if I’ve done it all. I am proud of the part I played in us becoming a major-league city. When the Cowles [the family that once owned the newspaper] people were here, they led the parade and I was a part of it. I helped a little bit on the football stadium, baseball stadium and assorted other things in town.
Q What do you like to do besides sports, as someone who seems to spend every minute of the day working on sports stuff?
A Spending time with my family, with my grandkids and my daughter and my son and different people who I’ve grown up with all my life. I spend a lot more time with those people than working, contrary to what people think who say, ‘Well, he’s not married. He doesn’t have to spend time with his family.’ I spend more than most of them do.
Q Greatest Minnesota Twin: Carew, Killebrew, Mauer, Oliva or Puckett?
A Greatest Twin: Kirby Puckett without a doubt.
Q Which team — Twins, Vikings, Wolves or Wild — will be next to win their league’s championship?
A I think the Wolves have the best chance of all those teams of winning a league championship. The way they’ve added people to date.
Q I no longer care about the Lynx now that coach Cheryl Reeve looked me in the face and said she’d do a Q & A but hasn’t. Tell me why you don’t like our WNBA team?
A I don’t hate the Lynx. I just can do so much. I’ve gone to a few Lynx games but I have nothing against the Lynx. I applaud what Mr. [Glen] Taylor has done. When he was losing all that money he still kept the Lynx and all of a sudden they win a world championship.
Q People think you are a sexist.
A (No response.)
Q Which will last longer: You or the printed newspaper?
A I hope I do but the printed newspaper, they’re lucky here. They’ve got a great publisher in Mr. [Michael] Klingensmith. He’s done a great job.
Q Around our newsroom you are the King of the Nicknames. You started calling me “Crasher” after I went to a party to which I had not been invited (at the home of former St. Paul Mayor George Latimer. By the way, our former publisher Joel Kramer said he would’ve been disappointed in me had I not shown up there).
A I don’t know, it’s just fun. I like to do that and I walk in this room and I’ve got a name for everybody.
Q How many times have you said to a state trooper who has pulled you over: Don’t you know who I am?
A I’ve never done that once. But I’ll tell you this. I’ve had a lot of troopers call me over and talk sports for 10 or 15 minutes. Maybe they were going to give me a tag but changed their mind.
Q Fondest memory of running the Minneapolis Lakers?
A Winning all the championships, starting the Minneapolis Lakers, running the Minneapolis Lakers and dominating the league for many years.
Q Do you think you’re grumpy?
A I don’t think so. But if you don’t stop on a street and say hello to every single guy and answer their questions, you’re grumpy. Sometimes, aah, I guess I am grumpy.
Interviews are edited. Reach C.J. at firstname.lastname@example.org and see her on Fox 9.