Reusse: If you underestimate Sid, it's at your own risk

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 18, 2014 - 9:29 AM
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Wherever there is a figure of authority in Minnesota sports, such as Gophers football coach Jerry Kill, Sid Hartman won’t be far away.

Photo: MARLIN LEVISON • mlevison@startribune.com,

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Major League Baseball, the Twins and the Pohlad Family Foundation will be donating $8 million to charities and projects in conjunction with the All-Star Game on July 15 at Target Field.

The projects include upgrades at four baseball fields in the Twin Cities. There will be a renovation to a field in north Minneapolis. At the Twins’ request, the Minneapolis Park Board has approved the name to be Sid Hartman Field.

The official announcement of this will take place Sunday at Target Field, during a pregame ceremony to honor Hartman.

“[Owner] Jim Pohlad asked us last fall to look into recognizing Sid with a day at the ballpark,” Twins President Dave St. Peter said. “The reason for this was straightforward: to honor Sid for what he has meant to Minnesota sports.”

The significance of a first-class baseball field in north Minneapolis named for Hartman also is straightforward: Sid grew up in that part of town.

His roots there even hold a historical place in his newspaper career. Sid Hartman’s first byline appeared in the Minneapolis Times on Oct. 28, 1944. The subject was the successful athletic programs at Patrick Henry, the high school that had opened in north Minneapolis four years earlier.

Twenty years from now, when hopefully the youngsters of this city are playing baseball in large numbers at this field, we can imagine one lad peering at the signage and saying to another, “Who’s Sid Hartman?”

That’s also a question that those of us who have known Hartman for 50 years can ask ourselves on May 18, 2014, as Sid, in his 70th year as a sportswriter and media figure, and in his 95th year on the planet, takes his bow at Target Field.

Let’s start with this puzzle: Bud Grant is the most measured person I’ve met in covering sports. Everything about Bud makes sense, except the fact he has no greater friend than Sid.

I’m guessing that Bud has spent eight decades never making a decision that he didn’t calculate. Meantime, his pal Sid has conducted himself with the patience of Vlad the Impaler dealing with rivals in the Ottoman Empire.

Sid and I have been regulars at the same grocery store in Golden Valley for years. On numerous occasions, I would be saluted at the deli counter or checkout line with, “Your buddy Sid was just in here.”

My response: “Did he congratulate you for excellent service?”

Their response: “He told me to hurry up.”

Don’t ever believe it if someone offers the wisdom that Type A personalities are destined to fall well short of America’s average life span of 78.6 years. Sid has been Triple-A every day of his adult life, and he’s on the north side of that average by 16 years.

My name for Sid is “the Great Man” — stolen from former colleague Jon Roe and offered by him with both humor and amazement.

Aging waits for no man, but it waited until the 90s to take a couple of steps away from Sid. His No. 1 obstacle has been hearing, which definitely makes for interesting dialogue on “The Sports Show,” a half-hour TV effort on Sunday nights that’s more sitcom than sports panel.

I was talking with Jerry Kill on Friday and he said: “I don’t watch much TV, but I never miss that show with Sid and you fellows on Sunday night.” And then the Gophers football coach started laughing.

We can all agree hearing loss is no fun. That didn’t stop this recent moment on “The Sports Show’’ from being funny.

Sid was wearing a high-tech amplifier to assist with his hearing. He told Mike Max, the moderator, that he wanted to come back from a break with a plug for this device.

We returned with Sid profusely thanking the people behind this remarkable device for their assistance. So, Max asked a follow-up question and Sid offered his familiar, “Huh?”

And then, as you’re thinking what’s happening here, Sid tells readers of the Star Tribune on the morning of the NFL draft that they should expect UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr to be the Vikings’ first choice.

“I didn’t see anybody in the mock drafts that had us taking Barr,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “Except Sid.”

Zimmer has been in town about 15 minutes, and already he’s referring to “Sid” as a full identification of the man, and shaking his head in wonder.

Oh, yeah, in the next morning’s Strib, Sid told us that Scott Studwell had stepped down as the Vikings’ director of college scouting.

The Great Man might be throwing mostly changeups rather than fastballs on the hands these days, but he’s still getting people out.

 

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. preusse@startribune.com

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