Chad Hartman had attended the University of Minnesota for a year, and then decided to transfer to Arizona State, which he came to describe as the “Harvard of the West.”
This was a very emotional time for Sid Hartman, Chad’s father, since it would be the first extended period when he was prevented from in-person intrusion into his son’s life.
This was August 1985, and you still could accompany loved ones to the airport gate. There were tears from Sid as Chad offered the final hug and headed toward the jetway.
Chad did not return until Thanksgiving Eve. Sid would park the Cadillac and meet Chad at the gate. Considering the emotions revealed at departure three months earlier, Chad was expecting a greeting as jubilant as his father would have been if the Vikings had won one of those four Super Bowls in which they laid eggs in the ’70s.
Instead, he found his father with head hanging and mumbling a “Hello,” the picture of despondency.
“What’s wrong?” Chad asked, fearing a calamity had struck family or friends.
Sid’s answer? “Holtz is going to Notre Dame.”
Glum Sid greeting Chad at the gate with the Lou Holtz news has long been my favorite Hartman father-son story. “Mine, too, although a strong contender surfaced a few years ago,” Chad said during a late-night phone conversation on Monday.
And here’s the contender:
Hunter Hartman, the oldest of Chad’s three sons, and thus Sid’s grandson, was playing football for Wayzata a few years back. The Trojans had a playoff game with mighty Eden Prairie.
“Sid had been very consistent in going to Hunter’s games and sitting with us,” Chad said.
Except, Eden Prairie’s coach is Mike Grant, and Mike’s father, Bud, also was taking in this game.
“Sid sat on the other side of the field, next to Bud in the Eden Prairie section,” Chad said. “I gave him that ‘really’ look before the game and said, ‘You’re sitting over there?’
“Sid’s answer was, ‘Bud’s here, and Mike, I’ve known him all his life ... but I’ll still be rooting for Hunter.’ ”
Sid died Sunday at age 100. As pointed out by Dennis Anderson, the Star Tribune’s outdoors columnist and wonderful chronicler of Bud Grant, there has been no more surprising “best friendship” than Bud, athlete, sportsman and stoical; and Sid, reporter, klutz and manic.
Sid was 45 when his son came along, meaning Chad had several decades to observe the Sid-Bud relationship. Explanation, please.
“What I’ve seen in Bud is someone who can find a way to relate to anybody,” Chad said. “And when they met at the U in 1946, I get the impression both Sid and Bud were looking for someone to be a great friend.
“Plus, Sid had a car, and I’m sure Bud liked that, too.”
Chad permitted himself a laugh and added: “It’s all true, though. There were no people closer than those two. Bud used the word ‘integrity’ all the time, and they were certain of that in their dealings with one another.
“And Bud’s wife, Pat … she loved Sid. She treated him like a member of the family.”
So much so that Chad could only smile when Sid made the decision to sit with Bud and the Eden Prairie fans on that cold fall night, as his grandson did some battle for Wayzata.
• • •
The Twins conducted spring training in Orlando before moving to Fort Myers in 1991. At a point in the 1970s, a young Chad would accompany Sid on his visits to Twins camp — four days max, just long enough for Sid to get a list from equipment manager Ray Crump (his wife sewed the names on numbers on the uniforms) and scoop the rest of us on what would be the Opening Day roster.
There were enough samples of Chad in action, on both sides of 10 years of age, for the St. Paul beat writer to observe, “Dang, that kid is a demanding brat.”
And then he grew up, and went off to Arizona State, and called play-by-play for football, basketball and baseball at the campus station, and spent a year calling games for the Orlando Twins, and then Chad returned full time to the Twin Cities and made a career for himself — Timberwolves play-by-play, KFAN (and predecessor WDGY), and now a general interest talk show on WCCO.
A year ago, Chad came to Fort Myers with a WCCO group called “Fans in the Stands,” mostly to give his son Quintin, now 19, a chance to visit spring training.
Quintin is the third son for Chad and his former wife, Kathleen, following Hunter, 25, and Griffen, 24. “Q,” as he’s called by Chad, was born with DYRK1A, a genetic syndrome, and is subject to seizures, is on the autism spectrum and has a vulnerable immune system.
Chad and Quintin had dinner with Gregg Wong, a former reporter and a mutual friend, and me in Fort Myers. To see Chad’s care and the exchange of love between him and his son … I had to smile inwardly in recollection of that long-ago Orlando brat and say to myself, “Son of Sid turned out pretty good.”
Quintin did more than allow Chad to reach new heights as a parent. He assures that Quintin also did that for Sid as a grandfather.
“I think it made Sid love the grandkids even more, our sons, and also my sister Chris’ kids, Justin and Kally,” Chad said. “You never saw anything better than when Hunter or Griffen was involved in a game of some kind, and Sid was in the background, chasing around Quinty in a game they had invented.”
This wasn’t Sid as “Grandpa Sports,” as he was referred to on Tom Barnard’s KQRS morning marathon for years, but Grandpa romping as a grandpa … and while in his 80s and into his 90s, by the way.
• • •
Sid had a serious fondness for ice cream. He was notorious for working over the workers at the Williams Arena ice cream stand for an additional heaping scoop, at no extra charge.
A couple of years ago, Chad saw Sid eating a large serving of ice cream at a Timberwolves game. Investigative reporting revealed that a friendly concessions worker had been slipping free ice cream to Sid on a regular basis.
Sid had become a weekly guest on Chad’s midday show on WCCO.
“I told him on-air, ‘I know you didn’t pay for that ice cream; I hope the newspaper doesn’t find out,’ something like that,” Chad said.
Around 5 o’clock, Sid called back the producer and said, “Get that thing about the ice cream out of the show, will you?”
Chad laughed and said: “This was two hours after the show was over, but Sid thought he could get rid of the evidence, apparently. He was 98, he had been selling more newspapers for the Star Tribune than anyone in history for 70 years, and he was afraid he was going to get fired over a free dish of ice cream.
“That’s another thing that made my dad relentless. He always thought he was one day from losing his job at the newspaper or on the radio.”