There are a number of things to cite on the state of newspapers in the 1960s to explain the taut relationship that existed between Sid Hartman and Jim Klobuchar, two giants of Minneapolis media.
Sid died last October at age 100. Klobuchar died on Wednesday at age 93. This occurred on the same day that Jerry Burns, among the Vikings' legends chronicled by Klobuchar, died at 94.
I was 17 when first entering the Star Tribune building as a sports copy boy for the Tribune in August 1963. Klobuchar was covering Vikings training camp in Bemidji, so it took a couple of weeks before getting a chance to observe the interactions between Klobby and Hartman, then the Tribune sports editor as well as a daily columnist.
And here were those things suggested above:
Loud outbursts of disagreement were routine occurrences in a newsroom. If offended, there was no Human Resources to issue a complaint. You could suck it up, or go whining to a superior, or go to the Little Wagon or Court Bar and sort it out.
Note: Sid didn't drink, so that last one was not an option in his case. With him, the solution was to drink with others and air mutual grievances toward Sid.
Space in the Tribune sports section was always an issue, other than on Sundays. There were Tuesday through Friday sections with four pages, and those included the ads.
Lou Greene was the "slot man'' for most weekdays, charged with squeezing 20 pounds of prose and agate (that's the small type, boxscores, etc.) into a 10-pound container.
"Keep It Tight'' should have been on Louie's headstone. Klobuchar was the first Vikings beat writer, starting in April 1961, and writing "tight'' was not his virtue.
Klobby was the ultimate wordsmith, his passion for pro football was incredible, and midweek, he generally would submit double the assigned length for his Vikings reports.
I had the privilege of being in attendance one night when the row over Vikings space reached a point where Klobby challenged Louie to go out in the alley. And feisty old fellow that was Louie, it might have happened, if there actually was an alley next to the Star Tribune.
Almost always, Sid sided with the forces wanting to trim Klobby's submission, which didn't play well with someone who worked so hard on his sentences as did Jim.
Sid had hired Klobuchar from the Associated Press to cover the Vikings in the spring of 1961. He was impressed with Jim's coverage of both news and sports for the wire service. There were many breaking news stories to pound out rapidly at the AP, and not much time for wordsmithing.
Klobby showed up, sunk his teeth into the Vikings as did no one else, battled Sid for the scoops and for quotes and access to Fran Tarkenton, the team's first hero … and, well, Sid soon discovered he had hired a space-eating monster who was gaining first-read status with the public on Vikings coverage.
Another complication was Klobuchar's fondness for alcohol, which was far from unique in a newsroom, even for those of us who were underage.
The Tribune circulated throughout Minnesota in the 1960s. On Friday nights, for football and basketball, we would take phone calls from prep games border-to-border. Ted Peterson, the Sid of outstate coverage, would take the highlights and crank out a giant outstate roundup on deadline.
It was all hands on deck on those Fridays; even the Vikings beat writer was expected to be there by 9 p.m. and spend a couple of hours taking prep calls.
When Klobby showed, it usually was after spending the time between submitting his Vikings piece and phone duty at the Wagon. When returning from his liquid dinner, Jim already was so fired up for Sunday's Vikings kickoff that he was known to deliver forearm shivers to copy boys, as if he was Paul "The Growler'' Dickson bashing an offensive lineman.
Still an Iron Ranger at heart, he loved tough guys. A signature annual piece on the Vikings became his naming of the all-pro team for the toughest guys in the league.
Kevin Duchschere's outstanding obit on Klobuchar in Thursday's Star Tribune mentioned Jim's brief stay at the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1965, which Klobuchar stated was based on "a personality issue'' with a Tribune sports executive.
Take a wild guess who that was?
Klobuchar made a quick and triumphant return to Minneapolis with the afternoon Star in October 1965. He was teamed with Barbara Flanagan as a dynamic column-writing tandem, to much fanfare.
And to take full advantage of Klobuchar's presence, he covered Vikings games and wrote reviews in the next day's Star that consumed as much space as his mind desired.
He had a fantastic career, a wanderlust that made him a world traveler and adventurer.
Klobby climbed mighty mountains. Sid settled for making those out of molehills, along with the rest of us writing sports from down here at 800 feet in the Twin Cities.