Sid Hartman turns 100: Milestone birthday for Minn. newsman

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FILE - In this March 1, 2011, file photo, longtime Star Tribune of Minneapolis sports reporter and radio personality Sid Hartman, who turned 100 on Sunday, March 15, 2020, looks on prior to an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis. Hartman served as the acting general manager of the Minneapolis Lakers who later became the Los Angeles Lakers. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Just like so many Sunday mornings before, Sid Hartman's column was printed in the sports section of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Then he joined the sports talk show on WCCO AM radio.

This time, he did so as a 100-year-old.

During the coronavirus-triggered pause to the games that Hartman has spent chronicling over an eight-decade career, Minnesota sports teams and figures found a reason amid the somberness of the pandemic to celebrate Hartman's 100th birthday.

The Vikings produced a seven-minute video tribute, including greetings from former head coaches Bud Grant, Jerry Burns, Brad Childress and Leslie Frazier, former quarterbacks Brett Favre, Archie Manning and Fran Tarkenton, and broadcasters Al Michaels and Jim Nantz.

Hartman's weekly appearance on “The Sports Huddle” with co-hosts Dave Mona and Mike Max featured callers like former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson and former college football coach Lou Holtz, a few of the many famous names Hartman frequently referenced in print as a “close personal friend.” From George Steinbrenner to Bob Knight to Pete Carroll, Hartman's rolodex has long been a who's-who of the sports world.

“One of the reasons I started working for the newspaper at such a young age was because it helped my family have extra money at that time,” Hartman wrote in his column published in Sunday's editions of the newspaper he began selling on downtown Minneapolis street corners at age 9.

These days, personal nurses are by his side as he makes more limited appearances at games and events. He needs a walker or a wheelchair to get around. Hearing is hard, and his speech is halting and slurred. An iPhone has replaced his oversized, old-fashioned tape recorder.

Nonetheless, Hartman conducts interviews and composes commentary for three columns per week — four during football season — in addition to the radio airtime. Star Tribune copy editor Jeff Day tirelessly handles the transcription and dictation, but make no mistake — the perspective is clearly Hartman's. He remains acutely aware of the salary-cap challenge the Vikings are facing and the sinking attendance of the Timberwolves as well as the upward trajectory of the Gophers football program and the power-hitting potential of the Twins.