I didn't know Sandy well. He was at the Daily News before my time, then went to the rival Bulletin. When that paper folded, he came back to the News, but I had left for CART by then.
Stan and Sandy were iconic examples of what has been called the Golden Age of sportswriting, especially in Philadelphia, a great, Great, GREAT sports town. (When I was there we actually had FOUR competing daily papers. What competition! What a challenge! What fun!) They came to town in the late 1950s, hired by a young Daily News sports editor named Larry Merchant. You've probably heard of Larry because he went on to acclaim, in part, as a Big Time boxing commentator.
What a treat it was for me, as a kid, to read these guys and later work with Hochman, Tom Cushman, Bill Conlin, superstar-in-the-making Gary Smith, Ray Didinger, Dick Weiss, Jack McKinney, Phil Jasner, Ben Callaway, Joe Greenday, very controversial harness writer/handicapper Jack Kiser (who liked auto racing, too) and trailblazing (although she was low-key about it) Mary Flannery. Still with the Daily News is Bill Fleischman, who recommended me to sports editor Mike Rathet for my job with the paper, and Bill still covers racing although he's not a full-time staffer. We also had some legendary broadcasters to know and appreciate, like Harry Kalas, Bill Campbell, Andy Musser, Tom Brookshier (always very kind to Mario Andretti), Gene Hart (the Flyers' announcer who became something of a Michael Andretti fan because Michael was a Flyers' fan) and Al Meltzer.
The news of Stan's and Sandy's passings (which came from Fleischman) was yet another reminder to me of how much the media has changed. And, in many ways, not for the better. (Look no further than the garbage that is Around The Horn and First Take. Empty Suits with Big Mouths.)
I am so thankful I was around for that other era of real sports journalism. If you weren't, you have my sympathy.
POWER PLAYERS for the week of April 19: This week's 10 most influential people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight.
2. Brian France -- What is NASCAR's chairman thinking about entertainment value of Sprint Cup races after all-time Fox record low rating -- first-ever under a 3.0 -- for Texas? And what's the future of Saturday night races since 13 of the 18 lowest-rated NASCAR-on-Fox telecasts have been under the lights?
3. Joe Gibbs: Wins Bristol with Matt Kenseth, but what move can he make to keep The Next Big Thing Erik Jones in his team, with no Cup seat apparently open?
4. Scott Dixon -- North American motorsports' most relentless driver wins Long Beach, IndyCar's second-most important event of the season.
5. Steve O'Donnell -- First, NASCAR's executive VP and chief racing development officer will fix the rule book to clearly definite what "post-race inspection" means. But will he make Kyle Busch Chase eligible upon his return from leg and foot injuries?
7. Danica Patrick -- Bristol top 10 means she's Chase eligible on points after eight races.
10. Richard Childress -- Loses appeal in the No. 31 Tiregate scandal although points and money penalties reduced.
[ more next week . . . ]