They say he died in his sleep, after watching his beloved Red Sox beat the Yankees one last time.
Fred Turner, the longtime sports editor of the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, passed away Monday after a long illness. He was 67.
I had the privilege of working for Fred on the sports desk in the early ’80s, when every night at the paper was a new adventure.
Fred was a bundle of energy, and his spirit was infectious. He made it fun to come to work. Fred taught me how to think outside the box, to take risks, whatever it took to make the sports section shine.
And what a sports section it was. Great writers like Mitch Albom, Gene Wojciechowski, Bill Plaschke, and many others. Slot guys like Jeff Otterbein, now sports editor of the Hartford Courant, Mark Kazlowski, now at the Dallas Morning News, and Tom Christensen, Fred’s able assistant editor for many years. All worked for Fred and learned from him at the Sun Sentinel.
Still hanging proudly on my wall is the “First in Sports” poster from 1982, when under Fred’s stewardship the Sun Sentinel won the Associated Press Sports Editors contest for best daily sports section in the country.
In the spring of 1982, I received an offer from a paper in Virginia. Fred matched it, and so I decided to stay in Fort Lauderdale. Six months later, I received an offer to join IBM’s communications team. This time Fred told me to go, it was my time to move on, that IBM was a great company and that it was the right career move for me and my young family.
Although I never regretted the move, sports blood still pulses through my veins, thanks in large part to Fred.
Fred Turner was not only my boss and mentor, but a good friend as well. The sun isn’t quite as bright at the Sun Sentinel today. Safe home, Fred.
I had the distinct privilege of meeting Jim McKay. It was more than 25 years ago, in the early 1980s, when I was a 20-something sports writer, working the desk and writing a TV-Radio sports column for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
McKay was in South Florida, perhaps to cover a golf tournament or the Florida Derby. I met him in a hotel lobby on the Galt Ocean Mile, and he was a wonderful interview. He talked of ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and the Summer and Winter Olympics, the British Open at St. Andrew’s or Carnoustie, the Masters, the great horse races and so many other big events McKay covered.
What a story teller. We were scheduled for a half hour, but Jim McKay gave me more than an hour of his time on that Saturday morning. I had more than enough material for a column and beyond. I’ll never forget it
The defining moment of McKay’s career, of course, came during the 1972 Munich Olympics when a Palestinian terrorist organization called the Black September group kidnapped 11 Israeli athletes. After a commando rescue attempt ended terribly, McKay reported simply but so eloquently with three words: “They’re all gone.”
ABC estimated McKay traveled 4 1/2 million miles on assignment for ”Wide World,” covering 40 countries. Ironically he died hours before Big Brown failed in his attempt to complete the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes in McKay’s favorite sport of all, horse racing. McKay called the last Triple Crown in 1978 when Affirmed edged Alydar at the wire in the Belmont.