For those of us growing up in the 50s and 60s with our sights set on working in sports, the sportswriters and sportscasters of the day were our heroes as much as the athletes themselves.
For me, one of my favorite writers was Bill Gleason, a legendary character in Chicago sports circles. I’m sorry to say that Gleason passed away yesterday at the age of 87, leaving many friends and admirers both in and out of the business.
I’ve been lucky enough to reach a point where I’ve personally gotten to know many individuals who once served as professional role models for me. Gleason was one of them. I first met Bill while I was in college, we crossed paths many times over the years in one press box or another and he even did an event with his “Sportswriters on TV” crew when I was at Sports Illustrated. He was always kind and encouraging, something I’ll never forget.
It’s a bonus for me that Gleason, a true South Sider, was a proud White Sox fan. Sportswriter Mike Downey wrote the following after Bill’s death: “Gleason was a White Sox homer and had the courage to say so. He made a commitment to the South Side personally and professionally.”
According to Rick Telander in today’s Sun-Times, Gleason requested that there be no Irish wake, no weeping and sadness and that his passing be celebrated next spring on the South Side with a jazz band, drinking and great merriment.