By Bob Keisser

Notes on a scorecard:

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then I hope Allan Malamud is smiling in some heavenly deli, surrounded by pastrami, plasma big screens and a room full of friends who are laughing in-between snorts about Barry Bonds and O.J. Simpson …

Malamud was the much-beloved sports columnist at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner who passed away 11 years and two months ago. More relevant, today would have been his 65th birthday, and he would have celebrated by trying to hit the pick six at Hollypark or reveling in the continued hysteria of an odd college football season …

Malamud spent his last six years working at the downtown newspaper, but with all apologizes to the whale, he was a citizen of the Herald-Examiner. That’s where he broke into the business after graduating from USC. It’s where he covered the Los Angeles Kings. It’s where he became sports editor and the city’s signature notes columnist …

It’s where he was everyone’s best friend. There was nothing like walking into the sports department at the Herex in the morning and seeing Malamud at his computer meticulously writing snappy one paragraph items that ranged from simple information to concise opinion to one-liners good enough for a late night talk show …

Add look-a-likes: Barry Bonds and Pete Rose …

Things like that …

There was nothing like seeing him pull out a wallet that looked thicker than a three-tiered wedding cake, stuffed as it was with dozens upon dozens of pieces of paper containing his notes. I often thought one might find Jimmy Hoffa in there, between a note about Kings announcer Bob Miller and Ron Shelton’s private phone number.

It’s perhaps a sad state on where the news media ranks in today’s world that you can run a google search of “Allan Malamud” and you’ll only get some of the obituaries and remembrances of him and his film career on IMDb …

No copies of his columns. A few one-liners on baseball blogs, a capsule of his run-in with Walter Alston, a note about his breaking the Steve Garvey-leaving-the-Dodgers story …

Of course, Malamud was proud of that film career, which included parts in “Raging Bull,” “Cobb,” “Tin Cup,” “White Men Can’t Jump,” where he played a rocket scientist on a faux version of Jeopardy, and, of course, “Fever Pitch,” which inexplicably was overlooked by the Oscars …

“Fever Pitch” was a movie about a sportswriter that was filmed at the Herex, and thanks to Mud every sportswriter at the paper had a cameo, which did wonders for our ego but was no help with the critics or box office …

The best part of “Fever” was the scene where Mud broke up a fight at the race track. It wasn’t typecasting …

It would be pretty easy to become nostalgic and sad right now, because there’s been a very odd intersecting of passings and anniversaries like Mud’s birthday at the moment …

Malamud didn’t know Dan Bailey, the longtime 49er trainer who passed away suddenly Friday, but he would have liked him. He was the kind of guy Mud adored, a regular guy who was dedicated and loyal …

Bailey’s passing came the same weekend as the annual Klaus Barth fun run and swim biathlon. The former Wilson swim and water polo coach passed away in October last year after fighting brain cancer for six years. Frank Burlison’s mom recently passed …

Bud Furillo, who was the patriarch of the Herald sports family, has now been gone 16 months, and the family tree of Herald people, even as we all age, still has roots in most every newspaper in the city …

Press-Telegram? Doug Krikorian and this writer. Times? Larry Stewart, Bob Mieszerski, Steve Horn, Jay Christensen. Chuck Culpepper is a special assignment reporter for the Times. Daily News? Kevin Modesti is its sports editor. Lyle Spencer, Ken Gurnick and Tom Singer write for mlb.com. Fred Robledo, John Beyrooty and Jack Disney are in local sports public relations. Mitch Chortkoff writes for Santa Monica. Rich Levin is Bud Selig’s right hand. Karen Crouse is at the New York Times. Diane K. Shah is a freelance writer and novelist …

Steve Guiremand is in Las Vegas. Rick Sadowski, a future Hockey Hall of Famer in the writer’s wing, is in Denver. Steve Bisheff, ex of the Register, is now writing blogs for KSPN. Mel Durslag has been retired for years but I imagine he could still outwrite all of us …

If Mud was around today, he’d tell you that Burlison, Robert Morales, Joe Haakenson, Chris Dufresne, Steve Dilbeck, Brian Dohn, Freddy Robledo, Brad Turner and Brian Golden would have fit well at the Herald, too. Former P-T sports editors Jim McCormack and Jim Buzinski, too. He would also read every newspaper in town from front-to-back, as he did years ago …

He would really lament that sports like track and field and horse racing have slipped so far out of the public eye that the breaking of the American record in the mile is a short story in the back of the section and the passing of John Henry was shrugged off …

He also would not have let the 18th anniversary of the Herald’s passing go without mention, too, which is what happened. Its last issue printed on Nov. 2, 1989, back when we were all so young …

Back when many of us started each day reading “Notes on a Scorecard.” There are many reasons to be sad today, but I will instead spend it thinking of men who are gone but never forgotten …

What reminds me: Whatever happened to Shergar?

Bob Keisser is a sports columnist for the Press Telegram of Long Beach, California, where this column originally appeared on Nov. 18, 2007. Reprinted by permission.

Advertisements