I had the pleasure of working with Roger Murray for two years in my tenure as preps editor, but Roger made an impact on me long ago. Nine years ago, to be exact, Murray walked into the Tribune office and said hello to a then-17 year old cub reporter. I was star-struck when I saw him stroll into the sports department, former Star-News prep editor Keven Chavez also having that impact on me. I thought to myself, “How cool that he would be nice to me.” I always wondered what it would be like to meet the people you grew up reading like Chavez, T.J. Simers, Shav Glick, Mike Downey, Bill Plaschke and, of course, Roger Murray (did you know he rubbed elbows with the late Shav Glick and was good friends with the legendary Jim Murray?). Always kind and courteous, Roger offered a wealth of experience and advice to aspiring writers anytime possible. He’ll truly be missed, and I’m sure a lot of coaches feel the same way. Longtime Monrovia baseball coach Brad Blackmore used to play for Roger, and I believe he also covered Randy Bell when he was the Wildcats’ quarterback. Roger would always say being a sportswriter beats working for a living, and he’s right about that. We’re some lucky guys, and even luckier to have worked alongside a living legend.
By Andrew J. Campa, Staff Writer
Over the past 34 years, there have been fewer constants than the steady reporting of veteran journalist Roger Murray. The Whittier Daily News prep sports editor, however, earlier this week decided it was time for a change. (To continue reading, click thread)
Murray tendered his resignation Monday after 13 years of service in Whittier and 34 overall for this newspaper group.
His final day was Tuesday.
“I just think it was time to go,” Murray said. “I’ve enjoyed my job here and the relationships I’ve built with several coaches, players and teams.
“In many ways, I’ve seen several area players grow up and it’s hard not to feel an attachment.”
Santa Fe High School football coach Jack Mahlstede lamented he would miss Murray’s professionalism.
“I appreciated that he never made things up,” Mahlstede said. “Some reporters aren’t sure what happened so they just guess. With Roger, he always made sure his information was accurate.”
Another coach saddened by the news was La Habra’s Frank Mazzotta.
“It’s strange because we started together,” Mazzotta said. “I’ve been here for 12 years and appreciated his diligence and effort to be fair.”
Mazzotta especially looked forward to Murray’s insight, one gained through decades of experience coaching youth sports.
“Roger had a great eye. He would see things about my team that I wouldn’t see,” Mazzotta said. “I guess that comes from experience.”
Murray noted how he enjoyed the growth of the La Habra football team.
“They might be the best program I have ever been around,” Murray said. “I throw them in with the likes of Mater Dei, Concord De La Salle and Long Beach Poly.
“They work just as hard and have a tremendous amount of success.”
Pioneer football coach Ramon Juarez noted success to Murray wasn’t always about numbers.
“Roger was a realist,” Juarez said. “There are people out there that have taken shots at our program.
“Roger never did so. He understood the size of our school and was positive in his comments and was pretty fair.”
What Juarez enjoyed more than the coverage were the simple chats he and Murray had before and after games.
“We’re human beings. Sometimes it’s nice to talk about other things than football,” Juarez said. “He understood that and took the time to ask about my family.”
Murray reminisced about a familiar phrase often uttered to him by former Citrus College coach John Strycula.
“John was never a big fan of numbers,” Murray said. “He always told me that if you hang around long enough in the business, you’ll get them.”
Murray worked for Copley New Service when the company shuttered the doors to its Monrovia office in 1975 and moved to Glendale.
“We had an offset press and they moved everything from Monrovia to Glendale,” Murray said. “They asked me if I wanted to go and I didn’t think it was worth it.”
After about six weeks, Pasadena Star-News executive sports editor Joe Hendrickson offered him a job.
“It was a temporary full-time position where I worked strictly on the desk,” Murray said. “I wasn’t sure how long I would be there.”
Murray had the “temporary” tag taken off on June 16, 1975.
He eventually succeeded Hendrickson as the paper’s executive sports editor and covered several beats from high schools and area colleges to the L.A. Rams, Dodgers and Lakers.
The Monrovia native eventually was transferred to Whittier.
His coverage area in Whittier was half of what it was in Pasadena, but Murray grew to appreciate the community.
“I think this is a wonderful town, one that I would have liked to have moved into,” Murray said. “It’s just neat.”
When asked to single out some of the best moments during his tenure, the usually quick-witted Murray was at a loss for words.
“How can you do that?” he questioned. “There are just so many great moments and so many people that I’ve grown close to that I couldn’t make a list because I know I’d forget someone or something.”
As for his plans, Murray hinted he may be interested in writing a column in the future.
For now, he plans to spend some time between Monrovia and his hometown of Phoenix.
As for his last day, Murray was stoic.
“It’s like I’ve always said,” he concluded. “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. And I’ve enjoyed this run.”