Joe Jares: 1937-2016 — Daily News editor and columnist, SI staff writer, USC journalism professor, author

Joe Jares, right, with wife Suzy, from a recent re-release of his book, "Whatever Happened to Gorgeous George."

Joe Jares, right, with wife Suzy, at the 2015 USC Athletic Hall of Fame induction.

Joe Jares, a former Los Angeles Daily News sports editor and columnist in the 1980s and ‘90s who spent more than 15 years at Sports Illustrated, died Saturday night in Los Angeles. He was 78.

A general-assignment reporter at the Los Angeles Times as well as a writer for United Press International and the Los Angeles Herald-Express before joining SI, Jares covered more than 20 different sports, specializing in tennis and college basketball.

bookjaresHe authored nine sports-related books during his career, topped off by the popular 1974 “Whatever Happened to Gorgeous George,” an affectionate history of pro wrestling from the 1940s to the ‘60s. Sports Illustrated ranked it at No. 76 on its list of the “Top 100 Sports Books of All Time” in 2002.

The book was inspired by Jares’ father, Frank, a pro wrestler best known as “The Thing,” a villain among the ranks of performers in that time.

“In his prime, Pop was just a shade under six feet tall and weighed 230 pounds with short brown hair, a neck like a steel pillar, big biceps and ears much more like cauliflowers than rose pedals,” Jares wrote in the book. “Most people can fold their ears in half, but Pop’s seem to be made of solid gristle and will not bend more than half an inch. He had, and still has, rather full lips and prominent cheekbones, a Slavic countenance that would fit perfectly in a Warsaw union meeting or the Notre Dame line.

“His wrestling stage name was Brother Frank, the Mormon Mauler from Provo, Utah, but really he was just Frankie Jares from northside Pittsburgh, the son of a Bohemian butcher from Czechoslovakia and a U.S-born mother, also Bohemian. … Naturally, he grew up to be a tough guy, but something of a gentle, tough guy. He spanked me only twice in my life. Even though he traveled a lot, I thought I knew him, but I actually did not know him well at all until I spent one summer with him in Tennessee and Alabama – the summer of 1956.”

Joe Jares, third from left, joins the 2015 USC Athletic Hall of Fame class that included Pete Carroll.

Joe Jares, third from left, joins the 2015 USC Athletic Hall of Fame class that included Harold Miner (fifth from left) and Pete Carroll (back row, second from right)

In addition to writing at SI (1965-1981) and writing and editing at the Daily News (1982-2002), Jares became a prominent professor at the School of Journalism for his alma mater, USC, during the 1980s. He graduated in 1959 as a Phi Beta Kappa. The former Daily Trojan sports editor also played on the freshman basketball team at USC after graduating from Hamilton High School in L.A. For his coverage of the university over his career, he was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.

One of his favorite USC-related pieces for SI was in October, 1968 called “Life in a Jock House,” about Trojans athletes who were members of his Kappa Alpha chapter in the 1950s – football standouts Jon Arnett, Ernie Zampese and twins Marlin and Mike McKeever, golfer Al Geiberger and swimmer Chuck Bittick.

Upon the passing of John Wooden in 2010, Jares wrote a special column for the Daily News about the legendary UCLA coach that included: “He was an idol to many long before he won his first NCAA championship 16 years into his UCLA tenure. I grew up in West L.A. when a ‘Johnny Wooden’ haircut (shaved sides, flat top) was cool and there was no better place to get one than at the Blue ‘n’ Gold barbershop in Westwood (slogan: ‘We’ve been trimming Bruins for over 40 years’).”

In 2011, Jares also did a special piece for SI for their series, “The Best Team I Ever Covered,” about the 1968 UCLA Bruins basketball team. In that, he wrote: “Watching John Wooden, Lew Alcindor and the Bruins roll to the NCAA title that season — their second straight and fourth in five years — was made more delicious because the Bruins were not perfect. They actually lost a game, and not just any game, but a contest played before the biggest crowd in the history of the sport.

“(Full disclosure here: I went to USC, UCLA’s bitter crosstown rival, and was a starting forward on the 1955-56 frosh basketball team that lost four times to the ‘Brubabes.’ Did this cause me discomfort in covering Bruin triumphs? Not at all. I wanted to report on the big stories. Also, I’m not above sleeping with the enemy — my wife is a UCLA graduate.)”

jaresmugAmong the other books Jares wrote was “Conquest: A Cavalcade of USC Football” in 1981 with coach John Robinson; “Clyde,” with New York Knicks star Walt Frazier;  “Basketball: The American Game,” and “The Athlete’s Body” with Ken Sprague. His last was “The Golden Age of College Tennis” in 2009 with former USC coach George Toley.

When Jares left Sports Illustrated in the early 1980s to join the L.A. Daily News staff, longtime columnist Dennis McCarthy said it brought the paper “class and credibility … We finally had a guy on our Triple-A team with major league talent and credentials.

“When you wrote something good, he was the first guy to let you know. When you bombed, he was the first guy to let you know. If they’ve got a broadsheet up in heaven, they just got themselves one hell of an editor/writer.”

Jares, who battled recent lung disease as well as pneumonia, is survived by his wife, Suzy, as well as two daughters, Hayley and Julie, a granddaughter Emma and grandson Noah. Services are pending.

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Weekly media sports notes version 06.30.16

Illustration by Jim Thompson/https://thompsonsportsart.com

Illustration by Jim Thompson/https://thompsonsportsart.com

What’s worth posting now as June swoons into the Fourth of July weekend:

== Our plan is for a Sunday media appreciation on the sports broadcasting career of Tom Kelly, most associated as the voice of USC sports who died this week just days before his 89th birthday. The story we already posted on it, as well as a piece that current USC play-by-play man Pete Arbogast posted on the Southern California Sports Broadcasters blog.
Included in that post:
“Last time I saw him was at a Southern California Sportscasters luncheon at Lakeside Country Club just before Father’s Day last year. Impeccably dressed as always he seemed like the fun, irascible and bombastic man we’ve all come to know and love. “People used to come up to me and call me ‘Mr. Arbogast,’ and I would deflect that honor to my father, until he passed away. They also like to call me ‘The Voice of the Trojans.’
To me, there will always be only one of those.”

== Not long after Time Warner Cable SportsNet did not announce the departure of Dave Miller as a Lakers studio analyst, the company revealed today through its Charter Cable  parent company that Mike Bresnahan, who has spent the last 12 years as a Lakers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, will join the network as its exclusive “Lakers Insider.” It’s a revolving role he has been part of since the network launched in October, 2012.
Bresnahan’s tweet on the matter.

Continue reading

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Tom Kelly: 1927-2016

Tom Kelly, right, at the Southern California Sports Broadcasters 2014 Awards Luncheon, with current USC broadcaster Pete Arbogast.

Tom Kelly, right, at the Southern California Sports Broadcasters 2013 Awards Luncheon, with current USC broadcaster Pete Arbogast.

Tom Kelly, the signature voice of USC sports starting in the early 1960s and spanning five decades, died Monday morning at his home in Encino after a long battle with cancer.
Kelly died two days before his 89th birthday Wednesday.
“He was one of the most inspirational broadcasters to me personally that I have ever met,” said Chris Roberts, the recently retired voice of UCLA sports after 23 years and current president of the Southern California Sports Broadcasters group.
“He was always encouraging and positive.  He used to say, ‘Hang in there, kid.'”
More at this link.
Also:
51O7LXCFJkL== The 2007 book we did with Kelly on his life in broadcasting, updated in 2012.
== Our interview with him early in 2007 about why he was no longer calling USC games.

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Sunday media: The book on heckling, and what the heck we aim to gain from it

A fan with a Dodgers jersey and the name "Problems" wearing No. 99, took advantage of the Dodgers' 2014 expansion of the areas behind the bullpens during a Dodgers-Angels Freeway Series.

A fan with a Dodgers jersey and the name “Problems” wearing No. 99, took advantage of the Dodgers’ 2014 expansion of the areas behind the bullpens during a Dodgers-Angels Freeway Series. And we were there to capture it.

Dodger Stadium was recently renovated to allow fans better access around the entire park — which included putting tables and chairs beyond the bullpen back walls, and planting a full bar nearby.
It seems to be all but asking patrons to have a drink and start heckling the relief pitchers as they warm up – home or visiting team.
9781493024513With the Dodgers this year, it does work both ways.
“I think teams are responding more to people who want to interact more with players and not feel so detached,” said Kevin Nelson, author of the book, “The Official Heckler Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Offending and Irritating the Enemy.”
“And that’s what a heckler can do – knock down that invisible wall between them and the field. And it’s mostly for the good.”
Mostly.
If done correctly. And with the proper intention.
One of the greatest heckles we ever heard at a game: The 2003 Orange Bowl in Miami between USC and Iowa. The Hawkeyes took the lead by running back the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Eventually, the Trojans broke open a 10-10 halftime tie with four consecutive touchdowns in the third and fourth quarter. The game was effectively done and the crowd was just quietly waiting for the scoreboard to click off the remaining time when a fan stood up and yelled: “Attention: There is a tractor in the parking lot with its lights on. Iowa license plate: E-I-E-I-O.”
It worked on many levels, enough to where the Iowa fans in the area could have a laugh as well about it.
What made that particular one work, and one remembered all these years later?
We get more into that aspect, and why it seems Los Angeles lacks a signature sports heckler in these times of YouTube stardom, with this week’s media column effort. Hopefully, you’ll find it at this link. If not you have every reason to start berating our professionalism.

Another form of heckling -- stitched into a scarf -- was on display during the U.S.-Argentina Copa America soccer game in Houston this week. What's the point again?

Another form of heckling — stitched into a scarf — was on display during the U.S.-Argentina Copa America soccer game in Houston this week. What’s the point again?

 

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