I knew if I worked long enough this day would come, and for me personally, saying goodbye to veteran sports writer Roger Murray, who spent the last 13 years at the Whittier Daily News and 34 years with this newsgroup is like watching a hall of fame coach call it a career. On Tuesday, Roger’s Hall of fame career with our newspaper came to an end. He’s retiring, and we’re all going to miss him immensely. I knew Roger long before I got into sports writing because my father was a sportswriter and they were on the same bowling team when I was a kid, and they both played golf, which meant we all played golf. The first prep football game I covered for this paper was an Arroyo-Temple City football game for the Tribune, and Roger was covering it for the Star-News. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he saw me with a pad and pencil, and the first words that came out of his mouth, “You sure you want to do this kid?” Over the years I learned so much from him, his integrity and tireless work ethic the admiring qualities I will remember the most.. How does a guy get to work at 7 a.m., and finish by covering a game at night? “Because it beats working for a living,” is how Roger explained it, and those words the reason why I will never complain about what I do. He was and always will be an example for all of us to follow, but as Roger explained when he left on Tuesday, it’s time for him to enjoy a game without having to write about it, without the pressure of deadline, and start that next phase of his life. I can’t say enough how much we’re going to miss him, how much I’m going to miss his voice first thing in the morning, but he left when he was ready, on his own terms, and how many of us would love to say that? At the same time, I wold like to congratulate Andrew Campa, who worked with me at the Star-News and with Roger the past three years. Campa has been promoted to prep editor in Whittier and will do a fantastic job. He couldn’t of had a better mentor.
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.”