Malcolm Moran edited transcript
[00:00:01.690] - Todd
Malcolm, it's so nice to talk to you again. Welcome to Press Box Access.
[00:00:06.350] - Malcolm
Thanks, Todd. It has been too long, but it's good to be here with you.
[00:00:10.590] - Todd
Well, it's a special show today, Malcolm. I've got my Tweed jacket with the elbow patches. I've got my pipe. That's a tobacco pipe, people.
[00:00:19.200] - Malcolm
I was going to say careful on what's in the pipe.
[00:00:21.690] - Todd
Well, it's a tobacco pipe. My Tweed jacket, my pipe. I'm looking very professorial because we've got the professor.
[00:00:29.650] - Malcolm
I'm glad one of us is.
[00:00:31.220] - Todd
No, you're the professor. You're the professor. Here Malcolm Moran. After 30 years at newspapers, about 15 years ago or so, you left to work in higher education, first at Penn State. And since 2013, you've been director of the Sports Capital Journalism program at IUPUI. So you've got a lot of wisdom, perspective about the business that you're in for all those years and the future of the business that you're grooming. And they're very lucky to have you as a professor.
[00:01:04.610] - Malcolm
Well, thanks. It's very rewarding work. I thought it would be. But when you experience the sense of seeing former students after they leave the nest and all the things they're doing and the way they do it, the professionalism that they bring to it, it's even more rewarding than I thought it would be.
[00:01:28.940] - Todd
Well, they're certainly lucky because for 30 years you were working at Newsday, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, we're talking big boys. This was not the Hooterville Gazette.
[00:01:43.310] - Malcolm
No, but when I was at Tuesday and I'm glad this happened because it created a perspective and an appreciation that I always carried with me. I was a part timer there for almost two years after graduation.
[00:02:04.010] - Todd
Like in 1975 or so.
[00:02:07.500] - Malcolm
Well, I graduated in 75 and then until March of 77, I was a part timer.
[00:02:13.870] - Todd
[00:02:14.690] - Malcolm
And basically people that flip burgers were looking down on me in terms of compensation. But I was the happiest guy in the room because I knew News Day was at least a top five section in the country there and maybe top one or two. I knew just because of the people that were surrounding me and just the kindness they showed to me. They didn't talk to me like I was a part time 21 year old. They talked to me like I was a peer, which I was not in terms of professional achievement. And I can remember one day walking into the office just to pick up a check note to students, Google the act of picking up a check. But no but seriously, I came into the office and here's Bill Mack and Dan Locke, who unfortunately are no longer with us and they are in this animated conversation about a semicolon. One of them was writing a story and had the other one come over. And they are going back and forth about whether there should be a semicolon in a particular place and why or why not?
[00:03:46.630] - Todd
Who won the argument?
[00:03:48.570] - Malcolm
I don't remember, because it went on for so long. It was good nature, but nobody was giving ground. And I remember standing there feeling like I was in the front row at the US Open tennis. I'm just looking back and forth as they're carrying on this. It wasn't an argument, but it was a spirited conversation. And I remember thinking at that moment, there are people paying big money to go to the graduate school at Columbia that don't have access to this right hands on experience, and that was what was such a gift.
[00:06:37.320] - Todd
So you get hired full time by Newsday in 1977. You're a couple of years out of Fordham where you graduated from, and you're doing a little bit of everything right. You're doing high schools, you're doing some College, you're doing some pros. And I think you were even covering some of the New York Yankees of those late 70s. Right. You're around the ballpark some, yes.
[00:06:58.350] - Malcolm
I would fill in on the occasional road trip. I would be an extra guy, a Sidebar guy for certain home games.
[00:07:07.770] - Todd
And this is the late 70s. We're talking George Steinbrenner the owner, Billy Martin, the manager, the Bronx Zoo.
[00:07:14.610] - Malcolm
It was the Bronx Zoo era.
[00:07:16.140] - Todd
Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, all these characters. For a young sportswriter who grew up in New York, what kind of indoctrination was that for you to be around the Bronx Zoo?
[00:07:27.630] - Malcolm
It was terrorizing, really, because I knew, like when I was on a road trip and I was by myself, I'm competing with people on that beat that had been on the beat almost as long as I was alive. And every day when you would go to the ballpark, you knew that there was a very good chance that today's game might become the last priority of what you're going to be reporting and writing about today or tonight.
[00:08:06.060] - Todd
Because somebody's going to do something. Somebody's going to say something who knows, right?
[00:08:10.650] - Malcolm
Something's going to happen. Now, in hindsight, the thing that did make it a lot more fun than it felt at the time was the excess was so good. Like you would travel with the ball club. You would fly on the same flight, whether it was charter or commercial. You would ride the bus from the airport to the hotel or from the hotel to the ballpark and you would hear when Fred Stanley, nicknamed Chicken, would carry a Boombox on the bus and take this job and shove it by Johnny Paycheck. And they're all laughing in the back of the bus. You had access to that. Or when Catfish Hunter, God rest his soul, and Lou Panela would go back and forth relentlessly, which later on, when Catfish became seriously ill and passed away, I knew because of those experiences when I was assigned to write about it, the first person I needed was Lou, right? Because this would hit him. I mean, it hit a lot of people hard, but it would hit him even harder. But there was one ride, there was a rain out on the 4 July at Fenway, and they're going to be chartering from Boston to Dallas.
[00:09:43.560] - Malcolm
They're going to be playing the Rangers tomorrow night. And the year before, Hunter had a disastrous outing. It was like a third of an inning or two thirds of an inning, five runs, three home runs. You watch this and you think, this guy's got to be hurt. What's going on? Well, now it's a year later and things are under control and this bus in the rain is going through Kenmore Square and Panela is pretending to be yelling out the window, although the windows are all closed. Basically, he's alerting the population that it's safe to come out. Now Catfish Hunter is leaving town and we're not going to have these Rockets going over lands down street out into Kenmore Square, and he is not letting go of this. And everybody on the bus is laughing. And finally it gets quiet and Catfish, in his understated way, said something. For our purposes, I have to eliminate certain words here for the children that may be listening. Catfish basically suggested, well, if you're playing left field, they might as well go over the fence because you're not going to know what to do with it anyway. And so you had access to all those dynamics.
[00:11:09.590] - Todd
Never Rockets going off everywhere. You had Reggie Jackson, right? So you have Reggie and you have Billy Martin and you have George.
[00:11:15.580] - Malcolm
Just that tree of the ultimate combustible mix. And I learned the hard way how combustible it was when Reggie had been coming off of a suspension, a club suspension after he had been given a bunt sign the previous week and apparently was insulted that he signed a five year, two point, $93 million contract to be asked to bunt late in the game. And so when the bunt sign comes off, he continues to bundle, which the manager did not appreciate. And this was on top of the ongoing tension that had been going on between those two, really, from the time Reggie arrived.
[00:12:06.840] - Todd
Right. I think there was a day, July 24, 1978, you're at O'Hare Airport.
[00:12:13.350] - Malcolm
Well, what happened was I was a very late fill in for a colleague who had a family illness that he had to deal with on very short notice. So I get a phone call at one in the morning from the slot editor saying, Everything's okay, wake up. And he says, we need you to go to Chicago tomorrow like we've all done at one time or another, everything gets offended. I arrived in Chicago Saturday night, go to the Pole Park Sunday. Reggie is coming off of this suspension on Sunday. This is his first game back. And I remember his locker was at the end of the room in the old Kamisky Park at one end of the rectangle, and there were a dozen roses in his locker. Some admirer had sent him a dozen roses.
[00:13:17.590] - Todd
Maybe Reggie sent him to himself.
[00:13:20.230] - Malcolm
Well, there is that possibility that I did not consider at the time, but you raised a good point. So Reggie is holding court before the game and is completely unremorseful. And it was basically, okay, let's move forward, and we've got a job to do. By the way, the bottom is in the process of falling out from underneath this team. This is 78. So they had won the pennant in 76, were swept by the Reds, beat the Dodgers with Reggie in 77. He had the free home run game in game six in the Bronx. Now it's the next year, and the bottom is falling out as the end of July approaches. So he says what he says now it's getaway day. And after the game, Billy Martin is in his office and asks the writers, what did he say? And Jack Lang, longtime baseball writer, executive director of the BBWAA for many years, gets out his first edition story and says, well, if you want to see what he said, this is what I file and hands it to Billy.
[00:14:39.920] - Malcolm
Billy is sitting there reading these remarks, showing no remorse, and he's having his Postgame beer or two or twelve, and he's getting more and more agitated. Well, that was one case where I did not make the bus. I had to go in a cab to O'Hara. I was going to be traveling on the flight, but I didn't go on the bus. On the bus. Billy says to either Murray chassis. I think he said it to Murray, who was a longtime hall of Fame honored writer from the Times. Billy says to Murray, essentially, I'm not finished. I've got more to stay when we get to the airport. And Henry, Hecht from the Post spots this. And so they were I believe they were near a newsstand in the terminal. And that's when Billy characterized Reggie and George on the record by saying the two of them deserve each other. One's a born liar and the other is convicted, the convicted reference being a reference to the fact that Steinbrenner had been suspended for being convicted for an illegal campaign contribution to the Nixon campaign. So I know that when I make the flight and I know something is going on.
[00:16:11.980] - Todd
Yeah. You just got to pick your stomach, right? You just know it.
[00:16:14.790] - Malcolm
Yes. And so we get to the Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City. I get to my room, I immediately start making phone calls. I actually found out what room Billy was staying in. Knock on the door. And I'm just saying, look, I'm new here. My hope is I'm just trying to get caught up. I'm not trying to win a poet, sir. I'm trying to survive.
[00:16:41.650] - Todd
I'm trying not to get fired.
[00:16:43.790] - Malcolm
And apparently the coach, he was not there because the coaches got him out of there. And so I've got nothing other than a very average game story that has nothing to do with the news of the day. And I remember fastening the deadbolt on the hotel room door, thinking, this is like that nightmare that I presume we've all had at one time or another where you're about to take a final exam and you have no idea what the subject matter is. I remember thinking I am now living that nightmare because I know I missed something. And so about 07:00 a.m. The next day, I got a phone call from the editor saying, okay, what happened? And I said, well, because obviously in those days you did not learn these things instantaneously. If a situation like that had evolved now, it would be tweeted in 10 seconds, and I would have been able to play catch up to some degree Sunday night. So the editor told me what the Times and the Post had reported. And I remember later that day I had a very preliminary lunch conversation with an assistant editor at the time. Several weeks ago, I had sent them something just for the sake of sending them something.
[00:18:19.610] - Malcolm
And probably more than anything else, just as a courtesy, a very kind assistant editor named Harold Clawson took me to lunch, and it was just kind of a get to know you thing. And he was extremely generous and kind to me. And so I'm holding out hope that maybe one day, who knows, maybe that could work out right. I remember sitting on the bed in my room at the Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City looking out the window and thinking, I'm done. I'm done. I'm lucky I have this job. But I was just beaten on the biggest story, on the biggest beat in our town, and I was beaten as cleanly as you can be, beaten fair and square. And I'm done.
[00:19:10.750] - Todd
But you weren't done, Malcolm. You weren't.
[00:19:12.900] - Malcolm
But I wasn't done. Well, and that's the bizarre thing and part of the reason for that. And I didn't realize this until a long time later. But apparently when my name eventually came up in conversation there, Murray explained the circumstances of why I didn't have it and how it worked out both in terms of logistics and the fact that I had been thrown into that not at the 11th hour, but literally getting a phone call at one in the morning that was able to contribute to giving me a chance. And so that was July 24 that he said that. And so a little over four months later, I'm in Abrosenfeld's office on the third floor of the Times, the old Times building, and he's leaning forward and extending his hand and offering me a job at the time.
[00:20:11.270] - Todd
And you weren't on like you couldn't make this up 19 years at The New York Times. You went on to work. I mean, think about it. You take that lesson that you learned as a young reporter, and I think that probably fuels you in many ways going forward, right?
[00:20:27.390] - Malcolm
Yes. Or without question. And it reinforced things that I'm teaching now about the importance of relationships, which is something that has become so undervalued in this era of immediacy and texting and all that texting is fine as long as there's a foundation of a relationship there and the importance of earning trust. Why would people tell you things that are sensitive or controversial, especially if it might be embarrassing to them?
[00:21:05.100] - Todd
[00:21:05.540] - Malcolm
If they don't trust you?
[00:21:07.740] - Malcolm
So, yes, as difficult as that experience was, I couldn't begin to calculate what a great learning experience that was.
[00:21:17.330] - Todd
Well, you certainly put that learning into practice, and people learn to trust you. I mean, you went on to a career that included like 40 Final Fours, eleven Super Bowls, 16 World Series, four Olympics, more than 30 major bowl games on and on and on. And after 19 years at The Times, you go on to Chicago Tribune and the USA Today. You went from being around those Yankees to there was also a stretch where you spend a lot of time around the Yankees of College football, and that's Notre Dame,
What do you remember about being around Lou? The character of Lou Holds?
[00:28:54.230] - Malcolm
Well, I had a different perspective because when I was a part timer at Newsday, Liu was the coach of the jets. And every now and then I would be sent over to Hofstra, where they trained, which was maybe a mile or two from the old News Day offices in Garden City. And so I was around him, and there was a game in Denver where they blew a lead and lost, and the owner had a heart attack.
[00:29:30.780] - Todd
[00:29:35.070] - Malcolm
It'S the day after the game, and I'm by myself with Lou because the Beat writers haven't gotten back yet. And the normal availability period is such and such a time. And Newsday sends this part time just to cover us. And it's me and Lou. He didn't have to talk to me. I'm a 22 year old nobody that he could easily have blown off. I'll wait until the Beat writers get back, and he's basically pouring his heart out to me, blaming himself for the owner having a heart attack. So that was one moment that I had access to. But still, his humor. Just all the things that became nationally famous were on display with the jets. But nobody was paying very much attention outside of New York because the jets weren't very good. And the last vestiges of that Super Bowl group, including Namath, were kind of on their last legs. And he wound up quitting before the end of the regular season.
[00:30:46.090] - Malcolm
So now he gets the Notre Dame job. And what I learned eventually, and this shows you the wisdom of Roger Valdisari and the wisdom at the time in the Notre Dame leadership to follow Roger's instincts and lead. And that was one of the first things that happened was that Lou had dinner with Roger and Father Joyce, who at the time was Father Ted Hessberg's number two. And the way it was explained to me much later was that what they appealed to Lou was like all that funny stuff that you used to tell Johnny Carson, why don't we just put it aside for a little while? Why don't we get this thing up and running? I think essentially what I was told that he was told was that those jokes are going to be a lot funnier if you're nine and up.
[00:31:50.390] - Todd
Right. Nobody wants a clown show when you're losing. Right.
[00:31:54.100] - Malcolm
And he listened to them, unlike future coaches that did not necessarily listen to similar advice, even if it was sought out. So now I'm around him in this new place, and it's like, what did they do to Lou? He was so muted at the very beginning. You saw little peaks of it. But it was not the same full blast routine that we would get a little bit later on. And it was a very wise strategy. And two years later, they're beating Miami at home, beating SC in the Colosseum and going on to win the Fiesta ball.
[00:33:07.570] - Todd
Is that when you started seeing more of the loo that we all came to know?
[00:33:12.190] - Malcolm
Yes. And the thing that should be added is that a lot of people made a lot of money off of Lou Holtz because all of a sudden the events surrounding the game, the Pep rally on Friday night, the rubber chicken luncheon on Friday afternoon became must viewing. And so all these hotels in what I eventually started calling the Greater Michael, aka Metroplex, started imposing two night minimums. I don't remember ever having a two night minimum for a Notre Dame football weekend before Lou Holtz was the head football coach.
[00:35:01.900] - Todd
Sometimes when you get a character like that who's always quips and he's funny and you wonder almost like, is he playing a character? But I think the people who knew Lou no, they really said this guy just is actually a funny guy. He's a great coach, but he is who he is that way.
[00:35:21.190] - Malcolm
Well, at one point and I forgot the exact strategy. But there was one phase that came to be known as the Blarney offense. And I remember thinking to a certain degree, like Lou was playing the Blarney offense from a PR perspective with us, like you knew certain things you had to take with a grain of salt, right. However, there were the occasional moments when he would let you in. And one of them was after they beat West Virginia and it's in the post game press conference. And there was this long soliloquy in which he basically said, I never thought anything like this would happen to me. And it wasn't his after dinner speech routine about the skinny kid from Liverpool, Ohio that grew up with the list and people made fun. It was a genuine admission after the fact. And then there was this long pause and it was one of those frustrating instances where it's screaming for a poignant followup question that isn't coming. And somebody asked him about next year, which had nothing to do with this really emotional moment that had just taken place redirected. And immediately it was like somebody had flipped a switch.
[00:37:01.990] - Malcolm
And he said, well, next year we're going to be losing all these players and we're not going to be very good. And there was this uproarious laughter because in that period of three to 5 seconds, you went from this really revealing admission to the old poor mouthing routine because he was getting ready for next year already he knew how to play that role for certain, right?
[00:37:27.290] - Malcolm
But having said that, and this is one of the things that I did learn from being around him, that when he would get up at the Tuesday press conference and talk about worrying about Rice, he was at a point in the week, the way he worked, that he's looking at all the things that could possibly go wrong that he had to address. And it was very possible that he saw something in a film of something that Rice did on special teams that made him say this could be a problem that could get them back in this game. I think a lot of what came to be known as poor mouth, and I'm not saying that it didn't exist at all, but I think a certain percentage of it was rooted in truth. That that's just the way he was thinking at that part of the week conference was he got ready that way. To me, the ultimate evidence of that was the Thursday night before the Florida State came in 93, one versus two.
[00:40:38.020] - Malcolm
And the next thing you know, we're all in Lou's basement, finished basement, which includes and this really surprised me, prominent photographs of his jets experience, really, which given how it ended, I never would have when I was a big jets kid growing up, an AFL kid and a jets kid. And here's this huge picture of him and Namath on the sideline when they're playing the Giants in an exhibition game at Yankee Stadium. And a team picture. So Lou is behind the bar pouring beverages for people nice. And in a corner of the room, BYU is playing somebody on Thursday night. And at halftime, as you can imagine, the whole halftime segment is devoted to Notre Dame, Florida State. So now on the TV, here's the sound bite of Liu from Tuesday when he said something to the effect of Florida State is capable of scoring 50 points every time they take the field.
[00:42:20.730] - Malcolm
And there's not a word in his basement. And all these people all of a sudden turn from the loo on the TV to the Lou pouring Chardonnay behind the bar. And without any prompting, he says, I said they were capable of it. I didn't say they would do it. And I thought, he thinks they're going to win.
[00:42:47.330] - Todd
[00:42:48.760] - Malcolm
It was one of those rare moments of insight that hardly ever happens anymore where he let us into his head. And the reason I mentioned that is that that was the way he worked on Monday or Tuesday. He's thinking of every potential disaster, which was reflected in how we talked about the game. But by Thursday night, he's thinking, we've got a chance at this thing.
[00:43:17.120] - Todd
And he was right.
[00:43:19.130] - Malcolm
And he was right, because for those of us that had started the week in Tallahassee and the Florida State guys are making Rock Newtony jokes. And I remember thinking to myself as I was traveling from Tallahassee to South Bend, by all appearances, Florida State is the better team. And it could be that they might just run past these guys, but they're going to get hit in the mouth at some point. And I don't know if they realize that that was my takeaway from being there at the start of the week. What's going to happen if they get hit in the mouth like that old Mike Tyson thing? Everybody has a plan until he got hitting them out. As it turned out, that became part of the way the game played.
[00:44:16.040] - Todd
I actually covered that game for the Cincinnati Post, and that's my memory of the game that Notre Dame established, that, no, we're not going anywhere today. We're going to fight. Well, Lou Holtz was certainly a character in College football and you're around a lot of them covering more than 30 major bowl games. But there are also a lot of characters in College basketball. And I know that's such a passionate love of yours. College Hoops 2019, you became the executive director of the United States Basketball Writers Association. You're enshrined in the US Basketball Riders Association Hall of Fame. You've received a Kurt Gowdy print Media award on Naysmith Basketball Hall of Fame. [00:54:02.640] - Todd
So you had this love for College basketball, growing up and getting into the business, and then beginning in 1000 979, you cover your first Final Four. Quite a good one, by the way. Bird Magic, not bad. And you've covered 40, I think. Right, 40 fine and force.
[00:54:20.800] - Malcolm
Well, in the later years, it's serving basically as an editor.
[00:54:28.010] - Todd
[00:54:28.570] - Malcolm
So you've been to supervising last spring was 40.
[00:54:34.480] - Todd
You saw that event blow up in the 1980s and the 90s.
[00:57:24.560] - Todd
So there were so many iconic moments back in those days when you think about it, Keith Smart in the jumper, Lorenzo Charles, Chris Webber's timeout, Duke, Kentucky, UNLV. Duke. As a reporter, when you think about all those events that you were at, what comes to mind first and why?
[00:57:43.750] - Malcolm
Well, part of this would be my own experience, but part of it would be that the impact nationally, the sequence of games in 81 on the first Saturday of the tournament, when you had a staggered series of lightning in a bottle moments, one of them being number one, DePaul losing to St. Joe's at Dayton, which was a moment that we both observed in person. But you had other games as well. You had the US read 40 or 50 footer and there was another game. And the fact that the technology had evolved to that point, that allowed NBC to cut from one moment to the next, and you had this succession of bolts of lightning that clearly was a series of moments that took the national interest in that tournament to a new level.
[00:58:50.070] - Todd
It was almost like that was the first instance of Twitter. You were actually consuming something as it was happening, which up to that point, you watched one game pretty much right. You watch one sporting event at a time, and here they are jumping two things as they're unfolding, and that live action just seemed to add the excitement to it for everybody.
[00:59:11.990] - Malcolm
And the thing that in hindsight makes it even more remarkable is that when you think back, once CBS had the rights to the tournament starting in 82, there was an extended period of time in which there was a lot of frustration because CBS had a hard time with those look in type moments. I know Tim Leyden has written about this, and I believe others have, too. There were a lot of technical Hoops that had to be jumped through for the network to be able to execute that. And the fact that it happened in NBC's last year. And I think CBS has become the rights to the tournament for so long that you've got multiple generations of College students that just associate this tournament with CBS. And. Rightly so. But when you look back at all the things that NBC did to grow that tournament, including moving the Championship game to prime time Monday night in 73, which was only two and a half years after the introduction of Monday Night Football. That was very early in the period when network executives were beginning to believe that maybe there's an audience for prime time sporting events. And NBC's commitment to the NCAA tournament in 73, the first Championship game on Monday night was an important step in that direction.
[01:00:52.360] - Todd
All right. Well, give us a moment from your Final Fours that you are attending in person, or any tournament moment, for that matter, that just jumps out at you for being able to be there to witness it.
[01:01:10.170] - Malcolm
Well, not just the play itself, but the and it was very similar to the jail and SUG shot in the semifinal that put Gonzaga past UCLA, where as the night went along and it became more and more clear that we were all watching the game being played at an insanely high level and that this was leading to something that was going to be memorable, we didn't know what it was. And then that evening culminating in that moment, and the thing that I remember that began to reinforce it. You know how sometimes if you're fortunate enough and you're observing a moment like that on deadline where you're just trying to execute the things you need to survive and do your job right, you're believing, and it doesn't quite hit you until a little bit later. And a little bit later for me was at about 02:00 A.m. When a bunch of us had gathered in the hospitality room of the hotel in Broad Street in Philadelphia, and it was this long rectangular space, and the refreshments were at one end and the TVs were at the other end. And I remember when the 02:00 A.m. Sports center came on, there were people that were sprinting from the refreshment end of the hospitality room to the TV end of the hospitality room because they didn't want to miss a second of the highlights of this game in this moment.
[01:03:00.260] - Todd
Well, sports riders running away from beer. I mean, think about it.
[01:03:03.830] - Malcolm
Yes. Including some people that I had never seen run before, frankly. Right. So that was one of those moments. Or, for instance, this isn't a tournament, but it's another one of those Bolt enlightening moments late Sunday afternoon in the dining room behind the press box at Dodger Stadium, which was becoming an auxiliary workroom. And we're setting up and people are just chatting and Vince Gully just Parenthetically mentions the Gibson home run. It's got to be one of the great moments in the history of the World Series. And just hearing Vince Gully articulate this matter of fact at like three or four in the afternoon the next day, it's like, yeah, that was one of the great moments in the history of the World Series. Even though the Dodgers held serve right, the home team won game one. But hearing then matter of fact say that helped frame my thinking. Just because there is this delayed response in our collective understanding of where what we just saw, whether it was a couple of hours ago or whether it was last night, how it fits into the history of what we're covering.
[01:04:32.530] - Todd
So you were there for Gibson's homer to beat the A's off Ekersley at the Series. You're there for Leightner's Shot, where Duke beats Kentucky in the 92 East Regional final, perhaps the greatest College game ever. When you think about having 30 years of covering that type of stuff, do you ever just sit down and think, what kind of life was that?
[01:04:55.570] - Malcolm
Well, and to be lucky enough to have the chance to be in a place where a lot of people are going to be able to see what I do and a place that has the resources to send me to things like that. So to benefit from the resources that the New York Times had so that I would have a chance to contribute to something like that and go to those events and be around enough that initiative could be rewarded, for instance. And I was thinking about this because the Rams were just in the Super Bowl. The last time the Los Angeles Rams were in a Super Bowl, the game was in Pasadena. I was already on the West Coast, so they keep me there.
[01:06:29.260] - Todd
This is January 1980.
[01:06:31.480] - Malcolm
1980, which is 42 years ago, and there were two out of town people keeping track of the Rams that week.
[01:06:42.030] - Todd
[01:06:44.150] - Malcolm
Me and Michael Harrah from Detroit. Two were two out of town people. And now where that comes in handy is that I was assigned to do a story that was going to be there were going to be twin features in the Monday paper at the start of Super Bowl week. So next week's, Monday paper. And the concept was profiles of the two most influential players, the two most important leaders in this game. Clearly, for the Rams, it's Jack Youngblood who was the hall of Fame. He eventually became a hall of Fame defensive line.
[01:07:28.460] - Todd
Wasn't he playing on a broken leg, too?
[01:07:30.670] - Malcolm
Yes, and you're way ahead of me. The complicating factor was that he had a fracture in a leg he intended to play, and he was extremely sensitive about the way he was being portrayed. It bothered him that he was being viewed as this reckless guy who's going to play on a broken leg.
[01:07:57.490] - Todd
[01:07:58.380] - Malcolm
And so during the daily availability, there's a small group, two out of towners. I'm one of them, and he doesn't want to talk about it. Well, this is a problem because this is the most important aspect of this story. And for totally understandable reasons, he doesn't want to talk about it. So at the end of the day, this is when the Rams were in the process of moving to Anaheim. And so the Rams complex was a former elementary school. The only reason I can tell you that the founder of the Girl Scouts was Juliet Lowe is because the Los Angeles Rams were set up at the Juliet Low Elementary School in Anaheim. And so at the end of the day, as the sun is going down, it's around 05:00, it's a little bit chilly. And I am waiting in the parking lot for Jack Youngblood to come out so that I can make my pitch. And the term elevator pitch had not been part of the public lingo, but essentially that's what it was. I remember seeing him emerge and thinking, you got about 15 seconds. And I went up to him, I introduced myself, and I said, I work for the New York Times.
I've been assigned this profile about you because you're the most important leader on this team. And I understand why you're reluctant to talk about your situation, but it's a really important part of your situation. And I was just wondering if you might have a few minutes to talk about it. And I completely understand your reluctance. And to my great surprise, he said, what do you need, really? And we stood behind his pickup in the parking lot of this former elementary school. There's nobody else around. And he basically described how the doctors had advised him that there was no risk of additional damage. It was a question of how much pain he could tolerate. And he wanted to give it a try. And he wasn't being reckless. He wasn't doing anything that he felt would put him in jeopardy. He wanted to give it a try. And then he started getting fidgety after about ten minutes, 15 minutes. And I figured, well, he's going to cut this off and I'm better off than I was ten minutes ago. And he turns toward the back of his pickup and he says, you want a beer? And he had this cooler in the back of the pickup with beer on ice.
And I said, okay. And I didn't have any of it until we were done. But at this point, I certainly don't want to be antisocial. And so he finished the conversation and I thanked him. And that's how my initiative was rewarded. And that's something I worry about for this generation because it's almost impossible for that kind of initiative to be rewarded in that kind of way Well.
I was going to say, I think the lesson of that great story is that you just have to be there. You have to be there. You have to try to find a way to get to somewhere that you think you might not be able to be because you just never know.
Well, and Gay Tilly Sister refer to it as the art of hanging out.
To gain the trust of a person to whatever extent that you could be a fly on the wall. There's one other similar thing that I can share with you. That's an example of that.
So in the aftermath of the 81 National Championship season in Indiana, following that period, Ray Tolbert was a senior. So he graduates Isaiah Thomas, in a move that was pretty unusual at the time, leaves after a sophomore year to go into the NBA draft. And then that summer, Landon Turner, who was an absolutely essential part of that team down the stretch and in the tournament, was in a tragic auto accident on his way to King's Island and was paralyzed.
So before the start of the next season, I suggested to Arthur Pinkus, who was the editor of the Sunday section or Monday section, excuse me, to try to do a story about what had happened to this group so soon after winning a National Championship. So I make my appointment for my audience with Bob Knight. And it was at 08:00 in the morning. That was when he was available. So, like a lot of us, that's not a time I would have picked. Most sports writers are not particularly strong morning people. But, hey, that's okay. If he's available, I'm there. So I'm sitting in the outer office at about quarter to eight. He comes in and takes a look at me and says, Am I supposed to talk to you? And I said, Well, I hope so. And he says, okay, just a minute. And he goes into his office and he takes care of a couple of things. I go in. I ask him a couple of preliminary questions about this theme. And he leans back in his chair and I remember him saying, you know the trouble with you guys? Now I am immediately put off because I'm not trying to be one of you guys.
I'm trying to develop something that's me, right. So the trouble with you guys is that you're all doing the same story, and it's all woe as me. Poor Indiana. This, poor Indiana that. And I politely interrupted because I'm not pleased that he's categorizing me with kind of this trivial approach. And I said, no, that's not why I'm here. I'm here to do a story about a group that achieved at an elite level together. It happens to be a basketball team. And after this elite level achievement, all these different things have happened, some of them very good, some of them very bad, to put the people in that group in a very different place. That's why I'm here. And that's the story that I'm here to do. And at that moment, I figured if he kicks me out, he kicks me out. From that moment on, he could not have been more kind. And so in the course of our conversation, he mentioned that that afternoon he was going to be speaking to a group of trial lawyers in Indianapolis. And so as we're wrapping up, I was in with him for close to an hour.
And as we're wrapping up, I said, by the way, is there any chance that I could just go listen to you speak to that group this afternoon? He said, Why would you want to do that? And I said, just out of curiosity, I mean, I know what you say when you talk to us, but I have no idea what kind of things you'd be talking about when you talk to a group like that. And he said, well, let me think about it. Call the Sid office. Let me think about it. So that afternoon, I called the office, and Tom Miller, who I think was still there at the time, says, Coach says it's okay, and he wants you to meet him at the office. He'll give you a ride. And I said, well, that's very kind, but really, that's not necessary. I mean, I can drive myself. He said, no. Coach said, Meet him here. He'll give you a ride. So now he's giving me a ride. And he's doing 80 going up 37 from Bloomington to Indianapolis. And I'm clinging to the seat, wondering if he has considered the fact that there could be Purdue graduates that are state troopers.
But he said before, when we get into town, he said, I got to stop to make okay. And before he goes to the Hyatt, which is where this event was, he goes to Methodist Hospital, and I'm walking with them. We go in the elevator, we go off the floor where the sign says, I see you. We walk right past the nurse's station, and he walks me into Landon Turner's hospital room.
And this is the part that I know was not an accident and that I'll always be grateful for. He introduced me by name, but not affiliation. He just said, hey, Landon, say hello to Malcolm Moran. Not New York Times because he had to know he was letting me be a fly on the wall. And he had to know that if he said, New York Times, Landon's going to be wondering what's going on and the authenticity of the moment is gone. And he let me watch the by play between him and Ernie Klein, who was his high school coach at Arsenal Tech in Indianapolis for about a half an hour.
And they're laughing. Landon had started to grow a mustache, which obviously was a violation of team rules and nights saying, you were going to test me now, weren't you? They're laughing. And then he says, I'll see you next week, and we leave.
Now, he didn't have to do that.
I don't know what it was that I did. Maybe there was something about the sincerity or the conviction that I showed when he put me on the spot. I don't know.
Yes, you challenged him. You stood up for yourself, right?
Well, yeah, I did, because I felt that he was trivializing what I was trying to accomplish. And I wasn't going to be rude, but I was going to hold my ground.
Well, I think he respected the fact that you did stand up for yourself and you separated yourself from being just generalized.
And he provided access to a moment that here we are more than 40 years later, and it's still a memorable thing out of all the things I've done.
Wow. What a wonderful story.
It was the first thing that I did that got into an anthology. The Sporting News in those days picked up the best sports stories model that had gone back to the 40s, I think, and that was the first thing I did that got into that collection. And it wouldn't have if not for that ending.
I think it's just a great example of you being there, which is a great lesson for all journalists, young journalists especially. And I know in my own career you were always there for me. There were times when I had questions. I sought advice from people such as yourself. And you're always there and you're always there for all journalists. You did so many things behind the scenes and still do for writers and their organizations and things about access, standing up for the rights of journalists that I know so many people respect you for that over the years. And that's why I truly say that the students that you're working with today are really blessed to have you teaching them because they cannot learn from a better sports journalist than Malcolm Arand.
Thanks, Todd, and thank you very much for the kind words and I always viewed it as kind of passing it on. There were a lot of people, including competitors, that did things to help me, especially early on when I'm trying to figure all this stuff out. And so that's one of the nicest things about this business. Even though there's this competition, there is to a large extent, this spirit of oneness where people help each other, whether it's a little slice of insight or something more substantial. That's one of the most rewarding things about this line of work.
It's been great, Malcolm. Thanks a lot for taking the time.