"I am not a literary man. I am a man of science, and I am interested in that branch of Anthropology which deals with the history of human speech." – Jim Murray
"Show me a man who is a good loser and I'll show you a man who is playing golf with his boss." – Jim Murray
Jim Murray said that people always think sportswriters are frustrated athletes who aren't good enough to make it to the big leagues. Honest to a fault, even with himself, he knew he would never have big league stuff on the field. But he always knew he was a writer. When he showed up in Los Angeles in 1944 he was the greenest of greenhorns. Wearing a rust colored overcoat (the temperature was in the eighties), a vest, and wing-tipped shoes, he was asked by his first editor James H. Richardson, "Do you know where City Hall is?" He said no. Richardson then asked him, "Do you know where the FBI building is?" No. "Do you even know where Figueroa Street is for cryin’ out loud?" Richardson asked him hotly. No sir. "Well, can you write?" Murray replied, "Oh, Mr. Richardson, I can write like a son of a bitch!"
For nearly five decades, readers have been indebted to James Richardson – and to Frank McCulloch of the Los Angeles Times, who in 1961 sold Jim Murray the idea of writing a daily sports column, and thus began a legend.
From fairly humble beginnings in Hartford Connecticut, Murray began his career as a campus correspondent for the Hartford Times in the 1940s; joined Time magazine in 1948 and became West Coast editor for Sports Illustrated, which he helped found in 1953. Joining the Los Angeles Times staff in 1961, Murray’s distinctive style and candor won over the people of the Los Angeles area almost instantly. Though firmly grounded in spite of increasing fame, his every-man quality endeared him to every segment of society. He became one of Humphrey Bogart's drinking buddies, and played cards with the Duke himself, John Wayne. His newly found fame once even earned him the honor of taking Marilyn Monroe to dinner. When Marilyn asked him, "Do you mind if you don't take me home but I go home with a friend of mine?" Murray calmly replied, "Only if you introduce me to Joe DiMaggio first!" For more than 50 years his work as a sports reporter spilled into newspaper columns, his unique perspective giving the impression he was writing about the ballet from the usher's vantage rather than the balcony. His untouchable wit and an unmatched frankness engaged, enlightened, and sometimes even infuriated his ever growing readership, elevating Murray over time into one of the century's best sports columnists. Forever quotable and always poignant, Murray is one of only four sportswriters to win the Pulitzer Prize for general commentary. The modest Murray said after receiving the award in 1990, he thought a winner should have "to bring down government or expose major graft or give advice to prime ministers. Correctly quoting Tommy Lasorda shouldn't merit a Pulitzer Prize." Humorous and intelligent but never cynical, Murray spoke out against the demonizing impact of television and the persistent power of racism in sports and sports reporting. It was Murray who shamed the Masters into finally allowing Lee Elder to play, in 1975 – "'Wouldn't it be nice to have a black American at Augusta in something other than a coverall?", Murray wrote. In his career, he battled through personal trials that included the loss of his wife and his youngest son and the ongoing fight to retain his eyesight. Through it all, his wit, warmth, and opinions endured. Jim Murray’s legions of loyal readers remained informed and entertained – their lives better for having known him. Jim Murray passed away in Los Angeles on Aug. 16, 1998. He is survived by his wife Linda.
The following (8) lots include property from the estate of Jim Murray. These artifacts and momentos represent the life and career of an extraordinarily accomplished man. Among the most revealing and important material contained within this collection is the archive of correspondence saved by Murray from prominent figures in the fields of sports, entertainment, and politics. The content of many of these letters speaks volumes about the profound reverence and sometimes contempt that his writing conjured.
All these items come directly from Linda McCoy-Murray and each lot will include her signed Letter of Authenticity. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these items will go to the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation for which she serves as President.
Read Press Release about this collection >>