Jim Murray (sportswriter)

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James Patrick Murray (December 29, 1919 - August 16, 1998) was an American sportswriter at the Los Angeles Times from 1961 to 1998.

Many of his achievements include winning the NSSA's Sportswriter of the Year award an astounding fourteen times (twelve of those consecutively). In 1990, he won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for his 1989 columns,[1] and the Baseball Hall of Fame awarded him the J. G. Taylor Spink Award in 1987. Cited as an influence by countless sports journalists, Murray was a fixture at the Los Angeles Times for over 30 years. After he won the Pulitzer in 1990, Murray modestly said he thought the prize winner should have had "to bring down a government or expose major graft or give advice to prime ministers. Correctly quoting Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda shouldn't merit a Pulitzer Prize."[2] He was offered $1 million to join The National Sports Daily, but declined.[3]

Prior to his tenure with the Los Angeles Times, Murray was a writer and columnist for Sports Illustrated from 1953–1961 and Time magazine from 1948-1955. He was also a reporter for the Los Angeles Examiner from 1944–1948, the New Haven (CT) Register and The Hartford Times. A native of Hartford, Connecticut, Murray graduated from that city's Trinity College in 1943.[4]

Murray was noted for his great, albeit occasionally caustic, sense of humor and ability to turn a phrase, including the following: he wrote of the Indianapolis 500 automobile race, "Gentlemen, start your coffins"; that baseball player Rickey Henderson "has a strike zone the size of Hitler's heart"; and that UCLA basketball coach John Wooden was "so square he was divisible by four".[5]

Although eventually afflicted with blindness, Murray continued covering and writing about sports as long as he was able.

Murray created The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation whose primary purpose is to raise money for journalism scholarships. Currently 28 universities participate annually in a national essay competition in which five $5,000.00 scholarships are annually awarded.[6]

In 1982, Murray was honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, who awarded him the Red Smith Award, which is America’s most prestigious sports writing honor. For his contribution to sports in Los Angeles, he was honored with a Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum "Court of Honor" plaque by the Coliseum commissioners. A Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to Murray in 2008.[7]

Jim Murray is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City.[8]


  • Jim Murray: The Autobiography (1995)

The following are collections of Jim Murray articles:

  • The Jim Murray Reader (2011)
  • Last of the Best (1998)
  • The Great Ones (1991)
  • The Jim Murray Collection (1988)
  • The Best of Jim Murray

By other authors:

  • Quotable Jim Murray: The Literary Wit, Wisdom, and Wonder of a Distinguished American Sports Columnist, by Linda McCoy-Murray (2003)


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