Friday, 4 January 2008

30 - Milt Dunnell

Updated: George Gross tribute column; Dave Perkins Star obit

Milt Dunnell, a legendary Toronto Star sports editor and columnist who awed and irked the competition for decades, died Thursday at Toronto General Hospital. He was 102.

The Star provided his eldest son, Mike Dunnell, also a retired newspaperman, ample space today to give his father a fitting sendoff.

Mike's lead sums up the Milt most press club members knew:

"There is one helleva poker game under way in heaven."

Milt, who retired in 1994 at age 87, was from a generation of sports columnists who were larger than life in the eyes of devoted readers.

Other members of that distinguished Toronto club, still here or departed, included Jim Coleman, Dick Beddoes, Scott Young, Trent Frayne and Jim Hunt.

Milt earned a lot of his loyalty and respect by practicing what he preached to columnists: "Never hit the cap I," meaning don't write about yourself.

That advice stuck to a lot of journalists who respected what Milt had to say, but as Mike notes in his loving and informative tribute to his father, "This seed of wisdom has lately fallen upon stony ground in the field of journalism."

TSF calls it I-itis. Self-absorbed print and broadcast egotists boring readers and listeners with "I this" and "I that." As Milt would say, who cares.

Milt, an Ontario-born Christmas Eve baby, wrote about sports, not himself, for the Toronto Star from 1949 until 1994. His retirement left a huge void for readers of Toronto sports columns.

Count on the Star's competition to salute Milt's impressive and prolific contribution to journalism and sports.

George Gross, the Sun's corporate sports editor and a good friend, told Canadian Press Milt was "a beacon of classic sports journalism" and "a genius amongst sportswriters."

As for poker players in the next life, Milt will indeed find a quorum amongst media greats.

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