While I may not be living in Minnesota any longer, I still read the Star Tribune sports page daily online and was thrilled to learn one of the long-time writers there, Patrick Reusse has written a memoir. Of course I had to get a copy and it was as good as I had hoped. Here is my review of his memoir.
Title/Author: “Tales from the Minnesota Sports Beat: A Lifetime on Deadline” by Patrick Reusse with Chip Scroggins
Rating: 5 of 5 stars (excellent)
Review: Many cities have a sports broadcaster or sportswriter who over the years become very familiar to the fans of that city. Often they are recognized when one states just either their first or last name. In the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Patrick Reusse is one of those sports writers as one just needs to say “Reusse!” and fans will know not only who that is but will have both an opinion and a memory or two about him. Reusse, who has been a sportswriter in Minnesota since 1965, teams up with Chip Scroggins to produce this excellent memoir.
No matter which sport or team is the favorite of a Minnesota sports fan (including this reviewer), Reusse will have seen them, written about them and includes them in this book. He does share his preferences on which sports he prefers to write about (baseball and golf are his favorites), which sports he admits to covering but not knowing much about it (hockey and figure skating) and a sport that he initially knew nothing about but became a big fan (volleyball). He writes about these in the same style in which he has written his column for many years – some are flattering, some are biting and some are humorous but all are clearly written from the heart.
As one would expect, he has plenty of stories with his interactions with not only some of the best athletes around but also with other sportswriters and other notable personalities. Because some of the stories come from a different time, he does note that when some of them took place, certain comments and actions would not be likely to be taken well today. While the stories with athletes are great and some brought back some nice memories of sports events, the best ones were about other journalists. His tales of pranks played on another long time Minnesota sports writer, Sid Hartman, left me in stitches.
Reusse not only worked for the newspapers in both cities, but he was also a radio personality for many years. He teamed up with another sportswriter, Joe Soucheray, for a Monday night sports talk show (originally on Sunday night) that took on a personality of its own, attracted many regular callers and was a can’t miss event that had the ears of many Twin Cities residents. In this chapter, Reusse is at his most humble self, giving all the credit to Soucheray for the success of the show. As one who was a regular listener before leaving the area, I can state that it took both to make that show as good as it was. Something in the book that Reusse states that seems amazing is that neither of them came in with a specific topic in mind to discuss – they simply let the callers drive the program. Whatever they did, it certainly worked.
Of course, there are sports stories in the book. Whether it was the good times, such as the two World Series titles for the Twins in 1987 and 1991, the bad times such as the Vikings’ loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the 1999 NFC Championship (he came up with the name of the famous “Weeping Blondes” photo from that game) or the background stories of various teams, such as the football team for the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the 1960’s, Reusse covers it all. If there is something the reader remembers about Minnesota sports in the last 55 or so years, chances are Reusse has written about it or was there in some manner. Minnesota sports fans, whether they are fans of Reusse or or think he’s just a curmudgeon, should pick up this book as it is sure to be one that will contain at least some material that will be pleasing to them.
I wish to thank Minnesota Historical Society Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.