Bud Shrake: “What’s Wrong with Dallas?” — 1962

by Paula Bosse

shrake_dmn_042062-det

by Paula Bosse

The legendary sportswriter Bud Shrake, disillusioned with the state of local sports teams and fans, devoted his column one day to wondering why Dallas had so little enthusiasm for its football and baseball teams.

The idea has been expressed that the only sporting event the people of Dallas would turn out for would be a true Circus Maximus, with lions and elephants and slave girls and Clint Murchison Jr. and Lamar Hunt fighting to the death with a mace and chain. […] Dallas is not so much a poor sports town as it is an enigma.

I guess things got better.

shrake_dmn_042062(Dallas Morning News, April 20, 1962)

Edwin “Bud” Shrake was one of the greatest sportswriters to come out of DFW, an area that produced a lot of classic sportswriters (Dan Jenkins, Gary Cartwright, Blackie Sherrod, etc.). I love this picture of Shrake (on the right) with his close friend Gary Cartwright, at the DMN.

cartwright-shrake_DMN

After years at the Dallas Morning News, Shrake went to Sports Illustrated and eventually wrote one of the bestselling sports books in the history of publishing: Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book. He was also an acclaimed novelist. I HIGHLY encourage everyone to read his novel Strange Peaches, a roman a clef of sorts, set in Dallas at the time of the Kennedy assassination. It’s funny and profane, and it shows that Dallas was a hip, cool, swinging place in the early ’60s, awash in drink and drugs, hedonism and ennui. And it’s fun to figure out who’s who. GREAT book!

Here is a 6-minute clip of an interview with Shrake from 2008, a year before he died. He talks about Dallas, the DMN, Sports Illustrated, Frank Sinatra, Don Meredith, Jack Ruby, and JFK. I could listen to Bud talk for hours — and I’m not even a sports fan! It’s easy to see why he and Ann Richards were together for 17 years, and we were lucky to have Bud Shrake as the “first gentleman” of Texas (those card games in the governor’s mansion must have been … lively).

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The Bud Shrake entry on Wikipedia is here.

A review of Strange Peaches that might get you to read it is here.

The photo of Cartwright and Shrake is from a great DMN blog post on Shrake from Michael Granberry here.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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