Dan Cook passed away on Thursday, July 3rd. He was a South Texas sports icon.
Cook covered everything from the Kentucky Derby to the Super Bowl. He also covered The Game. I'm talking about the 1963 Lee-Brackenridge bi-district football game. There have been bigger games in San Antonio, but there will not be one better. You can find his writeup for this game in The Best of Dave Campbell's Texas Football 1960-1989.
I grew up reading his columns in the San Antonio Express-News and watching his nightly sportscast on San Antonio's KENS. His newscasts were the first thing my dad let me stay up past my bedtime to watch. It was only 10:30, but it might as well have been all night long because that's the way it felt to me. Bonding with my dad while watching sports is one of my best childhood memories.
It was like entering an adult world. Cook had gravitas, and you took what he said seriously. You kids might not know this, but it is actually possible to deliver sports news without thinking up 37 different nicknames for a home run or touchdown. Fuck you, ESPN. But don't mistake his professionalism for dullness. He had a quick wit.
The Express-News article linked above has the following story:
(Blackie) Sherrod said Cook always was the life of the party.
One of his favorite Cook stories came when the two were covering the Kentucky Derby one year. He said before the race, a friend of theirs approached Cook, an avid bettor, and asked him about one of his daughters. She wanted to know where he planned to send her to college.
"It all depends on who wins this race," Cook said.
That beats any jackass catchphrase.
So I called my dad the on the Fourth to see if he had heard. He was travelling so he had not. But as if compelled by the sports gods, he had started reading again the book of Cook's selected newspaper columns. It was like going back to my childhood.
There are bigger reporters than Dan Cook, but there will not be one better.