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Gary Cartwright Loses His Best Friend

And we lost one of the best damn sportswriters Texas ever knew.

Bud Shrake was one of the last of the dying breed that Scipio writes about in this post

Bud Shrake, Gary Cartwright, Blackie Sherrod, Dan Jenkins, Dan Cook, Mickey Herskowitz, Jack Gallagher, Dave Cambell and Lou Maysel.

These were my childhood heroes. These were wordsmiths who made you want to head down to the newstand on Sunday and buy every out-of-town paper they had -- even if your team lost, because you knew they would tell you everything about the game you wanted to know, and would do so in a way that made the words jump off the pages.

I went into radio-tv reporting, partly because it was the new "hip" medium, partly because I grew up in the Driskill Hotel where KTBC Radio/TV had its studios, and partly because I knew there was no way I could ever come close to the poetry and depth I saw from these gentlemen.

The sportswriting talent pool in Texas at that time rivaled the 1927 Yankees.

The Ft. Worth Press had this lineup in the sports department in the 1950's: (bottom row) Andy Anderson, Bud Shrake (top row) Jerre Todd, Blackie Sherrod, Dan Jenkins.

Cartwright was working for the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram at this time and he and Shrake became fast friends.

When I got out of school and went to work for KVUE-TV in Austin, the SWC still had its pre-season tour of all the football teams. Ten days of hitting every way station in the conference, listening to every cliche every coach would deliver, getting interviews from players -- and then getting the best education a reporter could ever get every night from the "old guard" writers who would stay up all night long having adult beverages and telling tales, some tall, some ribald.

I don't have the willpower right now to going into any of those lessons, but I will pass along one story concerning Gary Cartwright and Dandy Don Meredith.

Don Meredith once took credit for a writing award that Gary Cartwright won.

In November of 1965, the Dallas Cowboys lost a heartbreaker of a game to the World Champion Cleveland Browns in the Cotton Bowl. The Browns won 24-17 when Meredith, who engineered a couple of late touchdown drives -- also threw two interceptions in the final two minutes of the game -- one from the Cleveland one yard line.

The next day in the Dallas Morning News, Cartwright began his gameday story thusly:

Outlined against a grey November sky, the Four Horsemen rode again Sunday.

You know them: Pestilence, Death, Famine and Meredith.

He then proceeded to eviscerate Meredith over about 10 paragraphs.

It was about this time that Dandy Don began to prepare for life after football by working for WFAA-TV in the off-season. That summer he anchored their Sunday newscasts. One Sunday Meredith reads a story about Cartwright winning a statewide award for his article on the Cleveland win. He added that the honor also included $200 in prize money.

Meredith paused, smiled and added:

"Now I think that ole' Gary owes me at least half of that money, Because if I don't throw that interception from the one-yard line, he doesn't write that story."

In terms of the print media, it really was the Good Old Days.