Professor's New Book Chronicles Iconic Sports Writer

July 15, 2012

Professor's New Book Chronicles Iconic Sports Writer


VALDOSTA -- While contemplating topics for his dissertation in graduate school, Assistant Professor Ted Geltner sought to tackle a piece of journalism history that no one had explored. A big fan of the late sports writer, Jim Murray, Geltner chose to study his life and career. What began as a class project has led to Geltner’s recently published book, Last King of the Sports Page: The Life and Career of Jim Murray.

The book, released July 9, chronicles Murray’s career in American sports and journalism. It includes personal archives and interviews with several famous athletes such as Yogi Berra and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It also showcases two of Murray’s most famous columns.

As part of his two-year research for the book, Geltner interviewed Murray’s widow, Linda Murray, in 2009 and again in 2010. He also browsed through a collection of the sports writer’s papers dating back to the 1940s.

“I had the opportunity to interview some of his friends and other writers he worked with,” said Geltner. “I knew a lot about Jim Murray because he was a famous sports writer and columnist. However, I got to learn some interesting things about what he did before that. He actually covered Hollywood prior to becoming a sports journalist, interviewing stars like John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart and Marlon Brando. He also reported on some famous crimes before he got into sports writing.”

Jim Murray’s work has been published in more than 200 newspapers and includes more than 10,000 columns in the Los Angeles Times, where he worked from 1961 until his death in 1998. During his lifetime, Murray wrote for Sports Illustrated and Time magazine, and was also a reporter for the Los Angeles Examiner, The Hartford Times and the New Haven Register.

Murray is one of four writers to ever receive the Pulitzer Prize for sports coverage. He was also named Sports Writer of the Year 14 times during his career.

Last King of the Sports Page: The Life and Career of Jim Murray can be found at Barnes and Noble, or the University of Missouri Press website ( A portion of the proceeds from the book go to the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, which awards scholarships to aspiring sports journalists. Geltner noted that VSU is an active member of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation.

Geltner expressed special appreciation to VSU for awarding him a grant to fund his research for the book.

Geltner teaches several journalism courses at VSU. He is also adviser for the independent student newspaper, Spectator. Geltner’s background includes a career as a writer, editor and columnist. He has had work published in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and New York Times. Geltner holds a Ph.D from the University of Florida.

For more information about Dr. Ted Geltner, visit