Thursday, January 14, 2010

RIP: Art Rust Jr.

From the New York Times:
Art Rust Jr., a pioneering figure in New York radio sports talk shows and a sports historian whose books focused on the interplay of race and athletics, died Tuesday at a hospital in Manhattan. He was 82.

The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, said his daughter, Suzanne Rust.

In the 1980s, Mr. Rust became a familiar voice with his “Sports-talk” show on WABC Radio.

“Every time I’d go out in the street, somebody would shake my hand to get an autograph,” he told in 2003.

Steve Malzberg, Mr. Rust’s producer, said “there was a warmth” to Mr. Rust’s broadcasts.

“It was feeling like you knew Arthur George Rust Jr. and he was in your home,” he said.

Mr. Rust reveled in his love of sports history. He was also known for his “Rustisms.” A left-hander was a “portsider” and home plate was the “dish.”

He called Yankee Stadium “the big ball orchard in the South Bronx.”

Back in the 1930s, Mr. Rust was a youngster living in Harlem whose hopes of playing in Yankee Stadium some day seemed more like an outlandish dream.

In his 1976 book “Get That Nigger Off the Field!,” a history of black baseball, Mr. Rust remembered how “baseball was my life.”

“At one time I wanted to be a major league ballplayer, but I was black,” he wrote.

In recalling his Harlem youth, Mr. Rust wrote about the passing of the years and the changes in the United States.

As he put it in 1976: “I lived to see blacks elected to the Hall of Fame. I lived to see Emmett Ashford, the first black umpire. I lived to see Aaron break Babe Ruth’s home-run record. I lived to see Frank Robinson become the first black manager in the major leagues. The system is breaking.

“However,” he added, “an interesting development: My 10-year-old daughter, Suzanne, wants to know why women can’t play major league baseball.”

BeltwayBlips: vote it up!

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