Against a backdrop of Saturday golfers trudging past the windows at Dallas’ Brook Hollow Country Club, a group of intimate friends gathered last weekend to celebrate their memories of William Forrest (Blackie) Sherrod, who undeniably was the greatest sportswriter in the history of Texas. If  not the US. He passed away last month at the age of 96.

Hosted by the Dallas Morning News, the reception/luncheon included a Who’s Who of the sports and media worlds, such as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and football quarterback great Troy Aikman. Newsmen and broadcasters came from far and near to pay tribute.

Wife Joyce Sherrod set the celebratory tone for the day by decreeing an open mike program.  A stream of friends and former associates regaled the crowd with tales of his natural wit and  Runyonesque writing style. One speaker recalled the young reporter who was so nervous about an appointment with Sherrod, that he fell headfirst in front of him. Sherrod peered over his desk and quipped “how long have you been in the ballet?”

Although best remembered as a superstar at the News from 1985 to retirement at 2003,   he earlier gained  growing recognition as a must-read writer for Fort Worth Press and the Dallas Times-Herald. He became a tug-of-war prize between the News and Herald in their battle for survival in the 80s. News Editor Burl Osborne lured a reluctant Sherrod across downtown Dallas in 1985. He had resisted for years out of loyalty to the Herald.

It was noteworthy that the open mike participants included former colleagues from all three newspapers. As the first sportwriter to work for Blackie at the Press, I  joined  famed sports novelist Dan Jenkins and retired PR man  Jerre Todd to speak from our Fort Worth Press table. The event was organized by News sports columnist Kevin Sherrington and former DMN editor Bob Mong.

How important was Blackie Sherrod to the Dallas Morning News during its survival battle with the Times-Herald? One of the DMN executives disclosed that its circulation spiked by the tens of thousands of readers after his arrival.

–Julian Read