Sherrod, Blackie 1919-
SHERROD, Blackie 1919-
Given name, William Forrest Sherrod; born November 9, 1919, in Belton, TX; son of Marvin (a barber) and Leola (a music teacher; maiden name, Forrest) Sherrod. Education: Howard Payne College, B.A., 1941; attended Baylor University.
Office—Dallas Morning News, 508 Young St., Dallas, TX 75202-4808. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Eakin Press, P.O. Drawer 90159, Austin, TX 78709-0159; fax: 512-288-1813.
Journalist, editor, columnist, and sportswriter. Temple Daily Telegram, Temple, TX, reporter, 1941-42 and 1946; Fort Worth Press, Fort Worth, TX, reporter, sportswriter, and sports editor, 1946-58; Dallas Times Herald, Dallas, TX, sports editor, sports columnist, and assistant managing editor, 1958-85; Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX, sports and general columnist, 1985-2003. Military service: United States Navy, 1941-45; served as a torpedo plane gunner.
Texas Headliners Club, annual award for science writing, 1969, for coverage of Apollo 11 mission; Red Smith Award for lifetime achievement; sixteen-time winner, Texas Sportswriter of the Year Award; inducted into National Sportscaster-Sportswriter Hall of Fame.
(With Darrell Royal) Darrell Royal Talks Football, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1963.
(With Freddie Steinmark) I Play to Win, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1971.
Scattershooting, Strode Publishers (Huntsville, AL), 1975.
The Blackie Sherrod Collection (sports columns), introduction by Dan Jenkins, Taylor Publishing Co. (Dallas, TX), 1988.
Blackie Sherrod at Large (columns), Eakin Press (Austin, TX), 2003.
Work frequently appeared in Best Sports Stories of the year collections throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Contributor to Our Navy magazine during World War II.
The locker room and the newsroom were equally home to sportswriter Blackie Sherrod during a career that spanned more than sixty years of writing columns—over 10,000 of them—covering minor games and major events in sports throughout Texas and the entire United States. Sherrod's career began at the Temple Daily Telegram, in Temple, Texas, where he worked as a reporter both before and after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He spent twelve years at the Fort Worth Press, from 1946 to 1958, followed by twenty-seven years at the Dallas Times Herald, then eighteen years at the Dallas Morning News, where he retired in 2003 at the age of eighty-three. But retirement did not come easily to the active, tenacious, mock-irascible Sherrod. When asked what retirement was like, he likened it to a steam bath, noted Gary Cartwright in Texas Monthly. "Once you get used to it," Sherrod said, "it's not so hot."
Deeply professional, dedicated to his craft, Sherrod "draws on a code of old-fashioned decency and professionalism that applies to athletes as well as journalists," commented Kevin Kerrane in Dictionary of Literary Biography. "Showcasing the same values, Sherrod's style is modest, even self-deprecatory," Kerrane observed. "His prose, though elegant, conveys the persona of a common man: folksy, weathered (with such identifying tags as 'old buster' and 'our aging hero'), and street-smart rather than book-smart." But there is great precision and sophistication to his style as well, Kerrane noted. "His style is also marked by precise images and fresh metaphors, guided by a reportorial style that can break a moment of sports action into a striking series of still scenes."
Part of his mission was to pass on his knowledge and sense of professionalism to another generation. While working as a writer and editor for the Fort Worth Press, Sherrod served as mentor to a "Who's Who" of storied sportswriters, including Dan Jenkins, Bud Shrake, and Gary Cartwright. "In his own tough, erudite way, he taught us to break the mold, to take chances," Cartwright wrote in Texas Monthly. "News stories had to transcend facts, stretching instead for style and analysis. He had no patience for pretense and no stomach for grandstanding, but he had a true and abiding love of language, of the intoxicating dance of words carefully selected and arranged." When Sherrod moved to the Dallas Times Herald, his students and comrades—known as "Blackie's Boys"—went with him. "Working for Blackie required wit and will," Cartwright observed. Still, for Cartwright and his peers, Sherrod's "sarcasm and his above-the-fray attitude shaped us as young writers; he made us appreciate that sportswriting, done correctly, was a noble pursuit."
The Blackie Sherrod Collection contains a selection of Sherrod's best sportswriting from twelve years in Dallas. Sherrod's "writing is consistently energetic and entertaining, with the hard edge of a no-nonsense 'good old boy' from the Southwest," commented Thomas J. Reigstad in Library Journal. The collection concentrates on college and professional football, including the Dallas Cowboys, although it also highlights Sherrod's humor and wit in writing. These attributes compliment the "perspective and insight that are the soul of a successful column," observed Douglas S. Looney in Sports Illustrated. "In this," Looney concluded, "Sherrod is topped by no one."
Similarly, Blackie Sherrod at Large includes a selection of columns from the Dallas Morning News. Library Journal reviewer Susan M. Colowick called Sherrod a "shrewd observer of personalities and events," and noted that "each piece holds up well as a standalone commentary" on the events covered and on athletics in general.
"However great the influence of Sherrod the editor, Sherrod won fans for three generations with his writing," Kerrane commented. "His range as a reporter, his storytelling skill, his evocation of character, and his writing voice—regional and yet universal—all have made an enduring mark on American sportswriting."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Cartwright, Gary, Confessions of a Washed-up Sportswriter, Texas Monthly Press (Austin, TX), 1983.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 241: American Sportswriters and Writers on Sports, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
MacCambridge, Mark, The Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated Magazine, Hyperion Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Continental, November, 1985, David Gaines, "Blackie Sherrod," pp. 42-43.
Dallas Free Press, November, 1991, Chris Thomas, "Blackie Sherrod: Sportswriter, Artist, and Part American Indian," pp. 15, 18.
Dallas Morning News, November 11, 1999, Kevin Sherrington, "Still a Prose Pro," pp. D1, D5.
Editor & Publisher, June 15, 1985, Jim Haughton, "The Richest Sportswriter in the Business," pp. 20-21.
Houston Chronicle, January 12, 2003, Mickey Herskowitz, "Retirement Claims Sherrod, But He Leaves Mark," p. 5.
Journalism Quarterly, winter, 1988, review of The Blackie Sherrod Collection, p. 1015.
Library Journal, June 1, 1988, Thomas J. Reigstad, review of The Blackie Sherrod Collection, p. 134; May 1, 2003, Susan M. Colowick, review of Blackie Sherrod at Large, pp. 130-131.
Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1981, "Sports Columnists Have Their Own Little Corner, So to Speak," pp. 1, 7-8.
Men's Journal, February, 1998, Bob Drury, "The Sportswriter's Apocalypse," pp. 69-71, 102.
Newsweek, December 26, 1983, Charles Kaiser and Tessa Namuth, "Losing the Two-Front War," pp. 51-52.
Southern Living, April, 1978, "A Philosopher in Newsprint," pp. 142, 145.
Sports Illustrated, December 24, 1984, Jerry Kirshebaum, "Traffic Stopper," p. 11; June 13, 1988, Douglas S. Looney, "Collections by Four All-Prose," review of The Blackie Sherrod Collection, p. 11.
Texas Monthly, April, 2003, Gary Cartwright, "-30-: The Very Best Columnist Ever to Grace the Pages of a Texas Newspaper Has Called It Quits—But Please Don't Tell Blackie Sherrod I Mentioned It," profile of Blackie Sherrod, pp. 58-60.
Associated Press Sports Editors Web site,http://apse.dallasnews.com/ (February, 2003), Kevin Sherrington, "Texas Legend," profile of Blackie Sherrod.