Taylor on Coleman: He was one of a kind

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 6:56 AM ET

Jim Coleman was a dapper dresser, a gregarious guy and Canada's best sports writer of the 20th century.

"His bad stuff was pretty good and his good stuff was out of this world," said Jim Taylor, who compiled The Best of Jim Coleman: Fifty Years of Canadian Sport from the Man Who Saw It All.

Winnipeg-born Coleman chronicled the golden age of boxing, hockey, Canadian football and horse racing. The Order of Canada recipient and Canadian sports hall of famer was 89 when he died in 2001 of heart failure while recovering from a broken hip. He was the last of the typewriters-and-cigars era.

Taylor found boxes of Coleman's newspaper columns spanning six decades and produced the ultimate tribute with the blessing of Coleman's widow Maggie and the backing of businessmen Gerry Strongman and Peter Kains and Sunshine Coast's Harbour Publishing.

"I don't know whether it will sell; God's truth, I don't care," Taylor told 24 hours. "I want it in libraries, I want it in journalism schools. I want it out there."

Taylor, a veteran sports columnist and biographer of Wayne Gretzky, Rick Hansen and Jim Young, is part of 24 hours' team covering Grey Cup 2005. He grew up reading Coleman and later became a close friend.

"When I first started writing a column, I didn't know whether I was going to be any good or not, so I figured I'd staple myself to the coattails of the guy who was."

When they covered 1972's Canada vs. Soviet Union hockey series, Taylor said Coleman shouted into the sprinkler above his bed in a Moscow hotel room after Canada won the final match.

"He's there in his coat and tie and, because we knew the room was bugged, going 'how do you like those apples, Ivan?'"


Videos

Photos