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Tributes For Roslyn Sportswriter

Stan Isaacs: A force in a new era of sports journalism 

The accolades were swift and heartfelt as journalists learned of the death of former Roslyn Heights resident Stan Isaacs, a well-known New York sportswriter for more than four decades, who died last Thursday at age 83. 

 

At the time of his passing, Isaacs was a resident of Haverford, PA, where he had moved to be near his grandchildren.

“He saw humor in things, lightness in things that very few guys did,” said Isaacs’s longtime colleague at Newsday, Steve Jacobson in an interview with that publication. 

A native of Brooklyn and a graduate of both Eastern District High School and Brooklyn College, Isaacs began his prolific career as a sports reporter for The Daily Compass and in 1954 for Newsday, where he remained until his retirement in 1992. During that time, Isaacs covered many of the seminal sporting events of the age: The legendary 1950 City College of New York team, which won both the NCAA and NIT titles that year; the 1951 pennant-winning New York Giants who overcame a 13-game deficit to catch and defeat their bitter rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers; the World Series champion 1961 New York Yankees which featured Roger Maris’s record-breaking 61 home-run season; plus the 1970 heavyweight title bout between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier and the string of Stanley Cup victories for the New York Islanders.

A

t Newsday, Isaacs covered the mighty Yankee squads of the 1950s and early ‘60s, a beat that would earn him nearly annual visits to the World Series. However, in 1962, when National League baseball came back to New York in the form of the lovable New York Mets, Isaacs covered the Mets beat. As with his fellow sportswriters, Isaacs enjoyed the daily give and take with the Mets’ always-quotable skipper, Casey Stengel.

 

In 1978, Isaacs inaugurated a column dedicated to covering sports television. While such columns have now become commonplace, Isaacs was a pioneer in this new angle on sports coverage. Isaacs was also the co-author of The Fastest Kid On The Block, a biography of Isaacs’s fellow Brooklynite, Marty Glickman. The subject was most pertinent as Glickman excelled in both competitive sports and as a sports journalist. Glickman was a track star who earned a place on the 1936 U.S. Olympic team. He also briefly played both professional football and basketball. Later, Glickman became the voice of both the New York Knicks and New York Giants. The book was published in 1999 by Syracuse University Press. 

 

Isaacs combined humor, tough questioning and a literary style that inspired the rising generation of sportswriters. He was known as a member of a cadre of young reporters, dubbed the Chipmunks for their aggressive and offbeat style of covering sporting events and personalities. During his time on Long Island, he was friends with the legendary Beat novelist, Jack Kerouac and he later claimed to have read every book by A. J. Liebling, the equally legendary boxing writer. In Roslyn, Isaacs and his wife frequented the Christopher Morley house in Roslyn Estates for literary gatherings. His prose graced The Roslyn News on certain occasions, including writing an obituary for his friend, Stan Marx, proprietor of Bookmarx Bookstore in Roslyn Heights. 

 

At the time of his passing, Isaacs’s daughter told the media of what her father considered his greatest achievements. The first was having stolen the 1955 Brooklyn Dodger world championship banner from the Dodgers new home in Los Angeles and bringing it back to Brooklyn, where it currently is housed at the Brooklyn Historical Society. The second was promoting a statue of two Dodger teammates, Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson, another dream that came to fruition as such a statue currently stands outside of the home field of the Brooklyn Cyclones in Coney Island. 

 

In retirement, Isaacs stayed busy, not just publishing the Glickman biography, but also writing a weekly website column. Other journalists such as Michael Lewis and Tony Kornheiser also sang his praises.

 

Isaacs is predeceased by his wife of 58 years, Bobbie. He is survived by three daughters and four grandchildren.