Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Sports Scribe Recalls 70 Years in Biz

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Sports Scribe Recalls 70 Years in Biz

Article excerpt

When Sid Dorfman started writing for the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., Franklin Roosevelt was president, the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn, and Pearl Harbor was still six years away. In 1935, the 15-year-old Dorfman was just glad to a get a job as the Depression swelled the ranks of the unemployed. Knocking on the door of the then-Morning Ledger, the high school student offered his services and got a job covering high school games at 10 cents per inch.

"It was a real break at the time," Dorfman, 85, recalls. "It wasn't difficult for a kid to get a job, because they didn't have to pay you much."

Seventy years later, Dorfman is still writing for the paper, only now as the head of Dorf Feature Services, which provides the Star-Ledger with all of its high school and Division III college sports coverage, as well as obituary and death notices. In addition, the longtime Garden State resident writes a weekly sports column.

But Dorfman's long career did not begin smoothly. The first day he showed up for work, the paper was on strike. "I walked up to the door, a guy put a picket sign in my hand and said 'we're on strike'," Dorfman relates during a phone interview from his suburban New Jersey office. "I had not worked a day in my life and I was on strike." The walkout lasted just two weeks though, ending when S.I. Newhouse bought the struggling paper that his family still owns as part of Advance's Newhouse Newspapers chain.

At the time, the Ledger was one of three Newark dailies, and the last in circulation. The dominant Newark Evening News, which closed in 1972, had most of the scoops and readers, along with The Star-Eagle, which would merge with the Ledger in 1939.

Dorfman's first assignments included covering sports at Newark's Weequahic High School, where he attended classes. After two years, he joined Metropolitan News Service, which provided local news and sports to the Ledger and other papers. "I broke in covering bicycle races [at a local park]," he says. "They also had horse racing." Among the odd sports in nearby Nutley, N.J., at the time was midget car racing, a pursuit which soon ended after one race in which a driver was decapitated after driving under a metal wire. "I saw this head roll around on the track," Dorfman recalls.

In 1938, Metropolitan's owner, H. Stuart Morrison, ran off with his secretary and the company's payroll, Dorfman said. He soon took over the operation, renamed it Dorf Feature Service, and went back into business. He was 18. "I did quite well in the early years, but papers one by one peeled off and died and I needed the Ledger as a base," recalls Dorfman, who now has 50 full-time employees, including two of his three children, working for him. …

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