Welcome to the latest edition of the Fury Files, currently ranked 25th in Q&A RPI. If you have time to spare or want to abuse your printer privileges at work, check out previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Michael Kruse, Chris Jones, Chris Ballard, Roland Lazenby and Will Leitch.
This week’s guest is Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse, a Minnesota newspaper legend and one of the best columnists in the country. I grew up reading Reusse’s stories and hearing classic stories about Reusse — my parents are of similar age and are also from Fulda, the small town in southwest Minnesota made somewhat famous in countless Reusse columns over the years.
Reusse got his start in newspapers just after high school, when he landed a job as a copy boy at the old Minneapolis Morning Tribune. His boss was a middle-aged guy who’d go on to become a rival, peer, foe, foil, subject, colleague and friend — Sid Hartman. That gig started a love affair with papers that continues 50 years later, even if the business looks nothing like it once did. After stints at the newspapers in Duluth and St. Cloud, Reusse came back to the Twin Cities in 1968, spending 20 years in St. Paul before switching to the Star Tribune in 1988.
Reusse worked as a beat writer in his early years — along with a brief tenure as a morning editor that, he wrote, was a “failure, since it put me in charge of my drinking buddies” — before becoming a columnist in 1979. Reusse’s a versatile writer, but there’s no doubt he excels at those pieces that are the most-read for any big-city newspaper columnist and attract the most praise or vitriol from readers and fans, depending on whether they agree with his view: the rip job. He wasn’t impressed with Gophers football coach Tim Brewster’s intro. He pleaded with the NCAA selection committee to keep the Gophers hoops team out of the tourney. He said goodbye to the Minnesota North Stars, those losers. Today’s Twins are a lot like the miserable Twins of the ’90s. Then there are the Turkeys. Since 1978, Reusse’s picked a Turkey of the Year and the committee’s decisions always spark controversy.
But a one-note columnist would become a boring read, and what sets Reusse apart from so many is his love of the stories that are rarely in the spotlight, along with his ability to spin yarns on everything from John Gagliardi’s retirement to the legendary Edgerton basketball team from 1960 to the Fulda-Slayton Goat to an old Star Tribune copy editor named Bud Armstrong. Read his piece on Walsh Field in Gaylord and his column on Danube legend Bob Bruggers. Or his column on the Vikings’ Weeping Blondes.
These days, Reusse spends more time on the radio than he does at the paper, as he’s a daily co-host on 1500 ESPN with Phil Mackey. Reusse’s an early sports-radio pioneer — he started in 1980 with longtime friend and fellow columnist Joe Soucheray, a combo that’s still on the air today. Anyone who’s heard Reusse tell a tale on the radio — which is often punctuated with his distinctive cackle — knows his on-air style is as unique as his written one.
Check out Reusse’s column archive and blog and follow him on Twitter. And for a great story about Reusse, be sure to read this 2009 piece from David Shama.
Here, Reusse talks about his writing style, Turkeys, Sid, controversial columns, town team baseball, life in newspapers and radio, saying goodbye to Minnesota legends, what motivates him today, and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Patrick.