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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Schaap dies following surgery

Saturday, December 22, 2001

NEW YORK -- Dick Schaap never limited himself to just sports. He was much more versatile than that.

Schaap, who died Friday from complications following hip surgery, won three sports Emmy Awards for his work on ESPN and three more Emmys for features on ABC's "20/20" and ABC's "World News Tonight," where he worked for 20 years. He was 67.

Schaap's subjects covered the spectrum -- from comedian Sid Caesar, who fought back from drug and alcohol addiction, to Bobby McLaughlin, a young man convicted of a murder he did not commit.

But he always came back to sports, fascinated by the athletes and their accomplishments, intent on trying to find out what made them tick.

His Sunday morning ESPN show "The Sports Reporters" was a lively debate with other journalists. And rarely did any of the panelists agree, which gave the show an energy that Schaap relished.

The roster of people he interviewed included presidents and pitchers, governors and golfers. He was quite possibly the only person who voted for the Heisman Trophy and the Tony Awards.

Award-winning journalist

He received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Journalism from the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America in 2001. He won the Northeastern Award for Excellence in Broadcast Sports Journalism in 1986 and the Women's Sports Foundation award for excellence in covering women's sports in 1984.

Schaap, who played lacrosse at Cornell, was inducted into the university's athletic Hall of Fame, and he won one of the Columbia Journalism School's 50th Anniversary Awards as well as an Alumni Award for Career Achievement.

"Dick's unparalleled journalistic achievements were exceeded only by his compassion and respect for his fellow human beings," said ESPN president George Bodenheimer. "He lived each day to the fullest, and during the course of an amazing life, encountered almost every major figure that impacted our culture over the last 40 years."

Schaap was always a man on the move, hopscotching from Newsweek to the New York Herald Tribune, where he was city editor and then a columnist. Then he moved to television as a correspondent for NBC News and then ABC.

During that time, he also served as editor of Sport Magazine and showed another side of his personality. He decided everyone was taking the Super Bowl entirely too seriously and dispatched two players -- Fred Dryer and Lance Rentzel -- to a pregame press conference in New Orleans. They dressed as reporters straight out of "The Front Page" and popped cliche questions at the coaches, a bit of levity the event needed. The NFL, however, was not amused.

He was the author of more than 30 books, including "Instant Replay," the first of four collaborations with former Green Bay Packers lineman Jerry Kramer, which became a best seller when it was published in 1968.

Schaap's son Jeremy followed him to ESPN.

Besides Jeremy, he is survived by his wife and five other children.

The network will present a two-hour documentary on Schaap's career at 9 p.m. Monday.


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