Jay Greenberg was inducted into the writers’ wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame yesterday. He made his name covering the Flyers for two Philadelphia dailies from 1975 to 1989, before moving on to the Toronto Star and New York Post.
Jay was a writer’s writer and a reporter’s reporter. He was fastidious about facts and context, packaged in his signature voice, which combined irony, wit, compassion, and indignation.
I had the privilege and benefit of knowing Jay before Randy Rota and Bobby Clarke knew him. He was a year ahead of me at the University of Missouri, covering Mizzou football and writing a column for the Columbia Missourian. The Tigers went 1-10 in 1971, a miserable season for the faithful and especially new head coach Al Onofrio. It was redeemed only by Jay’s coverage, which initially reflected his sense of grievance, and then progressed to humor, because eventually what could he do but laugh. Characteristic of Jay, he was patient with Onofrio, a soft-spoken and decent man.