The passing of a great msmer

Today the sports media profession is playing a man short. Earl McRae was a keeper. Earl McRae could write. Earl McRae, simply put got it.

He wrote for the Toronto Star and Ottawa Sun, to name but a few. A gander on twitter tells you he was well respected and liked by his peers.

I never met him. I remember wanting to send him a case of beer for ripping Ben Johnson when he got busted for steroids at the Olympics in what was a fantastic column. The opening bit, the absolute prize : ” Thanks, Ben, you bastard,”

If that doesn’t say it all.

Google the name, pour a scotch and read some great sports stories.


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October 16, 2011 5:37 am

There aren’t too many word associations that are more automatic for me than for when I hear the name Earl McRae… “You Bastard”. RIP.

Paul (from Hespeler)
Paul (from Hespeler)
October 16, 2011 10:34 am

Sad news. I used to enjoy Earl coming on with Mike Hogan on the FAN — before Don Kollins and the massive blow-up … ah the good ol’ days.
“Earl the Pearl” was immensely entertaining, and had a great depth of knowledge about all main stream North American sport. He was a great story teller and had a couple of true bits about spending time with Elvis (Pressley, not Mr. Krall). Earl would wax on about poetically and maintained that Elvis is still alive and well living in Tweed, Ontario.
He will be missed, but now Earl can look up Elvis and share a laugh and peanut butter and bacon sandwich with him again.


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October 16, 2011 4:48 pm

Earl first moved to the Ottawa Citizen when I was in high school. I read his columns religiously. He was the first sports columnist in Ottawa who regularly brought the outside world into the sports world. Some columns that I still remember to this day:

In writing about the heartbreaking loss of the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series, he connected it to a homeless man panhandling outside the stadium and, without ever saying so, made the supposed heartbreak of the losing players seem irrelevant by comparison.

He made a rather astute commentary on the nature of our multicultural society in looking at how quickly Ben Johnson became “Jamaican” in the eyes of Canadians after the steroid scandal in Seoul.

He wrote about a sports writing hero of his own; a man who, while the rest of the press was wringing their hands and treading lightly around Bill Buckner following the infamous error in game 6 of the ’86 World Series, had the stones to ask him why he didn’t pull himself out of the game in favour of his far more mobile backup once they had the lead since he know his knees were bad; his mobility was limited; and he was not due to hit again unless they went at least a couple of innings into extra innings.


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Gerry (Burlington)
Gerry (Burlington)
October 17, 2011 8:36 am

As Paul pointed out, Earl used to be a fairly regular guest on the Fan back in the day. He was extremely entertaining. Even if you didn’t agree with him, you wanted to listen as he made for a good interview. RIP Earl.

Chris F.
Chris F.
October 17, 2011 2:37 pm

I didn’t know much about the man as a writer but I used to love hearing him on the air with Mike Hogan. He had a caustic wit and was acid tongued when he wanted to make a point.


October 17, 2011 10:04 pm

Chris, Paul, yes I remember those days with Hogan too. I hadn’t heard him in a long time. RIP Mr. McRae

October 19, 2011 11:31 am

I lived in Ottawa in the 90’s and Earl McRae was the only reason to read the Sun (aside from the Pg3 girl…but that wasn’t “reading”). His writing was hilarious, dynamic and insightful, and I don’t know how he didn’t have a wider following. After meeting him once, I realize now that he probably didn’t want it. I’ve kept following him since moving to Toronto in 1996, and now my lunchtime routinue has a sad little hole in it. God bless you, Earl. You will be missed.

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