By Mac Engel
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Fort Worth, TCU, sports and the literary world lost one our most beloved, wittiest giants on Thursday night with the passing of sports writing icon Dan Jenkins.
He was 89 years old.
TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati confirmed the news late Thursday evening (March 7).
Friends close to Jenkins said his condition over the last three days had taken a turn for the worse.
Jenkins is survived by his wife June, sons Danny and Marty, and daughter Sally, an award-winning sports columnist for The Washington Post.
Jenkins and his wife lived in a nice, small house in west Fort Worth for many years. Jenkins was a graduate of Paschal High School and TCU, where he was a member of the golf team.
Jenkins was also a regular at The Colonial PGA tournament every May.
During an interview at his home in September last year, he said: “I haven’t done anything other than type and know people. I spent a lifetime, six or seven decades, not only typing for a living but cultivating sources.”
Although he covered every sport, Jenkins was known for his relationship and affinity for golf. His Twitter account was a must read during the sport’s majors. He never lost his biting yet subtle wit.
He was one of the few people who could say he was a close friend of the late Ben Hogan. With his humor and charming personality, he befriended virtually all of the sport’s major stars, most notably Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
Decades ago, Hogan actually tried to recruit Jenkins to pursue golf professionally.
Jenkins’ writing career spanned more than six decades, and his legacy is secure next to the likes of Grantland Rice, Red Smith and Jim Murray.
After breaking in at the Fort Worth Press, Jenkins went on to become one of the most successful and influential writers at Sports Illustrated when the magazine was the most important publication in the American sports world.
He also wrote columns for Playboy magazine and Golf Digest.
Jenkins wrote more than 20 books, including best sellers “Semi-Tough,” “Baja Oklahoma,” and “Dead Solid Perfect.” Last year, he had another book published, “Sports Makes You Type Faster.”
Jenkins won countless awards, including the Red Smith Award in 2013 and the PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing. He is one of three writers to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
He is also a member of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame. He received the lifetime achievement award in sports journalism from the PGA of America.
Although Jenkins was no University of Texas fan, the university created the Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting.
In September, he said he was working on yet another book.
“I can still type, and the reason I still write is because I don’t want to lose this,” he said in that interview, tapping his head. “I want to keep my mind active. I don’t believe in retirement. Everybody who retires too early dies too early.”
Whenever Dan Jenkins died, it was going to be too early because he never lost what made him so special to Fort Worth, to TCU, to golf, and to the entire sports world.
(APSE file photo: Dan Jenkins with APSE President Gerry Ahern in 2013)