RIP: New Orleans Sportswriter Pete Finney

A gentle giant of Big Easy journalism.

Consider this. Pete Finney’s first professional byline appeared in the New Orleans State-Item the same day that the American Allies won the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.

That’s just one of the many compelling facts to be savored in John Pope’s Times-Picayune obituary of Finney. The 88-year-old New Orleans legend, who spent the bulk of his career writing for the daily, passed away this morning at age 88. Here’s another cool memory from Pope’s piece:

No job was too small for Finney. [Friend Jerry] Izenberg recalled a story Mr. Finney told about a reporter in pre-computer days who had a story due but was assigned to ride in a Carnival parade. To get the man’s story, Mr. Finney went to the parade, and the reporter threw it to him from his float.

The comments rolling in to Pope’s obituary are also warm and wonderful. They include at press time several from former Times-Picayune colleagues (Finney retired in 2013). Here’s one from Jim Derry:

When I began working in the Sports department as a kid cutting up agate type and posting it on the “scoreboard page” in 1990, I was in awe when he would walk in. He was not just a fantastic storyteller, but he was a New Orleans icon. I always felt like I was in the presence of greatness. I remember watching the “Christian Laettner shot” in 1992 with him standing right next to me, and having time to talk to him about it immediately afterward. I think about that every time I see that highlight. As inconsequential as it was to him, it was one of the highlights of my young career. I wanted to be like him. He will never be forgotten, and although this phrase is used entirely too much, it applies to Pete: He was one of a kind.

And here’s another from Larry Holder:

I remember meeting Peter when I first started covering the Saints more than a decade ago. I was in awe of him. I read so much of his work as a kid and aspired to be him. He could have easily blown me off as some young punk. He did the exact opposite. I’ll never forget it.

Such an incredible journalist. An even better person. Thank you for being you, Peter.

More memories in the paper from Ron Higgins, who praises Finney as ‘the best sports columnist in the state’s history,’ and at NewOrleanSaints.com from one-time Times-Picayune colleague John DeShazier. RIP.

Image via: nola.com