Culver City Observer -

Bud Furillo, The Steamer; A Great Read for Sports Fans

 

Photo Courtesy Santa Monica Press, LLC

If you're relatively new to Southern California you probably won't get much out of this column.

But if you're an old timer you might want to be reminded of the accomplishments of Bud Furillo, who covered sports in his unique way here for about 60 years before he died in 2006.

For a long time Jim Murray was the gifted sports columnist of the Los Angeles Times and Furillo was the dynamic sports editor of the now defunct Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. Besides presiding over the Herald's sports section which was much livelier than The Times, Furillo wrote a column called The Steam Room and became recognized as "The Steamer."

"Bud Furillo was right in the middle of it," recalls longtime Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda in a new book "The Steamer. "You couldn't wait to read the Herald Examiner to see what the Steamer was saying. He covered every sport and brought out things nobody else could ever do."

He was also a great boss. Furillo hired me at the Herald Examiner to work the midnight to eight shift in the office when I was 24 years old. Two years later he promoted me to the Angels beat and I also helped out on the Rams.. Two more years later he offered me the Lakers beat, which I accepted. It turned into my career highlight.

I worked with talented journalists, many who later thrived with other publications when the Herald Examiner folded. Steve Bisheff, Doug Krikorian, Allan Malamud, Jack Disney, Melvin Durslag, Bob Hunter to name a few.

"Bud was a newspaper genius,' recalls Bisheff who later became a columnist for the Orange County Register and is now an author of sports books.

"He was very creative and well ahead of his time. Emotional and sometimes difficult but also great fun. We learned so much and we were fortunate to have him as our mentor."

Andy Furillo, Bud's son, has had a longtime newspaper career and is currently a reporter for the Sacramento Bee.

"The last time I saw my dad alive was at The House Of Blues on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles" recalls Andy. "Then he went home where he was writing his memoirs.

"Shortly thereafter at Bud's funeral the priest said he heard the steamer was working on a book about his career and one of his sons was a journalist. He asked that the son identify himself.

Andy did that and the priest told him "finish the book."

"The command sat in my head for five years," Andy recently said. "Searching for my dad's soul I found it

In scrapbooks kept by his mother."

Several years passed before Andy connected with a publisher, Santa Monica Press of Solana Beach, California.

Andy interviewed many of Bud's staff members, including me. He came to my home and we spent two hours talking about my years with The Steamer.

Andy then traveled to Youngstown, Ohio, Bud's original home and talked to people there.

Photo Courtesy Santa Monica Press, LLC

In 1966: From left Allan Malamud, Bud Furillo, Bob Hunter, Jack Disney, Mitch Chortkoff, Angels manager Bill Rigney

"It was the golden age of L.A. sports and Bud was the heart of the media industry", says Lasorda.

"In 1972 I trusted Bud Furillo to tell my story," recalls basketball star Bill Walton. "He got it better than perfect."

'I'm proud that Bud and I were best friends for a lifetime," said former LA Times columnist John Hall. "Bud and I talked about writing a book together but we never got to it. Now Andy has done it for us."

There are precious photos in the book.

The Steamer is pictured with Sandy Koufax, Rocky Marciano, Wilt Chamberlain, Steve Garvey, Jim Hill, Mickey Mantle, Dusty Baker, Mark Spitz, Yogi Berra, John McKay, Chuck Knox. Terry Donahue and Herald staff members including a much younger me in 1966.

Thank you, Steamer for the life you gave we Herald Examiner graduates so long ago. You're the best.

The book is available at Amazon.com

 

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