Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Trent Frayne 1918-2012

The sports writing world lost a legend on February 11, 2012 with the passing of Trent Frayne.

Mostly noted for his work in the newspaper and magazine trade, Frayne also put his name to 13 books. Upon hearing of his passing, I couldn't resist going to my book shelves and dusting off one of his finest - The Mad Men of Hockey.

Written in 1974, the back cover provides the best description of the content contained within the 191 pages - "Put it this way: The Mad Men of Hockey is a gold mine of the game's lore and lunacy." Given the additional space, which a newspaper column doesn't provide, Frayne was able to do what he did best - tell a story.

Here is a short example.

Frayne writes about this exchange between New York Americans coach Red Dutton and one of his defencemen, Joe Jerwa. After being beaten by two Ranger players in the same manner (the forwards slid the puck between his skates), Dutton confronted Jerwa.

"...Dammit, Joe," he yelled, "you did that on purpose. That'll cost you two hundred and fifty."

"Why don't you double it?" hollered Jerwa.

"It is doubled," cried Dutton.

"You can't do it," said Jerwa, beginning to grin.

"Why the hell can't I?"

"Because," laughed Jerwa, "there ain't that much comin' in my pay."

Reading this passage made me feel as though I was eavesdropping on the conversation between Dutton and Jerwa! Frayne, weaving the story to put the reader in a position of being a fly on the wall with ears glued to the give and take.

Trent Frayne first got his feet wet in journalism with the Winnipeg Tribune in the 1940s. He went on to punch the keys for the Globe and Mail, Toronto Telegram. Toronto Star and Toronto Sun. On the magazine side, his work appeared in various publications most notably in MacLean's and the Saturday Evening Post.

Born in Brandon Manitoba on September 13, 1918, Trent Frayne died in Toronto at the age of 93.

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