Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Long Time Prep Sports Writer Merv Harris Passes Away by George Devine, Jr.

I know many of you may have seen this in Tuesday’s Chronicle Sporting Green, but longtime Bay Area Sportswriter Merv Harris passed away this week.

I first met Merv in 1985 or 86 when he covered Sacred Heart basketball for the old Examiner during my high school years. Over the years, I learned a great deal from Merv. He used to recall his days covering the Fabulous Lakers of the early 70’s and draw similarities with the games and athletes he covered in the ’80s and ’90s. Merv would manage to keep accurate statistics in his trusty little scorebook while sharing a tale or two about Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, and other NBA giants of .the pre-SportsCenter era. If anyone ever heard a WCAL basketball PA announcer chuckle as they started to announce a foul, you can blame Merv for providing an ill-timed, but well-appreciated to a story about Bob Cousy or Nate Thurmond.

Please click below for a wonderful tribute to Merv Harris by George Devine, Jr. I knew Merv from my early days in radio when he was on “The Prep Sports Showcase,” one of my first shows on KECG 88.1 FM. A terrific man! Thanks George for this article. Marty LurieI consider myself very lucky to have known Merv. He shared his gift of writing and storytelling with thousands of readers around the Bay Area. Many high school coaches, athletes, and parents looked forward to his Prep Notebook every Tuesday in the Examiner. Merv always found ways to include young people and their accomplishments in his reports. His presence at a Friday night game gave it that “game of the week” feel. You knew that his writing would make the readers of Saturday’s Zam feel like they froze at Kezar Stadium or suffered hearing loss in the Crusader Forum thanks to the Riordan Band!

Merv offered encouragement, both on a personal and professional level to many of us connected to high school sports. I remember when I first started writing for the Progress in 86, he told me to keep at it, the same went when I provided stories to the Independent a few years later. Merv also reached out to me and more importantly the entire community of Sacred Heart Cathedral athletics in the early ’90s after the school abandoned the WCAL in football. Each year, he “reserved” at least two honorable mention, all-Bay Area slots for our players who didn’t have the opportunity to earn all-league honors. That move showed a touch of class. But it also showed that Merv refused to let some of the hardest-working student-athletes, and one of the longest-suffering programs labor in obscurity!

Merv took a great deal of pride in being one of the first students to attend and graduate from Cal State Los Angeles. Looking back, I bet that part of his drive to properly match schools and their nicknames, respect their traditions, and celebrate rivalries came from his own intense school spirit of going to a school that never registered on most people’s radar. Outside of a few powerhouses in high school and JC sports around the Bay Area, most schools lack familiarity with the average fan. So Merv’s constant quest to reach out and know his beat, made him many friends, and earned him the respect of his readers.

On a personal level Merv is one of the folks along with my family, and a few others who’ve helped me reach this point in my writing and broadcasting career. I work at KGO-TV, KPIX-TV, file correspondent reports for Fox Sports Radio, and call play-by-play for USF basketball in part because of Merv’s encouragement in the mid 1990’s. When I reached a dead end with one employer and they no longer enjoyed my writing and public speaking, Merv kept reminding me to stay at it, keep enjoying covering games and meeting the people connected with them, and most importantly, choose my critics wisely. I knew if Merv nodded his approval toward my work, it was pretty good. I took his advice and I’ve never regretted it.

I think it would be very fitting for one of high school sports’ sanctioning bodies to name an award or some other honor in Merv’s memory. The writers and broadcasters who toil covering high school sports do so without the comfort and convenience their colleagues enjoy in “Big League” press boxes. They carry on Merv’s mission, to get the facts right while telling the story accurately and properly. Merv held a particular fondness for the WCAL. He always enjoyed the annual basketball jamboree in November. Perhaps one, if not all of the schools could do keep his memory alive by proposing to name the event for him.

George Devine, Jr.
San Francisco, CA


1 Anonymous { 05.10.05 at 10:44 pm }

Marty and George,

Thanks for presenting this tribute. I was stunned to hear the news. Merv was always a friend and colleague at the Examiner, and I appreciated enjoyed his counsel and advice. He will be missed.

Casey Tefertiller

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