High school sports: Craig Lynch, blind sportswriter, dies at 72

One day in 1982, Craig Lynch walked into the old Sun-Times building on Wabash Avenue and asked Taylor Bell for a job.

“He said some of his friends had heard that we were looking for [freelance writers] to cover high school sports,” said Bell, the now-retired Sun-Times prep sports editor.

Bell’s philosophy was to give virtually any potential writer a chance. Those who couldn’t file an exact copy under tight deadlines tended to be weeded out fairly quickly.

This was no problem for Lynch, even though he was different from most journalists: he was blind from birth.

But that didn’t stop him. Lynch spent more than 25 years covering prep sports for the Sun-Times, part of a career that saw him become one of the most well-known and beloved members of Chicago’s sports media scene.

Lynch died Tuesday shortly after suffering a stroke. He was 72 years old.

Tributes to Lynch have been popping up all week on social media from other members of the media and even the Cubs, who said on Twitter: “The Cubs mourn the passing of longtime radio journalist Craig Lynch, who covered the team for over 20 years Craig was a pleasure to work with and the press box at Wrigley Field will not be the same without him.

Lynch’s work spanned decades and media. In the 1980s and 1990s, in addition to his freelance work for the Sun-Times, he was a full-time employee of Triton College. As athletic director of the college radio station, he covered a Triton baseball team that included future MLB players Kirby Puckett and Lance Johnson.

Lynch also covered college sports at Northwestern and DePaul (he went to school with longtime Blue Demons women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno) and filed radio stories about the Cubs for the stations. from the south of the state.

But his coverage of high school sports is perhaps his most enduring legacy. After leaving the Sun-Times, Lynch continued to work for various suburban outlets.

“He did the job as well as anyone with sight,” Bell said. “He always got the interviews, always got the stats.”

Bell remembers occasional backsliding in the early years. “In its early days, some coaches [said], “What does a blind man do to cover my game?” “Said Bell. “We had to get out of this. We got away with it. »

“He didn’t want anyone to do him a favour,” Bell added. “[Coaches] soon realized he knew what he was doing.

Much like his colleagues in Chicago’s competitive media environment.

Chuck Garfien, a veteran reporter and anchor for NBC Sports Chicago, first crossed paths with Lynch at a DePaul men’s basketball game in 2005.

“It blew my mind,” Garfien said as he watched Lynch do his job. “I had to know him. He became a dear friend and someone who touched me deeply. …I wanted to live my life like him.

Craig Lynch, left, with Doug Bruno and Tim McKinney, right, was a longtime friend and former classmate of women’s basketball coach DePaul.

Garfien and other friends recalled Lynch’s infallible nature and quick wit.

It tells a story about Lynch going to a Cubs/Dodgers series in Los Angeles in 1979. A Dodgers fan heckled Chicagoans saying, “You’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind to be a Cubs fan”, to which Lynch replied, “Don’t hit the blind.”

Tim McKinney is another colleague who became good friends with Lynch after he continued to cross paths on the beat of prep sports. “He was one of the most unique people you know,” said McKinney, who was struck by Lynch’s “sincerity and kindness.”

McKinney has helped Lynch around Wrigley Field for the past few years and the pair have also gone to college games and MLB road trips, where Lynch seemed to know everyone.

One night at Northwestern, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo invited Lynch into the Spartans locker room for a chat. In Cincinnati, there was a shoutout from longtime Reds broadcaster Marty Brenneman.

“He was quick-witted,” McKinney said of Lynch. “We always had a lot of fun and we laughed a lot.”

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