Dan Jenkins 1928–2019
The journalist who cracked up sports fans
Jenkins was born in Fort Worth, where his salesman and gambler father “left the family when Dan was a toddler, though he showed up now and then to take his son to sporting events,” said The New York Times. Raised mainly by his paternal grandparents, he discovered a talent for writing when his grandma bought him a typewriter. He would type out a story from that day’s newspaper word for word, said The Washington Post, until one day he decided to improve an article. “I thought, ‘This guy’s an idiot, I can do better than this,’” Jenkins said. “It hasn’t stopped since.” He started writing for The Fort Worth Press while attending Texas Christian University, where he was captain of the golf team and practiced with his hometown hero, pro golfer Ben Hogan.
The writer joined Sports Illustrated in 1962 “and saw his stock rise alongside the magazine’s for two decades,” said Sports.Yahoo.com. His first piece for SI dealt with the terrors of putting. “The devoted golfer is an anguished soul,” he wrote, “who has learned a lot about putting just the way an avalanche victim has learned a lot about snow.” Jenkins left SI in 1985 and became a regular columnist for Golf Digest; he was working on a new book shortly before his death. “I don’t believe in retirement,” he said in September. “Everybody who retires too early dies too early.” ■