Irv Moss, Denver Post sports reporter for 60 years, dies at 85 Reply

From The Denver Post

The man many consider to be the encyclopedic authority on Colorado sports, Irv Moss, died Wednesday night at the age of 85. He worked at The Denver Post for 60 years.

Moss died of complications from esophageal cancer, according to his close friend, Gary Sever.

Irv Moss of the Denver Post in 2016, when he received the FWAA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. (Photo by Melissa Macatee)

“The last of a vanishing breed in the newsroom,” said Mike Judson, a copy editor who worked alongside Moss at The Post for more than two decades.

“Irv covered it all and knew it all, from preps to colleges to pros to the Olympics, and he was the ultimate pro as a sports journalist,” Judson said. “He could tell you about University of Denver football, which played its last season in 1960, and knew that the annual CU-DU football game on Thanksgiving once was the biggest sports event in the state.”

Jim Saccomano, who served in the Denver Broncos front office for the better part of 40 years until his retirement in 2013, called Moss “a straight shooter and a man of principle.”

“There’s something to be said for packing your lunchbox and doing your job,” said Saccomano, who first met Moss in 1978 upon joining the Broncos organization. “Irv goes back to a time when the city was a different thing.”

Saccomano said when he arrived at Broncos headquarters Moss was there crunching statistics for the football team while also holding down his job with The Post. But Moss’ involvement in sports reporting in the city predated the Broncos’ arrival in the Mile High City.

“When this city was smaller, once upon a time the biggest events might have been the Denver Bears (minor-league baseball team) and the dog track,” said Saccomano, who often ran into Moss at the venerable but now-closed Pagliacci’s restaurant in Denver. “I think of Irv as the journalistic foundation of this city.”

Moss was born Dec. 14, 1934, in Denver and graduated from West High School 18 years later. He attended Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University) in Fort Collins for a while but left school when his father became ill.

In 1953, Moss debuted at The Post as a copy boy at a time when the paper was headquartered at 15th and California streets. After leaving the paper to do electrician work, he returned on Feb. 8, 1956, for what would be a 60-year run at the newspaper.

Then-Denver Post sports editor Chuck Garrity made Moss part of the paper’s coverage of the greyhound races at Mile High Kennel Club, along with the men’s fast-pitch softball league at City Park.

“It was an interesting time to watch, and in a way, be part of the changing of Denver as a sports city,” Moss told Post sports reporter Terry Frei in 2016 for a story about his retirement. “When I first started down here, City Park softball was the big story. And next thing you know, we’re one of the top sports markets in the country.”

After a stint with the Army’s 160th Signal Group in Germany in the late 1950s, Moss put his skills toward covering high school athletics and later college football at Wyoming and Air Force. He got a front-row seat to the Denver Nuggets franchise’s debut in Colorado, having covered the Denver Rockets in the upstart American Basketball Association.

But Dave Plati, longtime sports information director with the University of Colorado at Boulder who got to know Moss starting in 1982 when Plati did public relations for the Denver Bears, said Moss’ true love was baseball.

“He loved baseball and anything to do with baseball the most,” Plati said.

Starting in the mid-1980s, Moss got heavily involved covering the sinuous path to landing a Major League Baseball team in Denver.  He covered the twists and turns of the selection process until 1991 when Commissioner Fay Vincent announced Denver was getting the nod as an expansion city.

The team began play in Colorado in 1993, and Moss was a Rockies beat writer for 12 years.

“I’d see him in the press box at the Rockies and he always talked baseball,” Plati said. “He was assigned for years to do the minor-league reports on the Rockies farm system and truly enjoyed watching what prospects matured to the majors.”

After he retired, Moss rarely missed watching a Rockies game on TV. He attended his last Rockies game on Sept 17 last fall, Sever said, and in one of his last conversations, Moss asked Sever if the Rockies had made any moves this winter.

Moss was decidedly of the nondigital, pre-Facebook generation. Longtime Post sports columnist Mark Kiszla met Moss in 1983.

“I walked into the sports department on California Street, and there Irv was at his desk, with a big phone (landline of course) stuck to his ear,” Kiszla recounted. “Nobody loved being a newspaperman more than Irv. Newspaperman. Old school. So old school I still think of him as a member of the cast from a black-and-white movie about newspapers.”

That included showing up to games with the Post softball team dressed in his office attire — a short-sleeve dress shirt and khaki slacks, Kiszla said. While he argued balls and strikes at the game, Moss didn’t share details about himself with others.

“Irv was an international man of mystery,” Kiszla said. “He did not like to reveal any details about himself. His age. His address. The name of family members.”

But he had no problems trying to extract information from sources — or even from friends and colleagues.

“Irv would appear out of nowhere, from a baseball dugout to the Press Club bar, when you least expected it, with a Cheshire cat grin on his face, and then he would ask: ‘What are you doing here?’” Kiszla recalled. “Bulldog does not begin to describe Irv as a reporter. He liked to begin questions with ‘Coach, would you say …’

“And he would ask the same question five different ways, often to the point of irritation of his interview subject, until he got that coach to say something worthwhile.”

Kiszla said Moss loved the Olympics. In 1972, with clearance from the Post, Moss accepted an invitation from the United States Olympic Committee to work as a public information officer at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. It was the first of 10 Olympics working in that capacity.

“He would work as a press attache for the U.S. Olympic Committee,” Kiszla said. “And he would march in opening ceremonies.”

Former Post sports editor Kevin Dale, who worked with Moss for six years starting in 2000, was amazed by Moss’ passion for not only the games and teams but the athletes who played in those games.

“He had been witness to every major sports event in Colorado for the last half of the 20th century and well into the 21st,” Dale said. “Irv always amazed me with his knowledge of Colorado legends.”

But Dale said Moss didn’t get his head stuck in the clouds covering the big stuff. He also considered the lesser known players and aspiring athletes to be just as important and deserving of attention.

“Yes, he would want to be at the biggest Broncos or Rockies game, but he also told the stories of countless high school and college athletes,” Dale said. “Irv truly did touch all levels of Colorado sports journalism.”

 

 

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