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Dark Star: part of a very special group of Minnesota sports-media personalities

Tim MillerTim Miller

On June 1 KFAN radio host (and former Star Tribune sports columnist) Dan Barreiro came on the air and announced that Dark Star died in his home sometime earlier in the day. His radio show for the rest of the afternoon would become a remembrance of “The Darkman.”

An emotional Paul Allen talked about how Dark was the first person he saw on his first day at Canterbury Downs. Dan Cole spoke about Star’s interesting view on sports and how they looked forward to doing their Friday afternoon bits together. And even competitive lines were erased for a moment when longtime Star Tribune columnist and current 1500ESPN radio host  Patrick Reusse joined Barriero on the air to talk about his friend.

After listening and reading what people were saying about Dark Star, whose real name was George Chapple, I felt like I may have been the only person in Minnesota to never have met him in person. I do remember seeing him on The Canterbury Report as a kid, even though I really had no idea what was going on. I also remember listening to him on the way home from Viking games when they were on WCCO radio back in the day. But for some reason his death is still sticking with me.

I texted my brother after I heard about Star’s death and he responded back with a message that hit the nail on the head: Star’s death represents the taking (or in the case, going) away of one the longtime Minnesota sports personalities that have spread across a few generations (more than a few if you’re talking about Sid), and that there doesn’t appear to be anybody waiting in the queue to replace them.

Sure, there are plenty of younger sports personalities making their presence known 140 characters at a time. That’s not an insult; it is just how things are. What I’m talking about is a generation of sports writers who have stories to tell about some of our states’ sports icons of the past, like Bud Grant, Billy Martin, Tommy Kramer, and Herb Brooks.

But for six-month stints in Springfield, Ill., and La Crosse, Wis., I’ve lived in Minnesota all of my life, so I don’t have other markets to compare it with. But I would like to believe when it comes to storytellers of Minnesota sports that our own market is unique. Yes, we get annoyed with them at times (some people a little too annoyed with their comments underneath online columns), but our state, with all of our frustrating sports franchises, has produced sports media types who have not only stuck around, but continue to remain relevant.

Dark StarDark Star

Think about it: Sid Hartman, Patrick Reusse, Charley Walters, Tom Powers, Bob Sansevere have been with their respective newspapers since I started reading about sports on a regular basis. Even television personalities such as Mark Rosen, Randy Shaver, Mike Max, and Joe Schmit have hung around for their entire careers (the latter group appears ageless).

How come? Maybe what now feels like a history, or either losing or just coming up short, entails job security. Or maybe, just maybe, these guys are just good at what they do, even if we don’t agree with them six out of 10 times.

The Darkman was undoubtedly a strange cat, and at the age of 66, left us too soon. He represents a number of things, but, in my book anyway, he represents a legacy of local sports personalities who have left their own mark in Minnesota sports.

Tim Miller lives in Vadnais Heights and currently works in advocacy for the American Academy of Neurology in Minneapolis. You can follow him on Twitter at @trmiller22.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Dan Emerson on 06/19/2012 - 11:16 am.

    Dark mentioned to sneak into

    Dark managed to sneak into the radio business before CCO’s corporate takeover. His weirdness made him interesting — a guy who played Elmore James bumper music and played golf with millionaires. KFAN’s Common Man is another original who would have trouble making it past the corporate gatekeepers who favor cookie-cutter radio.
    Also, describing the local TV sportscasters as “personalities” is quite a stretch.

  2. Submitted by scott gibson on 06/19/2012 - 11:13 am.

    the Dark Man

    Dark was very entertaining. I enjoyed listening to him for years, but caveat emptor. He was fine pontificating on his area of ‘expertise’, but I would cringe when he (and he often recruited Mike Max to help) would offer comments on the national political scene. He was great in the playground that is sports.

    The dark side of the Dark man was his emergence from the world of gambling and his elevation of the connections between gambling and sports. Yes, I acknowledge that this link was already strong, but he served to mainstream it. The Fox Sports/KFAN people and their ties to Canterbury are an off shoot of this. Make no mistake, gambling is a vice. It is not without victims.

  3. Submitted by Kevin Powers on 06/20/2012 - 08:32 am.

    More than just sports…

    The Twin Cities have managed to hang on to a few unique voices on the local airwaves. We lost one of those voices with Dark’s passing. Listen to Mische before the suits spread vanilla from one end of the radio dial to the other.

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