Former Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register sports columnist John Hall died Monday.
Hall was 90.
He was a sports writer and columnist for 29 years with the Los Angeles Mirror and the Los Angeles Times in the Times-Mirror organization. For the Times Hall, was the USC and then the Angels beat writer.
Hall would become best known for his Times sports column that usually appeared on page 3 a few days a week. His “The Hall truth, and nothing but the truth … “ columns were a must-read, for sports fans and sports personalities alike.
He joined the Register, then known as the Santa Ana Register, in 1981, to become its lead sports columnist.
Dennis Peck, a news editor now at the Portland Oregonian, was a Register sports department copy editor when Hall moved from the Times to the Register. Peck remembers Halls hiring as a sign that the Registers sports section was about to mature into a sports section that would soon be winning major industry awards.
“We were really still just a bunch of kids,” Peck said. “Hiring John Hall was the first sign that we were going to be something.”
Hall and Steve Bisheff were a sports columnist tandem for many years at the Register.
“Once Hall came to the Register,” Bisheff said, “the Register became a destination for sportswriters because you knew you were going to be working with him and that the people at the Register wanted it to become a big-league operation. Eventually it did.”
Bisheff first got to know Hall when Bisheff was at the Santa Monica Evening Outlook and Hall already was established as a top writer at the Times.
“Hall was immediately your friend and wanted to help,” Bisheff said. “He was so accepting to young writers.”
Angels vice president of communications Tim Mead remembered Hall for his knowledge of Orange County sports history.
“John had an incredible mind and passion for the sports he covered and wrote about,” Mead said. “But more important was the way he covered the athletes. He appreciated the talent and skill set of every athlete he covered.”
That might be, at least in part, because Hall was a fine athlete himself. He was a basketball standout at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles. Hall went to Stanford on a basketball scholarship.
Hall had worked on the Manual Arts school newspaper and followed as a writer for the Stanford Daily. He started his professional sports writing career at the Hollywood Citizen News before matriculating to the Times-Mirror group.
His final of his 12 years with the Register were spent as a man-about-town columnist for the Register. He would later write a similar column for the San Clemente Sun Post.
Hall was California Sportswriter of the Year six times.
He had a penchant for bestowing nicknames. Cal State Fullerton basketball coach Bobby Dye was “The Wizard of Nutwood,” a play on UCLA coach John Woodens “Wizard of Westwood” label, as Cal State Fullerton is on Nutwood Ave. And there was “The Sealy Cyclone” when Sealy, Texas native Eric Dickerson first made a splash as a Rams star running back.
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Outside of his writing Hall was involved in many organizations, some related to sports and others to charitable organizations. Hall, as much as anyone, helped create the Freedom Bowl college football bowl game that was played in Anaheim from 1984 to 94.
He is in several halls of fame, including the USC Athletics Hall of Fame.
As omnipresent as anybody in Orange County sports for decades, Hall was not seen much in recent years at events like the Irrelevant Week festivities, organized by his longtime friend Paul Salata, at which Hall was a regular.
Services are pending for Hall whose dislike of funerals was well known among his friends.