January 1, 1935 - May 28, 2015
OAKLAND -- Ron Bergman, Born January 1, 1935 – Died May 28, 2015. The colorful, stylish sportswriter best known for documenting the Swingin' A's of the 1970s, died Thursday. He was 80.
Bergman was the Oakland Tribune's original A's beat writer when the franchise arrived from Kansas City in 1968 and went on to cover their three consecutive World Series titles.His book "Mustache Gang" remains the best insider account of that wild cast of characters.
"It's a great loss for all of us. He was a cool dude," said Vida Blue, who won the MVP and Cy Young Award for the A's in 1971. "Remember, this was the 1970s, and our relationship with the media was a lot different. He'd be on our flights. He'd be there for drinks. And nothing was off limits -- the good and the bad."
Bergman would hit the town with Catfish Hunter or Joe DiMaggio (an A's coach at the time) and played bridge with the likes of Rollie Fingers and Ken Holtzman. As a result, Blue said, players confided in him, allowing Bergman to produce an almost daily parade of scoops.
Glenn Schwarz, who covered the A's beat for the San Francisco Examiner during those years, said: "I was a so-called peer. But he was peerless. He was the best baseball writer of his time."
Former Tribune columnist Dave Newhouse recalled Mr. Bergman as a skilled writer who crafted many memorable stories, including one about Catfish Hunter's perfect game in 1968that began "Catfish is King". He is perfect"
The course of Bergman's wide-ranging career, including a distinguished turn at the San Jose Mercury News, he wrote about some of the Bay Area's biggest winners and losers. He became particularly close to Don Nelson, the former Warriors coach, who shared Bergman's love of good times and good conversation.
I’m going to go light a candle for him right now. He was a dear friend and a wonderful human being," Nelson said by phone from Hawaii. "I really enjoyed his life and wish him well in the hereafter."
Known as "Bergy" -- no one ever called him Ron -- the Cal graduate delivered deadline prose that blended sophistication with irreverence. While at the Mercury News, he dubbed San Jose State basketball star Olivier Saint-Jean the "Flying Frenchman" and once wrote: "Saint-Jean, who is nothing if not insouciant, dismissed the incident as a mere bagatelle."
Born in Philadelphia on New Year's Day in 1935, he started his newspaper career at the Oroville Mercury Register and later worked at the Associated Press, Oakland Tribune and Mercury News.
Bergman covered the Beatles' final concert at Candlestick Park and delivered stories on everything from tennis to horse racing to hockey. He once introduced his daughter to a promising young gymnast named Nadia Comaneci. "You name it, he covered it," Anne Bergman said.
Bergman, who spent his final years in Oakland, died from complications of Parkinson's disease. He is survived by former wife Sally, with whom he had two children, Anne and Adam; a brother, Jim; and grandchildren Henry and Ella.