Sid Dorfman, who wrote about sports for more than 70 years for The Star-Ledger, died Feb. 17 at the age of 94.
The Newark-born Dorfman began his career as a 15-year-old high school correspondent for the Newark-based Morning Ledger in 1935. Two years later he took on an additional position with Metropolitan News Service, which supplied such information as wedding notices and obituaries for newspapers around the New York-New Jersey area.
When his boss at MNS ran off with the secretary in 1938, Dorfman took over the company; the following year, he changed the name to Dorf Feature Service.
“Retirement is not for me,” Dorfman told NJ Jewish News in a 2006 interview at the company headquarters in Mountainside. “If you retire, you die. I love operating this organization, to be able to get up every morning and write columns….”
Dorfman was credited with many innovations. He expanded coverage of high school and college athletics and girls’ sports, recognizing the potential for adding their mothers as readers. He also introduced an “all-state” ranking system for schools and individual athletes. “There are 322,000 vstudents in 47 colleges in New Jersey,” he said. “Factor in their families and the schools’ alumni, and you have millions of fans who were being neglected. Regional newspapers can’t keep up, so we provide that service.”
“I can’t think of anything else I would have wanted to do,” he said. “I think there are other professions that are more important perhaps, but then again, what’s more important than the newspapers in relation to our democratic society?”
Having been in the industry for three-quarters of a century, Dorfman saw his share of technological innovations. “We’re in a transitional period,” he said. “The whole industry is questioning what it has to do to remain viable.” Unlike other veteran newsmen, Dorfman said, he believed there can be an “accommodation between newspapers and the Internet.”
“People will not give up their newspapers that easily. [They] still love the printed word right in front of them. Besides, you can’t take [the Internet] into the bathroom.”
Jerry Izenberg, Dorfman’s long-time Star-Ledger associate and friend, wrote in a eulogy for the Star-Ledger last week: “He taught me so much by example. He made the paper the Bible of high school sports. He could walk into any sports event and do the job the way it was supposed to be done.
“When we traveled together, I loved the way he made me laugh. I loved the prose he produced under the kind of time constraints outsiders can never understand. He was the combination of all I aspired to be.
“The writer he was, was terrific. The man he was, was even better.”