Valley sportswriters take another body shot with death of Bob Eger

By Paul Rubin

We were sad to learn about the death a few days ago of Bob Eger, a veteran local sportswriter and author who was known to everyone he worked with and wrote about as a consummate professional and genuine nice guy.

Egs, as his pals called him, covered ASU sports forever, it seemed--actually, he toiled at the Republic for 30 years after a stint with the Associated Press, and his love of baseball (and of his beloved Sun Devils) was undiminished until a heart attack took him at the age of 66.

After leaving the Republic a few years ago, Eger concentrated on writing books about ASU sports and sitting beside the excellent play-by-play man Tim Healey as radio color commentator for the Sun Devils' baseball team.

We had many opportunities to chat with Egs over the years on our occasional forays into his neck of the woods. Our year-long look at Jim Brock in 1994 as the tough old coach battled back from a terrible illness only to succumb to it at the end of a memorable season was once such instance. Then, in 2006, we spent a great deal of time with current coach Pat Murphy for an extended profile. In both instances, Egs was more than helpful.

In fact, he was a blast, regaling us with stories about both mercurial coaches, and provided invaluable background about what those complicated fellows were and are all about.

Sure, he was a homer, a bigtime homer, for the Sun Devils, but, somehow, it didn't seem to matter much in the end. He called it like he saw it, and was such a nice person, that we of Arizona Wildcats descent couldn't even get mad at him, much less stay mad.

One of Egs' colleagues wrote of him yesterday in an on-line memorial Web page, "I worked with Bob for many years at the Republic, too. He was unfailingly warm, kind and gentle even after giving him reason not to be -- by my making an editing gaffe or writing a headline that didn't quite match the quality of his story. I never saw him angry, and in a newsroom, there's always somebody angry or grumpy about something. He appreciated that everyone at the newspaper tried their best to make a story, a photo and the paper overall the best it could be. When he left the paper, a lot of that wonderful attitude left with him..."

That's about all that needs to be said about Mr. Eger.

His death marks the second major loss to the Valley's sportswriting cadre in recent months. One of our favorites, the East Valley Tribune's Bob Moran, passed away earlier this year at the age of 54, which was an equally lousy blow.

We won't forget those guys.

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