Hall of Famer
Inducted in 1985
Jim Coleman wanted to be a doctor. And, he was, in fact, a 20-year-old pre-med student at McGill University when he covered his first Grey Cup, freelancing for the Winnipeg Tribune. Luckily for Canadians, his application to medical school was turned down, forcing him to turn his diagnostic attention to the world of sportswriting. Mixing passion and analytical abilities with voluminous knowledge of his subjects, Coleman began his career at the Winnipeg Tribune. He later worked for the Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Bulletin, Canadian Press, Toronto Globe & Mail, and Southam Press. He was one of the most eloquent and respected chroniclers of Canadian sports. Indeed, Coleman was the first sports journalist ever to have a nationally syndicated column in Canada. His columns were a revered blend of insight and opinion with no judgment. This was also a reflection of how he was with his colleagues, some of whom benefited in particular from Coleman's own experience with quitting drinking. While stories abound about lost weekends and late-night revelry, Coleman's greatest feat was the real victory he achieved in becoming sober and in supporting others as they battled the same demons he had. He himself was open about alcoholism, and if it changed anything about his writing it was only to further emphasize the humourous, human side in the thrilling world of sports. And emphasize it he did. Even though he saw and wrote about Canadian athletes in their proudest moments, he also took it upon himself to write about the context in which they competed and lived. One might not normally expect a story about the world's best banana ice cream and a profile of its Russian chef, but from Coleman, in his coverage of the 1972 Team Canada hockey series against the Russians in Moscow, it wasn't a surprise. Nor was it inappropriate; for, really, it was simply another way Coleman chose to invite readers into the world of the country's elite athletes, allowing readers to experience more than the results of a game or event and see how the athletes lived away from the arena, as it were. An inveterate racetracker, Coleman was director of public affairs for the Ontario Jockey Club for a decade (1952-62), yet he still managed to write his five columns a week and do a weekend sports commentary on Toronto radio station CFRB. In 1984, he became publicity director of Stampede Park in Calgary. Coleman was a successful author as well. His best known work was Hoofprints on my Heart published in 1974. He also wrote Hockey is our Game and A Long Ride on a Hobby Horse. Finally, he landed as the self-proclaimed "Vice President in Charge of Ancient History" at the Vancouver Province, and he was still working there when he died at age 90. No one has yet replaced him. No one will try.