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David van Dyck dies at the age of 76; The former Sun-Times journalist was the “gold standard” among sportswriters

David van Dyck, a Chicago sportswriter and former Sun-Times journalist, died in Fort Myers, Florida. said his family. He was 76.

Mr van Dyck died on November 22, but his death was only recently reported on social media. There were no church services.

Sun-Times sports editor Chris De Luca first met Mr. Van Dyck while covering baseball in the 1980s.

“As a participant and colleague, he was one of the most respected sportswriters in Chicago,” De Luca said. “The copy desk loved him because his copy was clean and always early. Dave always had a great story to tell.”

Mr. Van Dyck was born in 1947 in Washington, Illinois, where he took up sports journalism after his high school basketball coach felt bad about cutting him from the team and got him a job at a local newspaper. He then earned a degree in English literature from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he became sports editor of the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette.

At the Sun-Times, Mr. Van Dyck made his mark on sports journalism by teaming with Joe Goddard on the baseball beat.

In addition to his baseball reporting, Mr. Van Dyck also covered auto racing, particularly the Indy 500, where he was at the center of a “brotherhood of writers,” said Sun-Times colleague Herb Gould. Mr. Van Dyck was always the first to grab coffee and cookies in the morning while covering the race.

Gould, originally a news and features writer, was hired to cover the race without knowing anything about the sport, but Mr. Van Dyck became a mentor, as he did to many others over the years.

“I really wasn’t familiar with auto racing at all, and as time went on I really grew to like it, partly because of the way Dave introduced me to it,” Gould said. “I’ve never been a driven person. … But I know why Dave loved the sport.”

Gould said Mr. Van Dyck’s strength was his contacts during his deployment, contacts he made simply by taking the time to talk to people. He remembered walking down “Gasoline Alley,” the garage area where race cars are stored, repaired and prepared, on his first day, and stopping at Mr. Van Dyck’s to talk to racers and team bosses about tires and cars , which recently debuted.

“He went from talking to reporter so easily and got some valuable information,” Gould said. “He was always just there to talk to people.”

Mr. Van Dyck covered more than two dozen Indy 500s and a number of Daytona 500s, along with the Chicago Bears’ only Super Bowl victory in 1986 and the home run derby between the Cubs’ Sammy Sosa and the Cardinals’ Mark McGwire in the in 1998. His work later made him a two-time finalist for the JG Taylor Spink Award, the Baseball Writers Association of America’s highest honor, and earned him the Washington Roots Award – an honor given to those from his hometown who “significant contributions.”

In 1992, Mr. van Dyck was named national baseball beat writer for the Sun-Times before moving to Fox Sports on television at the turn of the century. He later covered baseball for the Tribune.

Former Sun-Times reporter Toni Ginnetti said he was a “colleague, not a competitor,” although that didn’t stop him from winning — even as Bo Jackson moved from football to baseball.

One that particularly stood out to her was his comment about who was replacing Cleveland left fielder Albert Belle’s supposedly corked bat. She said she didn’t know how he got the information, but suspected it was because of his habit of talking to the “little guys”: security guards, secretaries and groundskeepers, among others, who have confided stories to him over the years had.

“He was just skillful and never lost his flair for writing, conveying and getting the news,” Ginnetti said. “He was the gold standard of what you want to be in this job.”

Mr. Van Dyck then worked for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., where he was one of a few people on the veterans committee that re-evaluated older players who were passed over for nomination.

“I wish I could tell him again how much we all respected him and how much he always meant to us in this profession,” Ginnetti said. “It was an honor to be on his team.”

After his retirement he moved to Florida. He is survived by his wife, Connie van Dyck; three children, Laura Silvestri, Geoffrey van Dyck and Amy Muscolino; brother Peter van Dyck and sister Susan van Dyck; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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