Arthur J. Daley, Class of 1922
Father of Two Prep Graduates
Arthur Daley was born in New York on July 31, 1904, and grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He was the son of Daniel Daley, a rope manufacturer, and Mary Greene Daley, a homemaker who was also involved in the family business. He graduated from Fordham Prep in 1922 and from Fordham College in 1926. At his untimely passing in January 1974, he had achieved worldwide recognition for his achievements as a sports journalist, notably his “Sports of the Times” column in the New York Times, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Clues to Arthur’s professional path in life appeared early. He participated in baseball, basketball, football, track and swimming while at the Prep and College, though from the beginning, baseball was his favorite. He was named assistant sports editor of the Ram during his junior year at the University, and the chief sports editor during his senior year. During his Rose Hill years, he would become friends with a boy from Valentine Avenue just off Fordham Road not far from the Campus gate. That boy, a freshman at the Prep the year that Daley went on to college, was John Murphy, Class of 1925, who would go on to be one of baseball's first great relief pitchers and the general manager of the 1969 "Miracle Mets." The two Prep Hall of Honor inductees would remain friends long after their Fordham days.
After his graduation from the College in 1926, Daley would join the New York Times, his one and only employer. He started as a general assignment reporter, but his interests leaned toward sports news. One of his first assignments was to cover Gene Tunney’s training camp before the champion’s 1927 title defense against boxing great Jack Dempsey. During these early years, college sports and professional football were his major focus. But he loved baseball, having been a fan as a boy and having played center field at Fordham. When Major League Baseball started to hold their winter meetings at the New Yorker Hotel, Arthur realized it was a reporter’s gold mine. Eventually, he became more comfortable with the baseball diamond than any other field. At the spring training camps, at the New York ballparks and at the World Series, Daley and his clipboard were a permanent part of the scenery as he ambled from dugout to batting cage scrawling notes on a yellow pad. At the old Polo Grounds, where he covered Giants games, Arthur doubled as the announcer on the public-address system.
Early in his career, on November 28, 1928. Arthur married Elizabeth "Betty" Blake. They had four children, two daughters, Patricia and Catherine, and two sons. Both of Arthur’s sons would graduate from the Prep, Robert in 1947 and Kevin in 1948. Their father's words to them: “The best education you’ll ever get is a Jesuit education.”
In 1932, Arthur reported from the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Then in 1936, Arthur covered the Olympics in Berlin as the first New York Times sportswriter to receive a foreign assignment. The '36 Games were notorious for Adolf Hitler’s attempt to use them as a forum for Nazi propagandizing. With his four gold medals in track and field, American Jesse Owens underscored the absurdity of Hitler’s claims of Aryan superiority. Arthur Daley wrote from Berlin: “Jesse Owens glides over the track with the grace of a streamlined express flying over the open prairie.”
During the first 115 years of its existence, the New York Times had had only two sports columnists — Arthur Daley was one of them. A column called “Sports of the Times” began appearing on Jan. 1, 1927 under the byline of John Kiernan, who wrote it for 15 years. When Kiernan moved to the New York Sun, Arthur took over the column "until further notice," though no notice would come in Arthur's lifetime. His first column appeared on Christmas Eve, 1942, and was published thereafter seven days a week. As recounted by Daley's son, Robert, Arthur was hesitant to take the position at first, but Betty encouraged him as she would throughout his career, "Of course you can do it, Arthur." Her faith in her husband's ability was certainly not misplaced.
According to his son, Kevin, on one day of each week, Daley would write two columns so that he could take Sunday off. It was a big job. While a sports reporter would be assigned to a single team, sports columnists, like Arthur, were responsible for writing the big stories on all sports. As Kevin recalled, when his father was traveling, the Daley children were responsible for reading the sports sections of all eight daily New York newspapers of the day and clipping the columns of rival sports columnists so that Arthur would have them for reference.
By his son's account, Arthur never missed a column, and when the Times cut the column’s frequency from seven to six times a week after 15 or 20 years, Arthur felt "really hurt” and wondered what he could possibly have done wrong. In Kevin's words: “He felt so responsible for that column.”
Arthur was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for “Sports of the Times” in 1956, an event celebrated at a gala dinner at the Waldorf Astoria that was attended by Mayor Wagner, the Governor and Cardinal Spellman. Arthur is one of a handful of sportswriters in history to have won a Pulitzer.
Daley wrote several books, including The Story of the Olympic Games with John Kiernan, Kings of the Home Run, and Pro Football’s Hall of Fame, among others. The Arthur Daley Years, a collection of his columns, was published soon after his sudden death on January 3, 1974. He suffered a heart attack and collapsed on the street on the way to his office. He never retired from his column. Services were held at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
It has been estimated that during his 47 years with the Times, Arthur Daley had written over 20 million words, a chronicle of sporting events of every description from six decades of the 20th century.
The Daley literary legacy was continued by Arthur's children and grandchildren. Both of Arthur’s sons graduated from the Prep, Robert in 1947 and Kevin in 1948. Kevin would found Communispond, a leading communications company and would author several books in his field, while Robert, who was a writer for the Times in the 1950s and 60s, would go on to pen novels, several of which have been made into movies, including Prince of the City, Night Falls on Manhattan, and Year of the Dragon. Arthur’s granddaughter, Suzanne Daley, started at the New York Times in 1978, eventually holding such posts as education editor, national editor and European correspondent.