Bill Conlin, Disgraced Daily News Columnist, Is Dead

Left paper after child molestation accusations. reports: “Bill Conlin, the legendary former Philadelphia sports columnist whose career came to a crashing end 25 months ago after he was accused of molesting children as far back as the 1970s, died Thursday in a hospital near Clearwater, Fla. Conlin’s son, Pete, confirmed his father’s death in a text to Bill Conlin was 79.”

The Daily News adds: “Conlin resigned from the Daily News Dec. 20, 2011, shortly before the publication of stories in the Inquirer about accusations that he molested seven children in the 1970s. The revelations hit colleagues and acquaintances with a shock wave that has yet to subside.”

The paper offered several former colleagues mixing praise of Conlin’s writing with condemnation of his personal life. “Daily News executive sports editor Chuck Bausman said, ‘Bill was one of the reasons I got into this business. His writing was brilliant. He made stories come alive with his prose and insight. However, what was revealed about his personal life was a tragedy for Bill and his family and a painful reminder for the victims.'”

Comcast SportsNet sums up Conlin’s accomplishments: “Conlin wrote for the Philadelphia Bulletin and the Philadelphia Daily News. He was known for his coverage of baseball. He won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, given annually by the Baseball Writers Association of America, for outstanding baseball writing in 2011 and was honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame that summer.”

Philly Mag profiled him in 2009, before the revelations:

The problem is, the game has changed — Conlin’s game, sportswriting. Four decades ago, when Conlin started covering the Phillies, we opened our newspapers to learn about sports, which meant writers were the shapers and keepers of that communal dreamscape, a heady job; plus, players liked getting mentioned in the papers. ESPN and the Internet changed that, in both immediacy and highlight drama. At the same time, sportswriters and players used to play tennis on off days, or drink together in hotel bars — unthinkable now — and the writer would sometimes pick up the tab, which is really unthinkable now. The culprit there, of course, is money; players started getting paid truckloads of it.

Being marginalized, ignored and otherwise relegated to has-been — even though he’s still, at 75, this city’s best columnist — has Bill Conlin raging into the night at bloggers foolish enough to disagree with his sporting assessments, and e-mailing anyone who will listen about just how good he was and still is. (You might also get e-mailed a snapshot of a young, much thinner Bill on a surfboard.) So no, he hasn’t recovered from that last World Series he traveled back and forth across the country to write about in ’01; he hasn’t gotten over the way he and the other, lesser writers, were herded to a room with tiny TVs.