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Bob Oates



The 1933 Aberdeen Central and 1937 Yankton College grad was a sportswriter for 70 years, almost all of it in Los Angeles. Oates was an original member of the panel of sportswriters that since 1962 has annually chosen the inductees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.He covered the first 39 Super Bowls. In 2006, when he was 90, he missed Super Bowl XL to stay home with his wife, Marnie, who had suffered a fall a few months earlier. He retired from his full-time position at the Los Angeles Times in 1995 but continued to write football columns for the paper and its Web site on a freelance basis until retiring for good at age 91 in January 2007. A nationally recognized authority on pro football, Oates was the only sportswriter to vote for the Heisman Trophy, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the baseball Hall of Fame, and he did so for more than 35 years. As the 1974 winner of pro football's prestigious McCann award for long and distinguished reporting, he was listened to, as well, in the NFL. In 2001, he wrote a column that the league distributed to all 32 club owners. At their next meeting, the owners voted in the changes Oates advocated: the rules-enforcement measures protecting quarterbacks from late-hit violence. His sportswriting career started in 1936, when he covered the first Chicago all-star football game for the Yankton Press & Dakotan. He also covered the last one in 1976. He covered the Rams throughout their 49 years in California. At the same time, he covered the Rose Bowl and other big college games, and he covered many World Series, starting in 1959. He interviewed the Queen of England as well as such sports greats as Vince Lombardi, Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw, Bill Walsh, Jerry Rice, Ted Williams, Maury Wills and Magic Johnson. Oates was born May 20, 1915, in Aberdeen. His dad was an administrator at Northern State. Oakes worked for the Aberdeen Morning American and Yankton P&D before moving to Los Angeles in the 1930s. He moved to California chiefly so he could write about big-league events on a national scale. While at the Los Angeles Times, he became the first newspaperman whose sole job was to cover national pro and college football. He was the author of four books, including "Football in America: Game of the Century" and "Sixty Years of Winners." (Main photo courtesy of LA Times)












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