Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Jim Hackleman

When the Honolulu Star-Bulletin went shopping for a new sports editor in the mid-1960s, columnist Jim Becker telephoned an acquaintance at the Associated Press sports desk in New York for recommendation of a suitable candidate.

"Do you know a bright youngster who might want to come out here and be sports editor?" Becker asked Jim Hackleman.

The 40-year-old Hackleman barked, " ‘bright youngster, hell, I'll take it!'" Becker recalled.

He got the job, and for more than 20 years, Hackleman was a brash, eclectic and colorful figure on the Hawaii sports scene.

Hackleman died last Tuesday in Grover Beach, Calif., at 86, according to family.

He served as sports editor of the Bulletin, where he also wrote a popular column, "Hack Stand," and later worked in radio, television and public relations in Honolulu.

Hackleman did sports on radio with Hal "Aku" Lewis, was a weekend sports anchor on KHON and co-hosted "Sports Page" on KHET with Don Robbs. He provided color of UH baseball radio broadcasts from 1977 to 1981, often doing the Sunday Crossword Puzzle during play, and worked for the Hawaii Islanders and Communications Pacific.

He had a raspy voice hardly made for broadcasting but was respected for his knowledge, attention to detail and calling it as he saw it.

"Never," recalls Robbs, "did you have to wonder about how Hack felt about something. He always told you."

Son John recalls, "He could be gruff and grumpy, which is why they called him, ‘Sunny Jim' sometimes, but he was a great father and grandfather."

Hackleman attended West Point, where he boxed; served in the Army and graduated from Columbia University.

Once, while working on a report about skydiving for "Sports Page" Hackleman decided on the spur of the moment to jump, too. "He was already long in the tooth, in his 60s, hadn't done it since his Army days but still went up and did it," Robbs said.

John, who runs an MMA training center known as "The Pit" in Arroyo Grande, Calif., said, "until the last couple of years, he was working out right alongside some of my fighters. Chuck Liddell, the other guys, they loved him."

He is survived by John; a daughter, Susan; and five grandchildren.

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