Blind sports writer Craig Lynch dies at 72

One day in 1982, Craig Lynch walked into the old Sun-Times building on Wabash Avenue and asked Taylor Bell for a job.

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Longtime local reporter Craig Lynch (left) talks with NBC Sports Chicago’s Chuck Garfien in the Wrigley Field pressbox. Lynch died on Tuesday at the age of 72.

Longtime local reporter Craig Lynch (left) talks with NBC Sports Chicago’s Chuck Garfien in the Wrigley Field pressbox. Lynch died on Tuesday at the age of 72.

Provided by Chuck Garfien

One day in 1982, Craig Lynch walked into the old Sun-Times building on Wabash Avenue and asked Taylor Bell for a job.

“He said that some of his friends had heard we were looking for [freelance writers] to cover high school sports,” said Bell, the now-retired Sun-Times prep sports editor.

Bell’s philosophy was to give pretty much any would-be writer a chance. The ones who couldn’t file accurate copy on tight deadlines tended to weed themselves out pretty quickly.

That wasn’t a problem for Lynch, even though he was different from most journalists: He was blind since birth.

But that didn’t stop him. Lynch spent more than 25 years covering prep sports for the Sun-Times, part of a career that saw him become one of the more well-known and well-loved members of the Chicago sports media scene.

Lynch died on Tuesday not long after suffering a stroke. He was 72.

Tributes to Lynch popped up all week on social media from fellow media members and even the Cubs, who said on Twitter: “The Cubs mourn the passing of longtime radio reporter Craig Lynch, who covered the team for over 20 years. Craig was a pleasure to work with and the Wrigley Field press box will not be the same without him.”

Lynch’s work spanned multiple decades and media. In the 1980s and ‘90s, besides his freelance work for the Sun-Times, he was a full-time employee of Triton College. As the sports director of the college’s radio station, he covered a Triton baseball team that featured future MLB players Kirby Puckett and Lance Johnson.

Lynch also covered college sports at Northwestern and DePaul (he went to school with longtime Blue Demons women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno) and filed radio reports on the Cubs for downstate stations.

But his coverage of high school sports may be his most enduring legacy. After leaving the Sun-Times, Lynch continued to work for various suburban outlets.

“He did the job as well as anybody with sight,” Bell said. “He always got the interviews, always got the statistics.”

Bell recalls occasional pushback in the early years. “When he started out, some coaches [said], ‘What’s a blind guy doing covering my game?’” Bell said. “We had to get through it. We got through it.”

“He didn’t want anyone to do him any favors,” Bell added. “[Coaches] soon realized he knew what he was doing.”

So did his colleagues in Chicago’s competitive media environment.

Chuck Garfien, the veteran reporter and anchor for NBC Sports Chicago, first crossed paths with Lynch at a DePaul men’s basketball game in 2005.

“It blew me away,” Garfien said of watching Lynch do his job. “I had to know him. He became a dear friend and someone who affected me deeply. ... I wanted to live my life like him.”

Craig Lynch, left, with Doug Bruno and Tim McKinney, right, was a longtime friend and former classmate of the DePaul women’s basketball coach.

Craig Lynch, left, with Doug Bruno and Tim McKinney, right, was a longtime friend and former classmate of the DePaul women’s basketball coach.

Provided by Tim McKinney

Garfien and other friends recalled Lynch’s unfailingly good nature and quick wit.

He tells a story about Lynch going to a Cubs/Dodgers series in Los Angeles in 1979. A Dodgers fan heckled the Chicagoans, saying, “You’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind to be a Cubs fan,” to which Lynch responded, “Don’t knock the blind.”

Tim McKinney is another colleague who became good friends with Lynch after they kept crossing paths on the prep sports beat. “He was one of the most unique individuals you would know,” said McKinney, who was struck by Lynch’s “sincerity and kindness.”

McKinney helped Lynch around Wrigley Field in recent years and the pair also went to college games and on MLB road trips, where Lynch seemed to know everyone.

One night at Northwestern, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo invited Lynch into the Spartans’ locker room for a chat. In Cincinnati, there was a shoutout from longtime Reds broadcaster Marty Brenneman.

“He was quick-witted,” McKinney said of Lynch. “We would always have a lot of fun and a good laugh.”

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