More Obituaries for Mike Celizic
Looking for an obituary for a different person with this name?

Mike Celizic

Obituary Condolences

Friends fondly remember writer

Mike Celizic as a man of many hats

Mike Celizic, a former Record journalist who covered World Series, Super Bowls, Olympics, Final Fours and Stanley Cup Finals with his trademark hat firmly in place, died Wednesday. He was 62.

Mr. Celizic, a sports columnist from 1983 to 1997, had T-cell lymphoma.

"Mike was not a sportswriter because he was so enamored of sports; he was a great reporter who just happened to write about sports," said Bill Pennington, a fellow Record sports columnist now at The New York Times.

The native Ohioan worked briefly on The Record's news side before finding his niche as a bearded, nattily attired observer of the sports scene. He established himself as a dogged reporter who turned out sparkling prose on merciless deadlines, and his opinions were distinctive.

"If you got five sports columnists together, Mike would have the opinion no one else would think of," Pennington said.

"As talented a writer that Mike was, his biggest attribute was his ability to relate to what the reader was thinking," said John Rowe, a veteran Record sports editor. "Reading him, at times, was like listening to the office water cooler conversations sports fans engage in."

Readers knew Mr. Celizic as much for what he wore on his head as for what he wrote in the paper. The logo that accompanied his column showed him in a wide-brimmed hat. The headgear, and logo, changed with the season ï¾- a dark-colored fedora in football weather, a light-colored Panama hat for the summer game.

"He wore hats as often as he did because he knew they would make him recognizable," Pennington said. "It was a ploy. He knew when he went into the locker rooms, players would remember him."

Mr. Celizic was especially fond of hockey, and after the Devils won their first Stanley Cup in 1995, the columnist wrote this:

"I have one rule about my hat, and it's not complicated. It stays on.

"But today, my hat's off to the Devils.

"It's off to a team that supposedly had no superstars and so was not supposed to win. But the Devils showed that when 25 players give up their individual goals and commit to a team goal with all their hearts, they are better than any superstar."

Mr. Celizic could be found at places other than hockey arenas and football stadiums. In March 1994, he was at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. He traveled to the strife-torn Middle East to report on a topic far different than sports.

"All around the old man, the men of Zion danced and sang at Judaism's most sacred site," Mr. Celizic wrote.

"There were several hundred of them, all dressed in black, in a ring ï¾- an unbroken circle of prayer. The ring took up the length of the Western Wall that towered above them. And in the middle, his white robes and hat and flowing beard making him like a snowflake on the back of a crow, the old man whirled and sang and thrust a pair of shofars, the ram's-horn trumpets of Israel, into the air.

"Two weeks earlier, Jews had been stoned by Muslims in the courtyard in front of the Western Wall. One week earlier, they had been prevented from approaching the wall by the Jerusalem police, who had feared another stoning & For 1,900 years, until 1967, when the Jews recaptured Old Jerusalem, Jews had been unable to approach the Western Wall. That they would be prevented again was inconceivable, an evil that could not be allowed to happen."

Mr. Celizic also was the author of several books, including "The Biggest Game of Them All: Notre Dame, Michigan State and the Fall of 1966," about the college football season that led to the Nov. 19, 1966, showdown between the undefeated Fighting Irish and Spartans, Nos. 1 and 2 in the national rankings. Mr. Celizic was a Notre Dame freshman that fall and presumably cheered when the Irish prevailed.

His unpublished crime novel, "Another Day in Paradise," follows the exploits of a reporter-turned-private eye on the trail of a stolen ruby. A friend of Mr. Celizic hopes to get the book in print.

Most recently, Mr. Celizic wrote for and

His cancer, diagnosed 14 months ago, went into remission in May but "came roaring back" ï¾– his words ï¾- in July. Mr. Celizic checked out of Manhattan's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in August to spend his final days at home in Warwick, N.Y. On, he described getting ready for a visit from friends.

"I was so weak it took an hour to take what should have been a five-minute shower and get dressed," he wrote. "My wife, Margaret, probably thought her dear hubby had finally jumped the shark when I showed up in the white linen three-piece suit I had had made in China two years ago. I added a gold watch and my signature white hat and was ready to greet folks who came up in shorts and T-shirts.

"Margaret never said a word as she helped me get dressed, but I felt she needed an explanation. & It took me about five minutes to explain ï¾- not because it was complicated, but because when I realized why I dressed that way, I just lost it. ï¾'I don't know how many more chances I'm going to have to be Mike Celizic,' I finally managed to say. &"

Mr. Celizic is survived by his wife, Margaret Sinnott; his children, Carl, James, Jane and Zachary, and a brother, Charles.

Services will be private. Arrangements are by Lazear-Smith & Vander Plaat Memorial Home, Warwick.

E-mail: [email protected]
Published in The Record/Herald News on Sept. 23, 2010
Read More
More Information