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Biofile Hank Gola Interview

Status: Journalist for over four decades, primarily covering professional football and golf for the New York Daily News and New York Post after starting his career at The Herald-News of Passaic, NJ, and the Daily Record of Morris County, NJ, where he covered the Cosmos of the North American Soccer League and the New York Giants of the National Football League. His latest book is “City Of Champions”,  the story of the 1939 national championship game of high school football.

Early writing memory: My first assignment for my college paper, 1972, Montclair State at Kutztown State football.

Inspirations: Dave Anderson, Dick Young (for totally different reasons).

First job: Part-time at The Herald-News, Passaic, N.J., 1974, turned into fulltime job as Cosmos beat writer in 1976.

First famous person you met or encountered: Pele.

Greatest moment of career: Accepting the 2018 Lincoln Werden Award (lifetime achievement in golf journalism) from the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association.

Most painful moment of career: Watching Tom Watson’s shot miss the 18th green at Turnberry.

Last book read: Heroes by Ralph Wimbish.

Favorite movies: Unforgiven. Saving Private Ryan. My Dog Skip.

Funny career memory: The Cosmos, upon moving to Giants Stadium in 1977, picked up the cost of suburban New Jersey newspapers to travel with the team and create publicity. Checking in at the team’s hotel in the Bahamas for pre-season training, Eric Mortenson and I were told the hotel was sold out. Coach Eddie Firmani came by and said, “No problem. I’ll send a few of the lads home.” He cut players to give us their rooms. That’s how important the press was to the Cosmos.

Embarrassing career memory: Having my father-in-law’s World War II binoculars stolen from the RFK Stadium press box. Being thrown into a laundry bin by Odessa Turner over my Giants report card.

Favorite interviews: Marty Glickman inside the Berlin Olympic Stadium (1994). Walter Young, for my book, City of Champions. Any interview with George Young or Giorgio Chinaglia.

Most memorable events covered: 1997 Masters. 1999 Ryder Cup. Super Bowl XXI.

Favorite athletes to watch: Jack Nicklaus, Joe Montana, Franz Beckenbauer.

Childhood dream: To be the play-by-play announcer for the Baltimore Orioles.

Favorite ice cream flavor: Graeter’s black raspberry chocolate chip.

Favorite artists: Nat King Cole, Johnny Cash, Rolling Stones.

People qualities most admired: Integrity, honesty, courage.

(Note: Hank Gola was one of the first Metropolitan area sportswriters I ever met – it was at a pro boxing match in Secaucus, NJ in around 1987. Not quite sure, but it may have been a Marvis Frazier fight. We ended up doing an interview that night for a feature in my Kean College newspaper, The Independent. Last week we crossed paths again at Whole Foods in Wayne, NJ and this Biofile resulted from that chance encounter...)

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