Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: As a Matter of Fact

Sports cartoonists are sort of the middle child of the ink-stained fraternity. Everyone loves the guys from the funny pages, and editorial cartoonists have the respect of newspaper readers. But what of those other guys -- the sports cartoonists? Both they and their entire genre are all but forgotten. Ask the average cartooning fan to name some, and they'll probably get stuck after one or two. Willard Mullin .... uh ... Pap .... um .... Many of our favorite cartoonists dabbled in sports for awhile, but for those who stuck with that genre for their entire career, their lives mostly have gone undocumented in cartooning references.

Take Bob Coyne, for instance. He did sports cartoons for 40-some years in several Boston papers, and he had a pleasant if not terribly glamorous style. He chronicled all the great Boston sports teams from the 1920s into the 70s, and was, I presume, beloved of sports page readers in Beantown in his day. But today if his name was the answer to a cartooning trivia question, we'd all shout, "Unfair -- NO ONE has heard of that guy!"

Anyhow, enough maudlin sentimentalizing. In addition to Bob Coyne's regular sports cartoons in the Boston Post, in the late 20s and early 30's he did this daily sports-oriented Believe It or Not-type feature titled As a Matter of Fact. There doesn't appear to have ever been an attempt to syndicate it, though maybe I'm wrong since they did bother to adorn each one with a copyright symbol. Coyne did a really good job of picking his oddball facts, hitting all the major sports regularly and plenty of the minor ones. And his factoids are entertaining, too, not just a boring recitation of batting averages, rebounds and rushing yards.

I don't know how long Coyne stuck with this feature. My samples are all from 1929-30, but for all I know it might have run for quite awhile. I did do quite a bit of spot-indexing of the Boston Post, but somehow must have glossed over this diminutive feature.


Harold Victor "Bob" Coyne was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on August 22, 1898. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census he was the fifth child of Michael and Annie, both Irish immigrants who arrived in 1884. The family lived at 7 Vine Place in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Ten years later the Coyne family had added three more children; they lived at 59 Vine Street. Harold signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918; he was a student at "Holy Cross College" [College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts].

In the 1920 census, the Coynes lived at 59 Preston Road; Harold was an artist working at an engraving company. In the late 1920s Harold signed his cartoons, "Bob Coyne".

Harold married Helen in 1929 according to the 1930 census. The couple lived at 250 Brattle Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His occupation was cartoonist at a newspaper.

Coyne passed away on October 3, 1976. Many newspapers used the Associated Press report.

Harold V. "Bob" Coyne Dies; Boston Sports Cartoonist

Harold V. "Bob" Coyne, of Cambridge, whose sports cartoons adorned
Boston newspapers for 47 years, died Monday at a nursing home after
a long illness. He was 78.

Coyne, who covered a broad spectrum of sports, produced 15,000 pen
and ink drawings, some of them ultimately going to Baseball's Hall of
Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., others prized by individuals as gifts.

His first newspaper job was with The Boston Globe, but he soon moved
to the Boston Post where his work won him the job of sports cartoonist
in 1928.

In 1955, Coyne came to the old Boston Record where he produced
more than 5,000 cartoons. He retired in May 1975 from the Boston
Herald American and Sunday Herald Advertiser.

He was a Cambridge native who showed an early talent and love for
sports, especially baseball and football.

Coyne leaves his widow, Helen; two brothers and a sister.

A funeral mass was planned Thursday morning at Sacred Heart
Church in Watertown, with burial in Westview Cemetery in Lexington.
Loved Bob Coyne as a kid in Ma. =and collected a lot of his cartoons. I still have many cartoons along with Gene Macks'
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]