Bud Furillo hired Mitch Chortkoff onto the Herald-Examiner sports desk more than forty years ago. At Chortkoff's current print home in the weekly Santa Monica Mirror, he praises Furillo as a mentor and boss and talks about the Herald's tactics for trying to outperform the larger staff of higher-paid scribes at the Los Angeles Times.
We were too young to appreciate some of Furillo's methods, but as the years went on and our careers took shape the appreciation grew for what he did for us.
Specifically, it was about what to do. Get the story, and if a rival (often the Times) got it first then take it away from them the second day by finding a new development. Some of our best reporting came after another paper had the story first.
We weren't paid as well as the Times staff, but a lot of people said we had the better sports section. It was lively because of Furillo's leadership. If you read the Herald you knew what was going on with the LA teams. It wasn't just a job, it was a way of life. We worked in the office in downtown LA, had parties at Furillo's Downey home, attended sports events together. One year Furillo invited us over for a staff Christmas party but became occupied with a bowl game on television. Several of us commented that he was ignoring his guests.
“Just wait,” he said. “You'll see why.”
The game ended and Furillo grinned broadly. He had bet on the game and won, and that's how he gave us Christmas bonuses. It didn't come from the newspaper's management. It came from him.
Furillo's rules for covering sports were simple, he says: Get the story, be fair, become a guy the players respect even if they don't agree with everything you write, make your deadlines. Steve Bisheff at the Orange County Register is promoting the idea of naming the Coliseum press box for Furillo.