April 26, 2012
By Charles Cuttone
It never gets easier
My colleague here at Big Apple Soccer, Michael Lewis, recently wrote about one of the worst parts of the newspaper business. Writing obituaries. Itís usually hard enough to write them about people you don't know, or might have covered or casually met.
It's nearly impossible to stay objective when itís a good friend of more than 35 years. But I know I am objective in saying, if you never read Ike Kuhn's work in the Newark Star-Ledger, you missed out on reading one of the best soccer writers this country has ever known.
Ike was a veritable encyclopedia of the sport, and bridged covering the game from the pre-North American Soccer League days, when hardly anyone paid attention to the sport, through to Major League Soccer. From the early 60's until just last season, Ike was a fixture in soccer and other sport press boxes in the New York area.
His career at the Star-Ledger included covering almost every sport, including serving as the main beat writer covering the Jets for a decade, but he really made his mark and is best remembered for his soccer coverage, for which he was honored by the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2008 with the Colin Jose Media Award.
He covered the 1966 World Cup in England, probably one of the few if not only American to do so, but perhaps he is best known for covering the New York Cosmos and the North American Soccer League. From the pre-Pele days at Randall's Island right through the huge crowds at Giants Stadium, and eventually the club's demise.
That's when I first met Ike, when I was a young PR assistant with the Cosmos. We struck up an almost instant friendship that lasted the better part of four decades. It wasn't just our mutual love of sports, that we could spend hours on the road or in press boxes kibitzing about, it was also our mutual affinity for collecting sports memorabilia--especially publications.
Ike had a World Series program collection that Cooperstown would envy, and he could remember dates and places of games, and also where and when he picked up a particular item.
On the road with the Cosmos, we'd often be seen taking off to find a dusty used book and magazine store in some city, or maybe a minor league baseball game on an off day.
Ike would tell stories of some minor league baseball game he had seen years earlier and remember plays and players like it was that day. Though the road trips pretty much ended when the Cosmos did, the conversations continued on for a few more decades, in press boxes of the New Jersey Eagles, and Penn-Jersey Spirit, and international games and then most recently at Red Bulls games. If I was at a soccer game in the New York area, Ike was almost assuredly there as well.
The next time I walk into Red Bull Arena, it just won't be the same.