Former long-time Pioneer Press sports columnist Don Riley dies


New Year's Eve brought the loss of a long time Twin Cities sports columnist.

Don Riley, a former sports columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, died of a heart ailment at the age of 92 at his home in Maplewood.

The Pioneer Press notes that Riley worked at the news paper for 44 years before he retired in 1987. Riley was known for his witty and often times humorous sports column that he wrote for more than three decades.

He wrote for the Pioneer Press, but Riley earned the respect from many in the Twin Cities sports community. Here is what the Star Tribune's Patrick Reusse wrote about Riley in a November of 1998 column:

"The name's Don Riley.

He went from Roosevelt High in Minneapolis to the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1943 and worked there for the next 45 years. His column, The Eye Opener, was the staple of St. Paul's morning newspaper for three decades.

If some information found its way into The Eye Opener, that was OK, but Riley's goal was to make readers laugh."

In 2010, Riley was inducted into the Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame. His Hall of Fame bio calls Riley one of the best fight writers of the 20th Century.

"He could be a manager's best friend in terms of publicity, or worst nightmare in terms of public chastisement; but for fans of fisticuffs, he was always the agent that worked tirelessly to set the stage for mega fights. It usually worked."

In the years after his retirement, the Pioneer Press notes Riley also became known for his work on the book "Gallivan's Gang, " which was a book about the hilarious exploits of he, some friends and a few botched get-rich-quick schemes.

Funeral arrangements for Riley are pending.

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