by Tim Wharnsby
Rick Fraser wrote about boxing, golf and hockey. But his labour of love was life itself. He was the life of the party, whether it was in the newsroom, a pressroom or a piano lounge.
In more than 40 years of journalism, Fraser covered athletes and characters in the sporting world from Arnold Palmer to Jack Nicklaus to Sugar Ray Leonard to Shawn O’Sullivan to Harold Ballard and John Brophy.
“He was one of the nicest men I’ve ever met,” Brophy said. “He was just a great guy.”
Known as The Fraz, his journalism career began in his beloved and native Cape Breton and he later covered sports for the Barrie Examiner, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Toronto Sun. He often told the story about how he became a reporter.
“I was a teenager and my older brother got me a job in a coal mine,” he said. “The first day on the job I asked him where, in relation to the town, we were underground. He said, ‘You know where the general store is? Well, we’re about a mile from that, under the ocean.’ I put down my shovel and ran to the nearest exit. I never looked back and never went underground again.”
Ironically a few years later, Fraser covered the Springhill mine disaster.
Fraser has been inducted to both the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame and Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. But if there was one event the Dean of Canadian golf writers enjoyed covering the most, it was the Masters.
“Everyone should experience the Masters at least once in their lives,” said Fraser, who made the pilgrimage to Augusta for 18 consecutive springs. “It’s truly what the game is all about.”
Fraser passed away at age 65 on Feb. 15, 2000. He was survived by his wife Gloria, daughters Maureen Taylor and Kim Hooper as well as sons Gary and Rick Jr. and seven grandchildren.