Sid Hartman, bronzed, will rank with Father Hennepin and Mary Tyler Moore

Sid Hartman, the 90-year-old eminence grise of Twin Cities sports scribbling, is about to gaze out on Target Field in perpetuity -- in bronze. The Minneapolis Arts Commission gave a green light to a statue of Hartman last night.

All it needs now is formal approval from the Public Works Department, and Sid's likeness by sculptor Nicholas Legeros will go on display on the walkway from First Avenue to the new Twins ballpark.

He's got a nice take on Favre-o-rama and the purple and golden retrievers today, by the way.

If -- more likely, when -- that approval comes down, Hartman will rank with the likes of Father Hennepin, Hubert Humphrey, Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Pucket, Rod Carew, Mary Tyler Moore and Charlie Brown as having his likeness immortalized for all to see. Pioneering Jesuit explorer; presidential candidate; jock legends; television star; cartoon charcter; ink stained wretch. Sure. Why not?

Well, there's the crass commercialization aspect; it'll feature Star Tribune and WCCO Radio logos -- the marks of his employers.

The only objector to the statue on the 16-member panel was another journalist, Tim Gihring. He's the senior editor and arts editor at Minnesota Monthly, and the commission's secretary. He tells MinnPost's David Brauer that he objected to the statue because there was no public input on whether Minneapolitans actually wanted a statue of Hartman, and also because of the corporate logos. (He loves the actual artwork.)

I asked rhetorically whether CBS and the Star Tribune would have commissioned the statue if they didn't think their logos were going to be clearly visible.

It's the same theme he sounded about the Mary Tyler Moore statue on the Nicolet Mall when he was interviewed by Jason DeRusha.

"The rules have changed since Mary Tyler Moore came along to us. It's hard to say whether we would approve something like this now because we look much more closely as what's corporate art, what's advertising."

For Hartman, journalism and raw boosterism have longed mixed. In 2005, the Strib's ombud chided him for helping the University of Minnesota raise $400,000 to fund an eponymous chair -- while Hartmann was covering U sports. Conflict of interest? It hardly matters, we noted:

Why is anyone pretending that Sid Hartman practices objective journalism? Why are Strib poo-bahs pretending that his place on the payroll is anything other than resident booster? In all his years of crusading for stadiums and doomsaying over Title IX, no one has objected to Hartman's arguable lack of neutrality.

Brauer sounded bitter when the news first broke about the Hartman statue back in June, so we asked him today if he had any second thoughts.

"Nope. I stand by my statement that "it does suck a bit that the reporter who sucked up to (or covered up for) the powerful gets the big bronze," Brauer eplied via e-mail. "That said, since that first post, I've heard from a lot of folks (not Sid's close personal friends or the rich and powerful) who seem to be willing to give Sid his ferrous due based on length of service and cultural impact, so I haven't hammered the point in subsequent posts. And I do think the sculpture, whatever the merits of its subject, really does capture the guy. Thank God it's not like Kirby."

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