Michael J. Hyland would have enjoyed living in Richmond in 2014. The city’s new-found status as a cycling mecca would have delighted the man whose preferred mode of urban transportation was a stodgy, battered bicycle.
So fond was Mr. Hyland of his bicycle that he invariably locked it securely upon reaching his destination — even though no self-respecting thief would have given the dilapidated two-wheeler a second glance.
Mr. Hyland’s ride ended Sunday. The veteran of nearly 30 years as a sports reporter with Richmond’s daily newspapers, The News Leader and The Times-Dispatch, died in Valencia, Calif., after a battle with ALS. He was 77.
Friends and acquaintances recalled Mr. Hyland as a holdover from a bygone era: a kind and delightfully quirky man who was as memorable as the athletes and coaches about whom he wrote.
His son, Phil, described him with a single word: eclectic.
“He marched to a different beat,” Phil said. “How many other reporters have covered a golf tournament by riding down the fairway on a bicycle? He used to cover the (Richmond Newspapers) marathon on his bicycle. He said it was the best way to stay in direct contact with the leaders.”
Before retiring, Mr. Hyland also covered high school and college sports, swimming, auto racing, ice hockey and Richmond Kickers soccer.
Former Times-Dispatch and News Leader sports editor Jack Berninger said Mr. Hyland was “one of a kind — a genuinely nice guy who never said or penned an unkind word about anyone.” Berninger said Mr. Hyland “was devoted to local coverage and had an unfailing memory for facts, figures and names — going back, even, to times before he arrived in Richmond.”
Golf and words were Mr. Hyland’s twin passions. He looked for the unique in both.
“He loved to write colorfully,” Phil said. “If a deer walked out of the woods and across the green and delayed play for a couple of minutes, Dad was going to write about that. He wanted to bring the moment to life for his readers. He wanted them to see what he had seen.“
Mr. Hyland was honored in 1993 with the Earle Hellen Sports Media Award for golf coverage in the PGA’s Middle Atlantic section.
Mr. Hyland, a native of Staten Island. N.Y., graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1957. Though erudite and well-read, he was a bit of an Irish rogue. Phil said his father first introduced him to around-the-green golf “by taking me to a cemetery” behind the family home on Staten Island. “That’s where he showed me how to hit chip shots.” The objective, Phil said, was to learn the proper grip, achieve the proper touch and not hit the headstones.
Survivors include Mr. Hyland’s sons, Phil and Matthew, and brothers Peter and Stephen. Mr. Hyland will be buried in Penn Yan, N.Y.