Remembering Tim Moriarty

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On Jan. 23, Moriarty, the longtime Islanders beat writer for Newsday, died after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 82.

A Rockville Centre resident since 1959, Moriarty began his career with Newsday in 1965. He wrote six books as well, two on the Islanders and others on goalie Gump Worsely, forward Vic Hadfield, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Phil and Tony Esposito. Moriarty was not only president of the National Hockey League Writers Association, but also a member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Selection Committee. During Moriarty's nearly 20 years with Newsday, he also had the opportunity to cover most of Muhammad Ali's fights, but as one of the original reporters who covered the Islanders, his true passion was always hockey. "Having followed the Islanders from their infancy through their dynasty, he had a lot of great stories to tell," said Chris Botta, the team's vice president of communications.

Moriarty began writing about the Islanders in 1972, when the team was struggling to find itself. "The first couple of years we had a pretty dismal record," said Gerry Hart, a former Islanders defenseman. "Contrary to most media people that focus on the negative, Tim always found the silver lining in everything we did. He really understood we were a bunch of young guys who worked hard every night and didn't always get the results we were looking for."

The manner in which Moriarty wrote will never be forgotten. "Tim was meticulous, he was thorough, he was very shrewd in obtaining information and through all of that [he] was held in the utmost regard by the people he covered and his peers," said Pat Calabria, a former colleague at Newsday who is now the head of media relations at SUNY-Stony Brook.

Those defining characteristics earned Moriarty the approval of the athletes he wrote about. "The players had such respect for him, and he had such respect for the players, he became part of the family," said son Brian.

As far as the members of early Islanders teams were concerned, Moriarty was their pal before anything else. According to Brian, one of his father's fondest memories was when Bob Nystrom scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1980, earning the Islanders their first NHL championship.

"That moment had to be a big thing [for Moriarty]," said Clark Gillies, former Islanders left winger.

Gillies and the rest of the team were happy to see Moriarty share their joy through the Stanley Cup years. "He was a welcome part of our social circle-he was a guy that we invited out to dinner with us," said Hart. "He was somebody that we could trust, confide in and know that things that didn't belong in the newspaper didn't end up in the newspaper."

Gillies agreed. "He reported it just as you told it to him," he said. "Initially, you really took a liking to him."

Among his colleagues, Moriarty was greatly admired. "Tim really helped mentor me and educate me about how best to cover hockey," said Calabria.

Moriarty was more than eager to help cub reporters get their feet wet. "Whenever he could help anyone, he did," said his widow, Laurie.

"It is people like Tim and his writing that made me want to get into this business," said Botta. "Everything he did was with integrity and class. He was fair in his criticism and in his praise as well."

According to those who knew him, Moriarty's sincerity carried over from his professional life into his personal life. "I'm not aware of anybody who ever had a remotely bad thing to say about the man," Botta said. "He was known for being a gentleman in his work, but I also know first-hand, in having many mutual friends in the business and some outside the business, he was known for being one of the most gentlemanly people you'd ever meet in any walk of life." "Tim was one of the most classy people you could ever hope to meet" Calabria said. "I will be forever grateful that I knew Tim Moriarty."

The journalist was highly regarded in Rockville Centre as well. "He was one of the most gracious, kind, thoughtful, fun-to-be-with persons we knew," said Sue Oppenheimer, who once lived on Princeton Road, near Moriarty. "He had a wonderful, wonderful sense of humor and always had a smile on his face, even when he was so sick."

Above and beyond everything else, his family said, Moriarty was a loyal husband, a loving father and a caring grandfather. "He was a marvelous husband, fantastic, 59 years I had him," said Laurie, whose devotion to her husband during his illness illustrated the meaning of "till death do us part."

As a father, according to Brian, Moriarty was in a league of his own. "He was a special person. When he came home to us, he was Dad," Brian said. "He never made a big deal about what a big deal he was-it was always about family."

Brian recalled his father playing tennis at Malibu Beach Club during the offseason, and chatting with friends in Row A even after he retired and his illness no longer allowed him to be as active as he once was. "He would go down there and his face would just light up," said Brian. "That's what he really enjoyed."

Those who were touched by Moriarty came to pay their respects and show their support of his family at last Thursday's wake and Friday's funeral mass. "[It was] such an outpouring of love and caring about him and his family," said Oppenheimer.

Moriarty is survived by his wife and son as well as another son, Kevin, a daughter, Maureen, and eight grandchildren. "He may have been in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he was in a lot of people's hall of fame for being a great person," said Brian. "To us, he was just Pop."

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