Paul Moran died Saturday, and so fell silent one of horse racing's most eloquent and authoritative voices. He was 66.
After a tour of duty in Vietnam, Moran began his career as a sports writer in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. When he moved to Florida in the 1970s, he focused his attention fully on horse racing, and there it remained for 40 years. His work graced the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, and then, for more than 22 years, Newsday in New York and finally ESPN.com, and he always wrote with a rare fluency and an uncommon intelligence.
The columns and stories themselves can be the only genuine metric of his accomplishments and contributions.
His writing won him many honors, including two Eclipse Awards. But the columns and stories themselves can be the only genuine metric of his accomplishments and contributions. For most of the sport's great moments and great performances over the last four decades, he was there, with a keen perception. To all his work, he brought a deep understanding of the sport and its history. With such a perspective, he could peer through a fog of pretense and publicity to see the real story. He had a mordant wit and could unleash a sardonic cleverness; he could be profoundly entertaining and entertainingly profound, but he always respected the sport and its competitors.
Moran's final column appeared on ESPN.com on Oct. 28, where he comments on the changes he witnessed over his long career, especially changes affecting the sport's place in the culture, some that resulted from horse racing's Hermetically stupid mistakes, but others that were just ineluctable. "Change was heavy with an ill wind that still blows cold," he writes, speaking of the 1970s, but perhaps speaking of much more.
His death was the conclusion of a long battle with cancer. He died in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., close to a racetrack he loved and reportedly surrounded by friends.