Hall of Fame Class of 2014
Fred Hartman, honored in 2014 by his induction into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame, began his newspaper career as a sportswriter and, at heart, always remained one. But to his colleagues and employees, he was much more – a publisher, a newspaper owner, a mentor, a friend.
From the time he was a youngster in Marlin, Texas, Hartman had a passion for sports.
He marveled at the work of legendary sportswriters Grantland Rice and Damon Runyon, and how they brought athletic events to life on the printed pages of newspapers.
Hartman earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Baylor University and served as editor of the student newspaper, The Lariat.
After college, while working at the Goose Creek Sun — which later was renamed the Baytown Sun — he saw how high school sports and a newspaper could bring a community together as he covered the Robert E. Lee High School Ganders.
Hartman was editor of the Sun and became publisher when Carmage Walls, a 2012 inductee into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame, bought the newspaper in 1950. The Baytown Sun was Walls’ first purchase in Texas and Hartman soon became Walls’ point man in the state as Southern Newspapers acquired other papers.
In Baytown, Hartman groomed and mentored a number of newspapermen who went on to become publishers and owners, including Jim Hale, Bob Gilmore, Jim Boone, Jim Nabors, Les Daughtrey, Bill Hartman (his son), Bruce Morrisse, Clyde King, Dwight Moody, Noble Welch, Jerry Strader, Charles Moser, Richard Barton, Leon Brown, John Black, Ernie Zieschang, Mike Probst, Bill Cornwell and Mike Graxiola.
Hartman moved from the Sun in 1974 to become chairman of Southern Newspapers Inc. until his retirement in 1983.
He then started his own newspaper company by purchasing newspapers in Brenham, Rockport, Port Lavaca and Madisonville from Southern.
The Brenham, Rockport and Port Lavaca newspapers eventually were acquired by Hartman’s son, Bill, and grandsons Fred and Lee of Hartman Newspapers L.P. Now in its third generation, the Hartman heritage of community service through newspaper publishing continues.
Fred Hartman founded the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writer’s Association of America and was a press box mainstay through the years with the Houston Buffs, Colt .45s and Astros. He also was known to have broken Major League Baseball’s “no cheering in the press box” rule, occasionally.
Hartman served as president of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association in 1965 and in 1978 was honored as the recipient of the association’s Pat Taggart Award for Newspaper Leader of the Year.
Hartman died in 1991 at age 83. He was married to Betty Hartman and they had two children, Mary Brown and Bill Hartman, and four grandchildren. In 1986 the Baytown Chamber of Commerce named Hartman Man of the Half Century and in 1995 a $100 million 2.6-mile cable bridge on State Highway 146, spanning the Houston Ship Channel to connect Baytown and
La Porte, was opened and named the Fred Hartman Bridge in his honor.
The Fred Hartman Excellence in Sportswriting Award was established by Hartman’s family in 1992 and provides a plaque and cash award to “the best sportswriter in Texas.” Eligibility alternates annually between newspapers over 10,000 and newspapers under 10,000 in circulation. It is presented each summer at the Texas Press Association’s annual awards banquet.