By Scoop Malinowski
For five decades, Bob Trainor stood shoulder to shoulder with all the titans of sport… Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Phil Simms, Lawrence Taylor, Bill Parcells, George Steinbrenner, Reggie Jackson, Dwight Gooden, Daryl Strawberry, Barry Bonds, Patrick Ewing, Derek Jeter, Lennox Lewis, Bob Baffert, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Ray Leonard, Bernard King, Michael Jordan have all spoken words and thoughts into Bob Trainor’s microphone.
If you were a part of the New York sports media, you eventually met Bob and felt his warmth, friendship, wit and professionalism. Trainor’s role was simple – with his recorder he collected quotes from professional athletes post-game and then distributed them to his various outlets. It’s hard to think of anyone who loved his job more. He probably watched 10,000 games in his career.
If Bob had any enemies, I’d be shocked. Of all the countless hours working in press rooms and boxes with Bob seemingly always there too, I can’t remember him ever being involved in any kind of dispute or argument with anyone. Bob made covering sports even more fun with his upbeat, funny, quick-witted nature. He told memorable stories. He was in Madison Square Garden the night in 1977 when Ali revealed to the press that Earnie Shavers’ punches made him hear “bells and whistles.” Bob was there at a Lennox Lewis training camp in Poconos when the Heavyweight champion of the world was talking with reporters and one question must have irked Lennox, who then sarcastically asked, “Are you a trainer?” Without missing a beat, Bob replied, “Yes I am.” Classic Bob.
So I dedicate this feature to one of the profoundly good guys in the New York City sports media universe Bob Trainor…
Greg Bouris: The sport industry, especially “The Big Three”, have grown and flourished as a business because of the billions of dollars in free exposure it receives from the media – large and small. Hard-working people committed to their craft, like Bob, have helped the industry reach unimaginable heights. Kudos to them all and Bob, knowing he was an important cog in the “machine.”
Jay Horwitz: Bob was a great friend. He always had a smile on his face. He was an extremely hard worker who got along great in the clubhouse. We always had a nice chat every time we spoke. Bob was the best.
Billy Sample: To borrow the hockey parlance, I think of Bob as a mucker and a grinder. He goes into the corners and does all of the less glamorous work, but his efforts are so key in getting information from the field to the fans. While I was a player I understood the media’s role in transferring information, but later as a member of the media I really appreciated the efforts; the running from one clubhouse to the other, working on short deadlines, twisting the body into unnatural positions trying to get the microphone close enough to the subject in a big media scrum. Bob has done this for decades and I never heard him complain.
Wallace Matthews: Not sure I have a specific Bob story but he was always helpful and generous to me, especially if he had a good sound clip from the other clubhouse. Terrific guy.
Andrew Rosario: “I did not have a great relationship with Bob. I did admire how he went about his work and how he was able to get the highest profile athletes of the times to respond to his questions.”
Pat Harris: Bob Trainor was a warm, caring and giving person. I don’t remember the first day I ever met him. All I know is when I think back to the fun I had covering sporting events he was always there. I can’t even count how many times we sat through Yankee and Met games together or how many times we spent afternoons at The Meadowlands covering Giants practice or all the big fights and all the press conferences we attended. I remember taking the Amtrak with him to Baltimore to see Sugar Ray Leonard’s retirement ceremony and the adventure we had coming back from Easton, Pennsylvania after spending the day visiting Larry Holmes at his home and training center. Our bus broke down on the way back and we flagged down a tour bus that was on it’s way to Staten Island. We wound up taking some mode of transportation to get to the Staten Island Ferry… took that to Manhattan and then took the train to MSG to cover a Ranger game. What a day. Thanks for your friendship and for all the enjoyable times we shared. The pics below show Bob in the Dodgers locker room after the 1981 World Series, With Michael Jordan, Oscar De La Hoya and Reggie Jackson.
Michael Kay: Bob Trainor was part of the fabric of New York sports.
Ira Schwartz: My brother and I gave him tons of rides home from Yankee Stadium.
Bruce Bennett: Heard the name “Bob Trainor” but don’t know who that is.
Bryan Harris: Bob was a steady, reliable presence at every event I worked in New York City. Hard working, a real pro, always thankful and courteous.
Doc Stanley: Always even keel and to the point. No nonsense and a true professional. Like James Brown, ”the hardest working man in radio,’ in his case. In fact he started out writing for a Black publication. The ‘Black Journal American’ newspaper. I used to call him”Mr. Know” because he knew when and where all the media press conferences were, when and of what sports and the athletes that would attend and time and place. His microphone or him could always been seen in photos from press conferences. With him then rushing off to get the information on air as soon as possible. So many media outlets depended on him and needed his work which was always first class to get out to the masses and to New York, America and the world.
As it just hit me and while I was just thinking about it… Bob indirectly got me into the BWAA, of course through GOD using him. As par for the course he informed me about a press conference at the legendary Gallagher’s Steakhouse. In this case, he told me he didn’t know all the details but a presser was happening. The events there led me to becoming the first Black member of the BWAA under the Barney Nagler regime.
His name evokes times of great sports events, moments and cherished memories. Especially at a time when the Garden was the nerve center of the world and American sports. Legends like the late great John Francis Xavier Condon, boxing’s and MSG’s greatest PR man, and also my godfather in life and sports was running MSG boxing. Harold Weston Jr., the first and only Black-match maker. And the sport world was vibrating.
And the Knicks were winning, the Big East tournament was founded. The Mets with Gooden, Strawberry, HoJo and Davey Johnson owned the town baseball-wise.
Yet the Yankees had baseball greats, Don ”Donnie Baseball” Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Dave Righetti and later the golden armed Jesse Barfield. Evolving after the departure of Reggie, Munson, Nettles, Randolph and crew losing the city to the Mets.
Bob Trainor was a central and important figure in the media radio world. And he was a radio friend too. I will always remember. He once told a person – who was under my tutelage in entering the media world – that they couldn’t be taught by a better person than me. Said it in a direct and matter of fact way. Bob Trainor… a friend, a media brother.