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Archive for Thursday, October 26, 2000

KU alumnus had questions for everyone

Sudden death of CBS Sportsline reporter shocking to colleagues

October 26, 2000

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I never asked Steve Schoenfeld if he customarily called someone just before he went to sleep or began dialing his cell phone right after he arose in the morning.

I'm sure he did, though.

Schoenfeld would call me while he was eating breakfast. He would phone me from airports, arenas, stadiums. Once last summer he even called me while he was vacationing in Vancouver.

Those of us in the sports writing fraternity who knew Schoenfeld and many who didn't had at least heard of him always wondered if his annual phone bill was higher than the gross national product of Gambia.

I don't know which carrier Schoenfeld used for his long-distance service, but I'm sure its stock will drop after posting lower than expected fourth-quarter earnings.

Steve Schoenfeld, 45, died Tuesday night in Tempe, Ariz. He was struck by a hit-and-run driver. I don't know if he was using his cell phone at the time, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Most of the time Schoenfeld called the Journal-World to talk about Kansas University sports, or about KU products who were playing in the NFL. And we were just the tip of his phone-call iceberg.

A 1977 KU grad, Schoenfeld had covered the National Football League for newspapers in Tulsa, Dallas and Phoenix for years. A few months ago, he went to work for CBS Sportsline as its Phoenix-Tucson area writer.

"He was one of our best sports reporters," said Susanne Shaw, a long-time KU professor of journalism. "He used to make Ted Owens mad. In fact, Ted Owens couldn't stand him."

To tell the truth, neither could Bud Moore, then the Jayhawks' head football coach. As a student, Schoenfeld was a stringer for the Kansas City Star. Once when Schoenfeld wasn't there after practice, Moore mimicked him in front of the other writers. It was not a case of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery.

Schoenfeld didn't badger coaches. He just asked them question after question after question after question which is what reporters are supposed to do. When others ran out of questions, Schoenfeld always had more.

A native of Overland Park and a Shawnee Mission East grad, Schoenfeld went out of his way over the years to attend Kansas University sports events while assigned to a pro football game.

He was never happier than when the Chiefs were going great guns because that meant he could justify covering a KC game while checking out the Jayhawks at the same time.

Schoenfeld covered last Sunday's Chiefs-Rams game in Arrowhead Stadium. Do I need to tell you where he was the day before?

You guessed it. He was at Memorial Stadium for the Kansas-Colorado football game. Bought a ticket and everything.

Before the kickoff, though, he was in the press box jollying with all of his friends in the Kansas media. Schoenfeld had, of course, talked his way into the press box.

That's the last time I visited with Schoenfeld and, to be honest, I don't remember what we talked about.

Assistant sports editor Gary Bedore talked to him by phone on Tuesday afternoon, apparently just a few hours before Schoenfeld stepped into a four-lane road on the Arizona State campus, was struck by a car and killed.

We still don't believe it.

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