The Life of Dan Cook – A Fearless Sportscaster


Dan Cook was a true Texan icon in sports journalism and broadcasting. For over 50 years, Dan brought life to the sports pages and airwaves. He worked as a sportswriter for the San Antonio Express-News for 51 years. Cook has made a reputation for himself, and he was even described as a sports icon. Aside from being a writer, Cook was also a sports anchor at a San Antonio TV station, which was also owned by the San Antonio Express-News from 1956 to 2000. In this article, we are going to know more about the life of this legendary sportscaster.

Early Life and Career

Born in Houston, Texas, on August 12, 1926, Dan Cook was the son of Daniel John Cook, Sr., and Mary Cook. He attended St. Thomas High School, where he showed excellent skills in sports. When he finished high school, Cook studied at the University of Houston for two years. And when he turned seventeen years old, Cook decided to work at the Houston Post, where he earned about $25 a week. He worked there for five years, and after that, he worked in Beaumont for three years, where he wrote for the Enterprise.

In 1950, he met a girl, Katherine Elliott, in Beaumont. They got into a relationship and got married on November 24, 1952. After their marriage, the couple immediately moved to San Antonio, where Dan Cook got a job as a writer and copy editor for the San Antonio Express-News.

Journalism Career

San Antonio Express-News logo

Dan’s journey in journalism started on August 14, 1952, at the San Antonio Express-News. His career was nothing short of spectacular, filled with interviews with sports legends like Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Paul “Bear” Bryant, and Tom Landry. Dan wasn’t just a sports writer – he was a storyteller who brought his unique humor and honesty to every piece.

In an interview, Dan Cook said that he had originally planned to use San Antonio as a stepping stone to start his sports journalism career, and after that, he will move on to a bigger market. However, Cook soon grew fond of the Alamo City, and his job at the San Antonio Express-News began his fifty-one-year career as a sports journalist for the said newspaper. Dan could have gone big and become a syndicated columnist in Chicago, but his heart was with the people of San Antonio. He understood the special bond he had with his audience, a bond he knew was one-of-a-kind.

In 1956, aside from being a journalist and writer, Cook also became a sportscaster for KENS-TV, a TV station that is also owned by the San Antonio Express-News. Since then, he built his reputation and became KENS-TV’s first primetime sportscaster, serving as its sports anchor until 2000.

Dan Cook was known for his no-nonsense and fearless style of reporting. He quickly became, as Express-News colleagues like to say, “a San Antonio institution.” He garnered respect from his readers and peers beyond South Texas all the way to national circles. His first sports column in the Express-News was published on November 29, 1956, and from then on, it began a run of more than 10,000 columns that traversed for almost six decades. His style was a mix of macho and fatherly advice wrapped up in a folksy charm that made him a household name in South Texas.

From 1960 to 1975, Dan Cook served as San Antonio Express-News’ executive sports editor. At some point, he refused a chance to be a syndicated columnist in Chicago so that he could stay in his beloved San Antonio.

Over the years, Cook managed to maintain a fantastic output and schedule. In fact, during the 1970s, Cook served as Express-News sports editor while writing six columns a week, anchored television sportscasts at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., recorded two daily radio commentaries, and served as president of the Texas Sportswriters Association. On top of that, he also owned a bar in San Antonio called Dan Cook’s Time Out.

During his fifty-seven years as a sports news writer, Cook interviewed a handful of sports legends such as Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, and Muhammad Ali. Cook was present in twenty-six Super Bowls, baseball series, several basketball finals, major boxing matches, as well as other national sporting events in his career. In 1995, Cook was awarded the Express-News’s Hearst Eagle Award. The following year, he was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame.

Aside from being a fantastic sportswriter and sportscaster, Cook also started a campaign to save and restore a community center that is located in downtown San Antonio. Dan Cook also began an annual golf tournament as a fundraiser for the restoration. When the project was completed in 2004, the community center was renamed the Dan Cook Youth Center.

Retirement, Death and Legacy

In 2001, the book entitled The Best of Dan Cook: Collected Columns from 1956 to 1990 was published. Two years later, he retired from the Express-News, and his last column in the newspaper was published on August 3, 2003. That same year, the Dan Cook Scholarship for Sports Writing was founded, as well as the Dan Cook Cup, which The Express-News initiated. It is an all-sports award, especially for the San Antonio area high schools.

In July 2008, Dan Cook passed away after a long illness. He was 81 years old, and he was survived by his wife Katy, two daughters named Alice and Marie, and a son named Danny. His friend and Express-News columnist David Flores hailed Cook as one of the last great sportswriters of his generation.

Even after his passing, the tales of Dan Cook and his stories remain as legendary as the man himself. Friends like Blackie Sherrod of the Dallas Morning News recall Dan as part of a breed of sportswriters who lived for the thrill of the game and the stories that followed. Dan was a key figure in the “Geezers Club,” a group of newspaper greats, proving that his impact stretched far beyond San Antonio.

Dan Cook’s legacy is not just in his writing but in the way he connected with his readers and viewers, becoming a true legend in the world of sports journalism.

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