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Legendary NJ newspapermen recall Baglivo

Ex-Newark Evening News political reporter died on Friday at age 91.

By David Wildstein, December 15 2018 4:39 pm

Some legends of New Jersey journalism today remembered the life of Andy Baglivo, who was one of the state’s most widely-read political reporters between 1950 and 1972 when he worked for the Newark Evening News.

Baglivo passed away on Friday at age 91.

For me it’s a great personal loss. We were colleagues — and more important — great friends since the late 1950’s. We covered New Jersey politics, me from Trenton, Andy from Newark, and were a hell of a good team,” said John J. Farmer, Sr., a Newark News colleague. “With Andy now gone and Joe Katz before him and Dawes Thompson before that it’s getting pretty lonely out here for folks my age. I’ll be 90 this year so odds are it’s going to get even lonelier.”

The Newark News folded in 1972.  Baglivo went to work for Gov. William Cahill and Farmer moved to the Star-Ledger, where he retired as the Star-Ledger editorial page editor.  Katz, who died in June, left the newspaper to help run Richard Hughes’ campaign for governor and later built a successful lobbying business.  Thompson died in 2008.

“Andy and I remembered when we were newspaper men and proud to the called that and talked about it a lot. Alas, that was before we were all folded into the ‘Media,’ ac cursed word. I still write a bit about this sad world of ours — a column a month, sometimes two — and used to talk over topics now and then with Andy,” Farmer wrote in an e-mail circulated among friends of Baglivo.  “As ever, he was a biting but incisive critic. I welcomed his advice.

“I’ll miss Andy sorely,” Farmer said.  “I loved the guy.”

John Kolesar, who turned 92 today, said he first met Baglivo on the softball diamond at Rutgers in 1947, when they both played in the first round of an intramural tournament.

“He pitched for Lambda Chi fraternity and I played second base for the unaffiliated freshmen. He pitched rockets and gave up only one hit in four games.” Kolesar said.  “I got that hit, a junky blooper over the first baseman’s head that died 10 feet past the bag.

Kolesar started covering New Jersey politics for the Associated Press in the 1950’s.

“We did not register that meeting until almost 70 years later when in one of our poker games he mentioned the disgusting blemish on his no-hitter,” said Kolesar.  I realized that he was the unidentified 16-0 winner of that game. I turned to Andy — who always sat next me in the poker games — and said, ‘That was you?’”

“He turned to me and replied, ‘That was you?’: Kolesar recalled.  “Despite that opening, our friendship is one of my most treasured memories. It was a privilege to be able to call him a friend, a good friend.”

Retired Star-Ledger reporter Dan Weissman said he remembered Baglivo “as a sage.”

“When I first arrived in Trenton, it was clear to me from the first day that I could always rely on Andy when I needed something,   He was always a true gentleman and friend, helping me with all I had to do for the Legislative Correspondent’s Club dinner and roast,” said Weissman. “In all the years I knew him, Andy was always available. I never knew him as a newsman, but it was always clear how good a reporter and writer he was.”

Leon Zimmerman, a reporter for the Bergen Evening News (now The Record) in the early 1960’s and later a prominent lobbyist, called Baglivo “a special person and had a tremendous life and career.”

“A Legislative Correspondents show without Andy would not be a Legislative Correspondents show,” said Harvey Fisher, who began working as a reporter for the Daily Home News (now the Home News Tribune) in the 1960’s.  Even long after his media days were over, I always had the impression his heart was with the press.

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2 thoughts on “Legendary NJ newspapermen recall Baglivo

  1. “Andy was tireless and tough as stage manager for the Correspondents Club show . He enforced the culture of roasting the pols with humor without being hurtful. He was a classy guy and a good family man.”

  2. Friends and respect had no barriers with Andy. Did’t know him as well as others, but the little I did was volumes in terms of dedication and love of his friends and New Jersey.

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