Sports Writer John Crittenden, 69, Dies

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(AP) John Crittenden, a sports writer for more than four decades in South Florida and a recipient of several writing awards, died Wednesday at 69.

Crittenden was chosen for the Florida Sports Writers Association’s outstanding writer award four times, plus was the 1970 recipient of a Headliner Award given to the nation’s top sports journalist. He spent the last nine years of his career covering horse racing for The Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach.

“He was a horseman’s horseman,” trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. told the newspaper on Wednesday. “He understood the sport. He wrote about it as we lived it. I don’t know of anyone who covered the sport better than he did.”

Crittenden wrote a book, Hialeah Park: A Racing Legend, about horse racing in 1989. In the book, he called the track “a Camelot with betting windows.”

He died at Baptist Hospital. Family members said he had been in a coma for about two weeks after undergoing abdominal surgery. His last story appeared in the Post on July 8.

He covered 18 Super Bowls. He knew Cassius Clay’s boxing prowess long before the fighter changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

“Everybody in the business, all over the country, knew what a fine writer John was,” Miami Herald columnist Edwin Pope told the Post. “He always was very inventive, simple, and direct and effective.”

Survivors include daughter Jenny McLaughlin and son Jack Crittenden, both of Miami. There will be no funeral. His ashes will be placed in the family’s plot in Virginia, McLaughlin said.

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