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‘Magnetic personality’: Longtime sports writer, Daily Cal alum John Crumpacker dies at 67

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Senior Staff

APRIL 19, 2023

Longtime Bay Area sports writer and Daily Cal alumnus John Crumpacker died last week. He was 67.

Crumpacker graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English in 1977. During his time on campus, Crumpacker was very involved with The Daily Californian, serving as sports editor.

Crumpacker’s close friend and former Daily Cal colleague Larry Stone said that Crumpacker was an integral part of the Daily Cal and its sports coverage.

“He’s one of the greats that (have) come out of that environment. And I think he loved the Daily Cal and he loved Cal,” Stone said. “He was one of those guys that everyone he came in contact with remembers him … he just had a magnetic personality.”

One of the things that Crumpacker was known for in the Daily Cal was taking his coverage a step beyond regular beat reporting. He was always looking for the “offbeat” angle, Stone said — “that was the way his mind operated.”

When covering a basketball tournament in Stanford, Crumpacker brought out his tape measure — he wanted to measure the size of the coaching box. Crumpacker wrote a story about the emotions of coaches, especially when they were forced to be confined to a small area, a unique angle on what was otherwise a regular basketball tournament.

“It wasn’t just your normal stuff, he would do offbeat stuff. And that was kind of his trademark,” Stone said. “He was a really good reporter and he could do straight stories, but he loved the offbeat story, and he kind of made his name on that.”

After his time at the Daily Cal, Crumpacker went on to work for the San Francisco Examiner, and then the San Francisco Chronicle. Crumpacker spent his entire career at this paper, making a name for himself in the Bay Area and throughout sports media.

Crumpacker was known for his T-shirt collection, and had hoped to collect 2,000 T-shirts before the year 2000 — a feat he succeeded at. Aside from his journalistic endeavors, he made a name for himself by creating “scribe from hell” T-shirts.

“Just about every sports writer in the country at the time in the 1990s had a ‘scribe from hell’ T-shirt, I think a lot of people remember him for that,” Stone said. “It was just a fun time when John was around.”

When he covered the San Francisco 49ers, Crumpacker would organize an annual “taco fest” at training camp, open to all writers and media. It was a memorable event, Stone said, and one that Crumpacker is remembered in the community for.

During his time as a writer, Crumpacker was not only a successful football reporter, but also a dedicated track and field writer. He is commended by many for his efforts to keep reporting on the sport when many others did not.

Upon posting about Crumpacker’s death on Twitter, Stone received an overwhelming outpouring of condolences and fond memories about Crumpacker from other journalists, both from the Bay Area and nationwide.

Serving as a dedicated sports reporter since his first year out of college, Crumpacker certainly made an impact in the sports writer community and will be missed by many.

Contact Maria Kholodova at  or on Twitter


APRIL 19, 2023