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Frank Maestas, N.M. sports veteran, dies

By Associated Press

March 9, 2006


Updated 2:50 p.m. Frank Maestas, one of New Mexico's most popular and recognizable sportswriters during his 29-year career at the Albuquerque Journal, died Wednesday after a bout with pneumonia and lung disease. He was 70.

That was the title of the column written by longtime Albuquerque Journal sportswriter Frank Maestas, 70, who died on Wednesday of a rare lung disease. Here's what two former colleagues of Maestas had to say about his distinguished career in journalism.

Tribune Editor Phill Casaus

"I think for a lot of people the two guys in New Mexico sports journalism in town were Frank and Carlos (Salazar, former Tribune sports editor). Frank's a throwback in a lot of ways to what sports writing used to be. Frank's reputation was that of an honest man. You may not have liked him but you knew he was honest, accurate and a professional. In the Õ70s, he was the Journal sports section. He covered everything there was to cover - the Dukes, Lobo football, high schools. He did it all. Frank is going to be best known for being a longtime sportswriter. But he was . . . a very, very good person. I could never repay him for the things he did for me."

Former Journal sports editor Dennis Latta


"Frank was always in charge of the rookies. One of his favorite lines . . . we'd be on deadline and Frank would just ride 'em. `This is a daily newspaper young man,' he would tell them. Before the advent of computers, Frank was the best at dictating stories off the top of his head when he would call in from the road. It was an art form that I don't think many reporters today could do with the same ease as Frank. He always had a real value for us because he knew everybody worth knowing in New Mexico. He was never boring and he lived his life unlike most people. When a lot of people die, they have regrets about something. I think Frank did everything he wanted to do. He lived 23 hours and 59 minutes a day. I'm going to miss him.

Mike Garcia




Maestas was known by readers for the depth of his sports coverage and beloved by colleagues for his animated, sometimes outrageous, personality. He spent most of his career at the newspaper from 1962 until retiring in 1991.


"Without question, Frank was one of the more colorful sportswriters in New Mexico history," said Journal Editor Kent Walz.


Dennis Latta, a former Journal sports editor and longtime friend who now runs the New Mexico Sports Authority, called Maestas "a pioneer for Hispanic journalists in New Mexico."


"He was respected by athletes he covered, by coaches he worked with and by everyone in the sports media," Latta said. "He befriended everyone. We've lost a real character who will always be in the folklore of sports journalism in New Mexico."


Born in Las Vegas, N.M., on Oct. 6, 1935, Maestas graduated from West Las Vegas High School in 1955 and earned a journalism degree from New Mexico Highlands University in 1959.


His son, Antonio, said Maestas worked at the Journal briefly after graduating from college, then became sports editor of the Santa Fe New Mexican, taught for a year at Pojoaque High School and rejoined the Journal in 1962.


Maestas had a passionate devotion to his favorite sports teams, the New York Yankees in baseball and Notre Dame in football.


"He was an intense sports fan, a solid journalist and someone who really cared," said Pete Herrera, sportswriter for the Associated Press in New Mexico. "A lot of people don't know Frank was very involved in human justice issues."


At the Journal, Maestas covered University of New Mexico athletics, the Albuquerque Dukes Triple-A minor league baseball team and high school sports. He was well known in the sports media for his participation in the Western Athletic Conference's annual skywriters tour.


He also was remembered for his devotion to the job.


Albuquerque Tribune Editor Phill Casaus, who began his career in the Journal's sports department, admired Maestas for his willingness to dig into any facet of the work. While he was the paper's top beat writer for years, Maestas always was willing to work into the night to answer phones and take statistics or dictation from high school events.


"Frank was one of those guys who was legendary because he was so different," Casaus said, choking back tears. "Sometimes, being a good journalist isn't just about words and reporting. It's about dedication. That was Frank. He loved doing the job, but more importantly, he loved doing the job well."


Maestas recently had a pacemaker installed and was hospitalized after complications developed. Initially he was treated for pneumonia but the illness developed into pulmonary fibrosis, a rare lung disease. He died at his Albuquerque home.


A public memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday at the YDI Wool Warehouse located at 516 First St. N.W. Maestas' son, Antonio, said the service will be a "memorial celebration," with music, food and a bar.


"It'll be a chance for us to just be together and tell Frank stories," he said

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