Husky grad, Daily writer, IMA softball champ and all-around good guy entertained us with his clever writing and sharp mind.
The name that showed up in my email inbox one morning a few years ago caught me immediately: Jim Caple. I recognized it right away; he was a nationally known sportswriter who plied his trade for ESPN, The Athletic, The Seattle P-I and St. Paul Pioneer Press. A terrific baseball writer, he also turned out clever, creative fun stories on just about every other sport, from his experience in the World Wife Carrying Championship in Finland to joining Tour de France winner Floyd Landis for a bike ride to catching a knuckleball from Cy Young Award-winning pitcher R.A. Dickey. The dude could write.
And he was asking me if he could write for University of Washington Magazine. (Oh yeah, he was a proud alum, former Daily staffer and IMA softball champion, too.)
A few days later, he came by the office. I stepped outside our U District office building and there was Jim, getting off his bike. He rode here from his home in Newcastle. Turns out he was a really serious bicyclist. We hit it off right away. He had sent me a list of great story ideas – all of which he wrote for us. But there was one problem. The kid from Longview was a San Francisco Giants fan, and I was a Los Angeles Dodgers fan.
Still, we overcame that (sort of) and he churned out terrific pieces for the magazine: A look at what former Husky star quarterback Jake Locker was up to; the amazing story of Charles Sheaffer, ’47 (the dad of his best friend), who came back to the UW after being wounded in World War II to play basketball for the Huskies; Husky Stadium’s 100th birthday and all of the incredible things that happened on the gridiron. But Jim didn’t only write about sports. He recounted his experience as a high school student in Longview when nearby Mount St. Helens blew in 1980. But my favorite story of his was “The House at 5030,” a tale of Jim and 10 fellow UW classmates, dorm mates and friends who moved into a U District boarding house and remained friends 40 years later.
We became fast friends. As a former sportswriter myself, we shared stories but his were always better, like the time he interviewed actor Kurt Russell, who was in Vancouver, B.C., filming the 2004 movie “Miracle” about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team (I’m a huge hockey fan and I dragged my 10-year-old daughter to watch that movie in Woodinville), or how he covered the French Open tennis tournament or the Olympics or the World Wife Carrying Championships. He would talk about old movies like “An American in Paris” when we would grab a bite at Cedar’s in the U District, and we went to see old movies in Bellevue or the Central Cinema in the Central District. I also ran into him at spring training in Arizona in 2021, just days before the world came to a screeching halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and pontificated about the Mariners’ chances before the ushers told us to get out of the aisle at the ballpark.
Jim, my friend, diehard Husky, beloved writer and all-around good guy who loved to travel (70 countries!) and bicycle, died Oct. 1 at the young age of 61. He weathered the coldest day in Minnesota history when he and Vicki were married. Yet ALS and dementia took him away from us. For several years, he made me look awfully good by turning in such interesting, touching stories to this magazine. At the celebration of Jim’s life recently, the room at the Washington Athletic Club was filled with friends, family, neighbors and many people connected to sports to share stories. I won’t see him riding his bike from the Eastside to grab a bite in the U District or talk sports or movies of books with him, but I do remember him every time I drive by the 5030 house a couple blocks from campus. And you can enjoy his work again by checking these stories out. Miss you, pal.
Jon Marmor is the editor of University of Washington Magazine.