Bryan Burwell, a columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and a former Newsday sportswriter, died early Thursday after what the Post-Dispatch described as a "short battle with cancer." He was 59.
Roger Hensley, the newspaper's sports editor, wrote in a statement, "As great as Bryan was as a journalist, he was even better as teammate, as a co-worker and as a friend."
Although Burwell had a long career in print journalism, many knew him best for his regular appearances on ESPN's "The Sports Reporters" panel discussion show. He last was on in September. His final column for the Post-Dispatch appeared Oct. 14.
Burwell's death inspired many public condolences on social media and elsewhere, including from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who said in a statement: "Like so many others in the sports community today, I am shocked and saddened by the passing of respected journalist Bryan Burwell.
"From his recent coverage of the Cardinals to chronicling the national pastime as a whole, Bryan's passion and professionalism were evident throughout his long and distinguished sports media career."
While sports figures, particularly those with ties to St. Louis, fondly recalled Burwell, the most heartfelt reactions came from his large and varied group of colleagues and competitors in the news media.
Many recalled his enthusiastic attitude in a profession known for grumpiness and his booming, infectious laugh.
Bernie Miklasz, a fellow Post-Dispatch columnist, wrote that Burwell had been diagnosed only in October, and that his health declined swiftly.
"I wanted to be Burwell because he was such an immense, superior talent," Miklasz wrote of his early impressions of Burwell, who worked at Newsday from 1981 to 1983. (He also wrote for USA Today, the Detroit News and the New York Daily News; he joined the Post-Dispatch from HBO's "Inside the NFL" in 2002.)
"He viewed writing as a craft, polishing every sentence in an attempt to turn his words into diamonds. I wanted to be Burwell because he was the coolest dude in the press box. Sportswriters circled around him. If Bryan didn't initiate a conversation, it always found him, and soon enough he'd be at the center of it. The hub."
Burwell is survived by his wife, Dawn, and daughter, Victoria.