Legendary sports comic commemorates a big W

Tank McNamara is celebrating its 45th anniversary this week. The beloved cartoon about an ex-pro-NFLer turned sports broadcaster became syndicated in 1974 by Universal Press Syndicate (now Andrews McMeel) and launched in newspapers across the country. At the time, sports news was not what is it today — around-the-clock, all-consuming coverage and updates thanks to the likes of ESPN, sports talk shows and the internet. Tank McNamara filled a need to bring sports commentary and color to the funny pages.

Co-creators Bill Hinds (left) and Jeff Millar (right) hard at work in the early days of the comic strip.

Bill Hinds and Jeff Millar co-created the strip after meeting through a mutual acquaintance at the Houston Chronicle, where both men worked for some time. From the beginning, Hinds served as illustrator and Millar as writer, the two collaborating on daily strips, sports themes and special features, such as the Sports Jerk of the Year award. When Millar passed away from cancer in 2012, Hinds took over both responsibilities.

In a 2014 interview with Fort Worth/Dallas’ The Sports Page, Hinds had this to say about being a cartoonist: “I feel very, very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had. I’ve spent my whole career basically doing a comic strip. It’s been my dream job and I appreciate that.”

Cheers to a hail-mary, slam-dunk, grand-slam, hat-trick, world-class 45 years … and many more!

Tank McNamara then (1974) and now (2019).