Once upon a time, NYC sports yack radio as we currently know it, did not exist.  Long before WHN begat WFAN (and Jim Lampley and Pete Franklin gave way to Mike Francesa and Chris Russo),  Art Rust Jr.’s weeknight “SportsTalk” on WABC was the only game in town.  Rust, aka “Art Rustoleum Jr.” in the words of WFAN’s Steve Somers, ghostwrote the first of two Darryl Strawberry autobiographies, as well as authoring  the 1976 tome “Get That Nigger Off The Field”.  Rust passed away yesterday after a battle with Parkinson’s, and is recalled by the New York Times’ Richard Goldstein :

Mr. Rust was not the first New York radio sports host who bantered with listeners over the phone; Bill Mazer had an earlier popular program. But Mr. Rust œcertainly set the groundwork and the foundation for a WFAN, Steve Somers, a host for that station, told the MSG Web site.

Steve Malzberg, Mr. Rust™s producer, said œthere was a warmth to Mr. Rust™s broadcasts.

œIt was feeling like you knew Arthur George Rust Jr. and he was in your home, he said.

Mr. Rust reveled in his love of sports history. He was also known for his œRustisms. A left-hander was a œportsider and home plate was the œdish.

He called Yankee Stadium œthe big ball orchard in the South Bronx.

As he put it in 1976: œI lived to see blacks elected to the Hall of Fame. I lived to see Emmett Ashford, the first black umpire. I lived to see Aaron break Babe Ruth™s home-run record. I lived to see Frank Robinson become the first black manager in the major leagues. The system is breaking.

œHowever, he added, œan interesting development: My 10-year-old daughter, Suzanne, wants to know why women can™t play major league baseball.