Hearne: The Kansas City Star Suicide & Walter Mitty

Martin Manley

Martin Manley

Suicide may not be pretty but it seems like everybody wants a piece of it…

Including former Kansas City Star sports statistician Martin Manley, a dude who lived his life largely anonymously – in the shadows – all while obviously wanting something more.

Manley got that something after publicly offing himself last week and leaving a pair of websites explaining why.

How inconspicuous was Manley at the newspaper?

Enough so that during the three year overlap between my time and his at the StarI can’t remember a single encounter, nor could I pick Manley out of a police lineup. And for the most part, nor could the other Star staffers with whom I spoke.

“He was very quiet and a guy of kind of small stature,” said one. “I don’t think he was married. So it doesn’t really surprise me that a guy that age out of a job and isolated would do something like this.”

Obviously Manley wanted to go out with a bang, rather than go quietly in the night.

Prior to offing himself he prepaid for his sports statistics website and his suicide explanation website to continue for another five years.

That is until Yahoo pulled the plug on the latter.

But hey, Manley got what he wanted – plenty of attention.

Everybody from Tony’s Kansas City to the New York Daily News to the United Kingdom’s The Mail weighed in on his bizarre exit. Even the publisher of former KC blog site Bottom Line Communications dug the site back up and posted a short story about Manley’s dramatic death.

Martin_Mug_009.194215300_stdThe Mail had the best story:

“A disgruntled Kansas City sportswriter’s claims that he buried $200,000 in gold and silver coins in local a park before committing suicide has brought on a mad rush of treasure hunters who have arrived with shovels, picks and metal detectors hoping to strike it rich.

“Local police have been forced to post officers to guard the Overland Park Arboretum in Kansas, where Martin Manley indicated his fortune could be hidden. Dozens of people who have sought to dig for the treasure have been turned away.

“Both police and Mr Manley’s family say the promise of buried treasure is a hoax. His family says he sold or gave away all of his precious coins before his death. Police said they swept the area with a metal detector and found nothing.”

Far be it from me to try and tell you what sort of guy Manley was, but I can offer a small window into the type of quiet, reserved people drawn to print journalism, based on my 16 years at the newspaper.

Screen shot 2013-08-19 at 11.43.51 AMWhen I arrived at the Star in the early 1990s, diversity was the battle cry and the newspaper held several workshops in my early years that employees were required to attend. As a footnote to that, I can tell you that this is where controversial editorial board sparkplug Louis Diuguid made his mark and began his rapid climb up the newspaper ranks.

LewisDiuguidI attended several of these and volunteered and served on the newspaper’s diversity committee a number of times.

But it wasn’t so much the newspaper’s pursuit of diversity that stick’s in my memory today as the group sessions held with reporters in which we were asked to introduce ourselves and tell what it was that drew us to print journalism.

And almost to a man (and obviously woman), the most common reason given was that the reporters were introverted and shy and journalism was a way of forcing them out of their shells into the real world to ask questions and get answers. Questions they otherwise would never dreamed of asking because they were too bookish and not outgoing.

Manley appears to fit this stereotype quite well.

Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty

A dude who buried his nose in sports statistics – undoubtedly a low-paying position without a great deal of fanfare or public recognition – let alone star power.

But given the particulars of Manley’s exit, he wanted more and he went about ensuring that he would get that fame and recognition – however fleeting – by planning his sad, pathetic exit.

Just in time for all of us to celebrate Hollywood’s coming soon reincarnation of the original Martin Manley, Walter Mitty.



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13 Responses to Hearne: The Kansas City Star Suicide & Walter Mitty

  1. Ending his life exactly on the mark of his 60th birthday shows he planned this outing for quite some time. Personally, life is given to you for some reason, whether you ever find out or not. I wouldn’t give too much credence to this rising, militant atheist movement, either. (Notice the only kind of people who tout it seem to be academics that lived a comfortable existence. And yes, I went through my atheism phase, too.) It’s very selfish and inconsiderate to kill yourself. I don’t care how depressed you are, there is a way to get out of it. And believe me, I battled depression numerous times. Everybody has at least once in their life. Serve your time and be grateful for your life on this planet. If you’re terminally ill (a la “The Sea Inside”), then it’s another story, I guess. But simply out of depression and other hardships is no excuse.

    • He wasn’t depressed and there were no hardships. That’s what makes it kind of fascinating, really. The site he set up prior to doing it– that went live only after the act– is very interesting. That’s why the quotes from the Mail about a “disgruntled Kansas City sportswriter” are pretty hilarious. He wasn’t disgruntled at all.

      Poke around the site. He addresses virtually EVERYTHING… the why, the why not, the selfishness, etc. I couldn’t quit reading.

      Here’s the mirrored site: http://www.ussolutions.net/martin/backup/index-2.html

      • chuck says:

        I think it is kinda interesting that he left out so many folks who committed suicide on his website.

        I would have thought he would mention Marshall Saper.

        Hearne, remember Nancy Saper?

        • admin says:

          Yep, fixed her up one time with a friend of mine from Arizona. Watched her lead former KY102 Jon Hart (now at The Bridge) down the primrose path to no avail.

          She was hot

      • Wow, just skimmed through it, and damn, that guy was nihilistic with his “Why Not?” section. Very bleak perspective. Eh, I don’t know; I’m still going with the depression card, though. It’s like he was trying to argue the objective reasoning of ending a life. Goes hand-in-hand with his statistical background. KC’s own Nietzsche.

        “Don’t misunderstand. I wasn’t miserable to the point of depression, but I’ve never known how to smell the roses the way many other people can.”

        I see it as he saw life as a meaningless void. I don’t know how to respond without a God, spiritual, or religious reference, but what’s the good in ending it all instead of seeking answers–or at least die trying? Succumbing to suicide is an admission of defeat. Bill Hicks said it best, “life is just a ride.” Why did he want to get off it early?

        • He discusses that a lot, actually. About having accomplished everything he wanted to… about being afraid of losing his facilities as he ages. He said that he felt himself losing little bits and pieces– failing to remember names, where he put things, etc.– and refused to be a burden as he got older and it grew worse.

  2. gerald bostock says:

    Boy, this post was a disjointed jumble of nothing. First we learn that Manley could not be someone of importance because Hearne didn’t know him. Then there’s some baseless speculation that only serves to make the point that Hearne didn’t even bother to read any of the Manley website that makes his suicide notable. And there’s always space for a cheap shot at Lewis Diuguid, as well as the non sequitur promotion of Ben Stiller’s next blockbuster. But the item seems somehow incomplete without Craig Glazer’s insight into the Manley Mind.

    • admin says:

      Well, that’s one way to look at it, I suppose.

      But you are something else, Tull worshipper.

      A cheap shot at Louis? Noting that his upward climb was fueled by his leadership at the Star in its pursuit of diversity in the newsroom? Yeah, that was a nasty one.

      Or was it the reference to him being controversial? Do you even know who I’m talking about? How is that a shot? That’s a compliment in my book.

  3. bschloz says:

    Wild story…. my sympathies to those connected to Mr. Manley.

    The thought of Gold Bugs at OP Arboretum with their Gold Detectors is to much.
    He bought Gold at $300 blah blah blah.
    So sad all the way around.

  4. Rick Nichols says:

    The fact of the matter is we’re all perfectly capable of doing what Mr. Manley did because when you get right down to it we really don’t know ourselves all that well despite claims to the contrary. Only God really knows what makes any of us tick. At any rate, it’s sad that the deceased had apparently reached the point where he viewed his life as no longer having meaning or value. I wasn’t in his shoes so I won’t attempt to judge him. But I do hope he has found the peace and fulfillment that seems to have eluded him in this world.

  5. Mysterious J says:

    This is why I always come back to KCC…for the chance to admire the fact that Hearne never hesitates to take a swipe at his enemies over a corpse. Bravo.

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