JAMIE Farr was there at the birth of the golf tournament that bears his name. Let’s hope that there’s a better send-off in the works.
Judd Silverman came to Mr. Farr 29 years ago to ask the actor who made the Mud Hens and Tony Packo’s famous on the hit TV series M*A*S*H for help. He wanted to bring a Ladies Professional Golf Association tournament to the Toledo area, and he needed Mr. Farr’s name and fame to get it off the ground.
Mr. Farr didn’t need the publicity — he was more famous than his hometown. He wasn’t even a golfer. But he wanted to say thanks.
“I had great memories of a lot of the things in Toledo,” Mr. Farr told The Blade in 2012, when he turned 75 years old and the tournament was celebrating its 25th anniversary. “And so I thought: ‘What a great way to give back to the community.’ ”
Over the years, the ladies’ golf tournament has had its ups and downs. Sponsors have come and gone. Only Mr. Farr and Mr. Silverman have been constants.
Not anymore. Starting this year, the Farr Classic will be known as the Marathon Classic, after Marathon Petroleum, which reportedly will pay a lot of money to be the tournament’s title sponsor.
It’s a good deal for the tournament, and the Toledo area. The Findlay oil company has agreed to fund this year’s $1.3 million purse, as well as $100,000 increases in 2014 and 2015. All four rounds of the tournament will be televised internationally on the Golf Channel.
In classic form, Mr. Farr lauded the change. He said he’s too busy to commit to hosting the tournament, so it was his decision to step aside. But if you believe that, there’s a development plan for the Toledo Edison steam plant that you might be interested in.
Toledo has had its share of famous people: Gloria Steinem, Anita Baker, P.J. O’Rourke, Danny Thomas, Katie Holmes. None has given back as much as Mr. Farr.
“We can’t thank Jamie enough,” said Toledo Classic Inc. board chairman Richard Hylant.
And they certainly haven’t.