INDIANAPOLIS — John Bansch was known as tough, but fair.
As a journalist — especially dealing with professional sports franchises and major college programs — that's just about all you could ask for.
Bansch brought that professional demeanor to Indianapolis, where he served as a writer and editor for the Indianapolis Star's sports department for more than four decades.
Bansch passed away on Wednesday. He was 81.
He certainly had many highlights in a lengthy sports journalism career, but perhaps Bansch will be best remembered as the first-ever beat writer of the Colts when they moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984. He would cover the team for more than a decade.
Accordingly, he became close with — and gained the respect of — several team officials over the years. Colts Owner Jim Irsay tweeted his condolences about Bansch's passing on Wednesday:
Bansch began his journalism career as a student at the University of Montana, and eventually found his way to Indianapolis, where he would type his various articles and columns into a typewriter starting in the 1950s, and by the time he retired in 1999, the industry had shifted considerably into the computer world.
Known by many as "The Captain," Bansch earned the trust of several coaches and team officials from multiple sports throughout the state over his career. According to a Sept. 24, 1999, Indy Star piece written by Bill Benner — who now serves as the Indiana Pacers' Senior Vice President of Corporate, Community and Public Relations — Bansch was able to discern which privileged information could go in print, and which would stay between his sources.
"Often, on the eve of a game, a coach — be it Indiana's John Punt or Purdue's Jack Mollenkopf — would share cocktails and conversation," Benner wrote. "The coaches would divulge game plans without fear of being burned and talk frankly about players and their abilities with the knowledge those comments would not appear in the newspaper the next day.
"Whatever the assignment, John worked it hard and well," Benner later continued.
Bansch is survived by his wife of 58 years, Joyce, as well as two daughters, Pam (Jim) Dickerson and Paula Bansch. He is also survived by his sister Kathy (Bill) Hanchett, and "nearly a dozen nephews and great nieces and great newphews," according to the Indianapolis Star.
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