Remembering Marty Mulé, Sugar Bowl Historian
By Ted Lewis for the Allstate Sugar Bowl
[This story originally appeared in the Official Game Program for the 2017 Allstate Sugar Bowl.]
Marty Mulé was never named “Official Historian of the Sugar Bowl.” There was no need.
Everybody knew who the bowl’s go-to guy was when it came to such matters.
“Nobody knew more about the history of the Sugar Bowl,” longtime program committee chairman Wayne Pierce said of Mulé, who died unexpectedly last March at age 73. “You could always rely on him with anything you asked him to do.”
Mulé was the author of a 50-year retrospective of the bowl that was published in 1985. In 2010, he and the bowl produced a lavish 75th anniversary edition which not only added accounts of events in the intervening years, but also revised the chapters about the game’s first half century.
In the years after his first Sugar Bowl history was published, Mulé wrote accounts of the previous year’s bowl which then appeared in the game programs. His last one, recounting the Oklahoma State-Ole Miss game, was finished shortly before his death.
Mulé also wrote other stories for the bowl and was an influential member of the Sugar Bowl-sponsored Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Selection Committee.
All of this was done while carving out a distinguished sports-writing career which included 31 years with the Times-Picayune where he was a columnist, enterprise writer and beat writer. Afterward, Mulé continued to write for various newspapers and was a columnist for Tiger Rag.
In addition to the two Sugar Bowl books, Mulé wrote six others, including Game Changers: The Definitive History of Sports in Louisiana.
It’s no small wonder that in 2008 the three-time Louisiana Sports Writer of the Year was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. He also served on the selection committee for that Hall of Fame. Following his death, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame established an award in Mulé’s name for those who have made significant contributions to its success.
“What a remarkable career,” said Sugar Bowl Chief Executive Officer Paul Hoolahan. “Marty was always talking about what he was working on or what he wanted his next project to be.
“The last thing I expected was to lose him. For the Sugar Bowl, he was an irreplaceable repository of information. His loss was overwhelming.”
Even before he began writing about the Sugar Bowl, Mulé was a fan of the game. His first date with Rose Bergeron, who would become his wife of 49 years, was attending the infamous snow game between Ole Miss and Alabama on January 1, 1964.
Their anniversary was Dec. 27, which usually meant the Sugar Bowl took precedent over celebrating.
“I learned not to make a big deal about it,” Rose Mulé said. “The Sugar Bowl was Marty’s second family.
“He loved the game, especially its history, and he just kind of blended in with the folks around the game. The Sugar Bowl just meant everything to him.”
Rose had a front-row seat to her husband’s penchant for research, especially in the two years he worked on the first Sugar Bowl book.
“He’d be on the phone telling others about some story he’d come across,” she said. “He was really excited about it. And then when he did the second book he was so proud of it.”
The Sugar Bowl distributed that second edition to some 5,000 members of the college football community around the country.
“It was a project that he laid out for me and he always emphasized that it should be something that was done at a very high level,” Hoolahan said. “And so we went with it and produced a coffee table book that turned out better than any of us envisioned.
“That was Marty. He always wanted the Sugar Bowl’s history to be honored in the best way possible. For him, it truly was a labor of love.”