Jerry Greene called his sports column in the Orlando Sentinel “From the Cheap Seats,” and that’s what he provided readers for decades: the fans-eye-view of the action, on and off the field.

Greene, 74, an Orlando Sentinel sports reporter and columnist for most of the past 40 years, died Wednesday morning after an extended illness, the paper reported Wednesday.

Greene’s knowledge of sports from the NFL to Central Florida high schools came from his decades of professional reporting. But his humorous, everyman perspective came from his friendly, boisterous, larger-than-life, self-effacing personality.

He was the guy in the chicken suit or some other goofy costume in a newsroom full of button-down journalists. He was the guy writing like the fan on the next bar stool while everyone else was pursuing million-dollar athletes and coaches.

But he also was a journalist who could work a deep and broad network of sources, get the facts, and make his points with inarguable precision.

Greene also was a regular commentator on Orlando radio sports talk shows.

“I’m sad to report that longtime sports columnist Jerry Greene passed away this morning. Jerry had been having some health issues the past couple of weeks and was in the hospital. His son says Jerry died peacefully in his sleep,” Sentinel sports editor Roger Simmons wrote.

Greene came to the Sentinel in 1976 and retired in 2009, but returned in 2012 to revive his popular column on a weekly basis.

“It was sports editor Van McKenzie who made the brilliant decision to make Jerry a full-time columnist, so Jerry could share his unique perspective on life and sports with our readers on a regular basis,” Simons recalled.

“When I became sports editor in 2012, one of the first calls I made was to Jerry to see if he would revive his Cheap Seats column for us on Sundays. I’m so happy he agreed, because he added a great dose of fun in print and online.

“Sundays just won’t be the same without him,” he added.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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