Remembering GT Columnist Mark Mayer
December 12, 2018 3:01 AM
by Steve Carp
He was the Prince of Puns. And to his friends, a prince of a guy.
Mark Mayer loved to have a good laugh, and he used his keyboard to create light-hearted banter in his weekly columns during his 18-year run at Gaming Today.
The Queens, N.Y. native was found dead in his Las Vegas apartment Tuesday morning. He was 64.
The cause of Mayer’s death was unknown pending an autopsy from the Clark County Coroner’s office.
Mayer had been sports editor of GT from 2010 until late September and remained on the staff as a full-time columnist, focusing on the NFL and college football. At the time of his death, Mayer had posted an outstanding 71-47-3 record picking college football games this season.
Bill Paulos, owner and publisher of Gaming Today, said: “Mark was a unique person who had a great love of sports and for his job. He helped make Gaming Today the premier publication that it is.”
Howard Barish, GT’s general manager and managing editor, said: “Mark couldn’t have been more welcoming when I arrived at GT in July of this year.
“I love nostalgic stories and anecdotes, and that’s where Mark excelled in his writing, and life. He was just a soft-spoken, gentle guy. It gave me great pleasure to brag about his college football record on Twitter. But it pained me that I never jumped on the bandwagon and put in his plays. It would have subsidized our family’s winter vacation trip.
“I believe that I may have been the last person to have spoken with him. This deeply saddens me.”
A proud New Yorker and a diehard fan of the Mets, Mayer attended high school at Valley Stream Central and attended college at the University of South Carolina. He earned his degree in Journalism and wrote for the Florence Morning News and the Daytona Beach Journal.
In 1998, he moved to Las Vegas, working as a customer service representative at the Tropicana Hotel and also for Primadonna Resorts. The following year, he wrote for Vegas Insider, a website dedicated to sports betting.
In 2001, Chuck DiRocco hired Mayer to write for Gaming Today.
“Mark was one of the hardest working, most loyal employees I’ve ever had,” said Eileen DiRocco, GT’s former publisher. “He loved Gaming Today and was always willing to go above and beyond to help the paper succeed.
“Chuck found Mark’s sports and betting knowledge to be exceptional. And they both enjoyed discussing “back East” topics like the Mets, the Carnegie Deli and other hangouts. Mark’s witty columns will be missed by Gaming Today readers.”
Richard Saber, Mayer’s colleague and close friend, said: ”I worked at Gaming Today with Mark for almost 18 years, and he loved working for GT. He had a big following. He invented our ‘Two for Tuesday’ column and my ‘Get rich with Saber’ column. He will be missed by all of us here at Gaming Today.”
As a longtime writer and editor at GT, Mayer forged strong relationships and long-term friendships with many of the race and sports book directors in Las Vegas. It wasn’t uncommon to see quotes from the linesmakers in his stories.
Though he had a passion for football and loved writing about the NFL, Mayer was also a huge boxing fan and was a regular at ringside for local fight cards.
Gene Kilroy, best known as Muhammad Ali’s business manager, was a good friend of Mayer’s. For many years, he was part of Kilroy’s Saturday breakfast club at Bagelmania on Harmon Avenue and Swenson Street which attracted a number of celebrities and athletes.
“He was a good guy,” Kilroy said. ”Everybody loved him. He was like an ambassador for our group.”
Mayer loved his puns. Here’s one from a 2013 story on comedian Shecky Greene:
“What better way to ring in 2013 than an appearance from Shecky Greene for coffee, bagels and “locks” of laughs.”
GT production assistant Hunter Lewis said: “If you ever read some of his Dirty Dozen articles he wrote, he was writing two a week that I always put online and I think they were some of his best stuff. His headlines always made me laugh.”
Mayer also had his favorite punching bags. Most recently, Rutgers football and former Buffalo Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman were targets of his wit.
“He loved what he was doing and he hoped his father was proud of him,” Kilroy said of Mayer.
Mayer was close to his dad, Murray. As recently as last week, Mayer talked in a story on the Army-Navy football game about his father taking him to watch Army play at West Point and how some of his biggest thrills were sharing the experience of going to sporting events with him.
“Mark loved sports and loved his father deeply,” Saber said.
Mayer’s health had not been good recently. Last Saturday, he complained about severe headaches but did not seek medical treatment. When his daily content did not show up Sunday and Monday, calls were made to try and locate and reach him.
After several failed attempts, the manager of his complex where he lived discovered his body Tuesday morning and Metropolitan Police were called.
Mayer has no surviving family. Funeral plans are unknown.