In memoriam: Eric Martin, co-founder of City Sports, dies at 50

Eric Martin, 50, the co-founder and president of Boston, Mass.-based, retailer City Sports, died on Sept. 10 after a long battle with cancer.
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Eric Martin, 50, the co-founder and president of Boston, Mass.-based, retailer City Sports, died on Sept. 10 after a long battle with cancer.

Known for his sense of humor and competitive drive, Martin was, perhaps, one of the few presidents SNEWS® knew who would shut down the corporate offices for an impromptu ping-pong tournament or roller hockey match.

Martin, along with his business partner and close friend, Michael Kennedy, founded City Sports in 1983, with a single door on Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Boston.

The eldest of three children, Martin grew up in Groton Long Point, Conn., where he was racing on downhill skis in elementary school. After graduating college, he competed in the professional ski circuit for a number of years. Martin also was skilled at soccer and tennis, which he played at Principia College in Elsah, Ill.

SNEWS® president Michael Hodgson played on the same varsity soccer team as Martin and remembers his charisma.

"If there was a party, Martin was at the center you could be sure," Hodgson remembered. "If there was a dance, Martin was the one to watch -- boy, could he dance! He was competitive to the nth degree, but always with a smile."

He even won a swing dance competition with the woman who is now his wife, Katie.

Martin worked as a stockbroker in Boston after leaving the ski circuit, and there reunited with his high-school friend, Kennedy, and the two launched City Sports to fill a retail niche in downtown Boston supplying urban athletes who had to travel out of downtown to buy sporting goods.

Though neither Martin or Kennedy had any prior retail experience, save for a stint Martin spent working in his father's Reid & Hughes chain, the two quickly learned what it took to be successful.

Now, City Sports operates 17 stores in metropolitan markets across the Eastern U.S. seaboard.

In addition to his wife, Martin leaves two daughters, Gabby and Hannah, a son, Cody, as well as his father and sister.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Sept. 22 in Cashman Park in Newburyport, Mass.

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