Sunday, June 22, 2008

Shirley Povich Media Center Dedication

There are Greats in any Sport. And there are Greats in the Journalists that cover the games we love. Some would say, there were not many Reporters better than the late Shirley Povich. From 1924 to the very day before he passed away in 1998, Mr. Povich worked for The Washington Post. At the ripe young age of 20, Shirley Povich became the youngest Sports Editor of a Major U.S. Newspaper. From those early days of the roaring 20's continuing for SEVEN CONSECUTIVE DECADES, Mr. Povich covered and reported on some the greatest sporting events in American History--including GAME 7 of The 1294 World Series. The only Champion of Baseball to ever call Washington, DC it's home.

Shirley Povich was a GREAT MAN, well respected and dedicated to his work. His biography alone is worth your read. So is the tribute given by his beloved Washington Post upon his passing. Elected to the Sports Writers Wing of The National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975, Mr. Povich was also elected to The Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 1984. This man covered the famous 1927 Jack Dempsey--Gene Tunney Prize Fight; Lou Gehrig's Famous Farewell Speech in 1939; Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in The Major Leagues; even Don Larsen's World Series Perfect Game. Covering the gamut of baseball--Mr. Povich also was on hand on that famous night in Baltimore at Camden Yards when Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's Consecutive Games Streak in 1995.

That my friends was a man on a mission. He cared about sports. He loved reporting on them. And he loved being a professional. How else can you explain a man that worked well past retirement age (92 upon his death) covering 60 World Series and 20 Super Bowls. Mr. Povich called Walter Johnson--his friend.

And Shirley Povich called Washington, DC his home.

This morning on South Capitol Street, Our Washington Nationals honored this man and his family by formally dedicating The Media Center at New Nationals Park as The Shirley Povich Media Center. Many of Mr. Povich's extended family were on hand for the ceremonies. His son's Maury & David, his daughter Lynn. Also on hand were Maury's wife--Connie Chung, as well as a countless number of Grand Children and Great Grand Children. This was a dedication at New Nationals Park Obviously Never Seen Before.

And it was very touching.

Team President Stan Kasten Lead off the Ceremony.

“We couldn’t think of anyone we could name the Media Center (at New Nationals Park) for more than Shirley Povich with his long tradition of excellence in this town. I know that all of you who grew up following sports in the newspaper did so by all the things that Shirley Povich taught you about sports. On behalf of The Washington Nationals. On behalf of The Lerner Family—we are thrilled, excited and proud to formally dedicate this Media Center after the Great Shirley Povich.”

Then, Mr. Kasten introduced Maury Povich to formally accept the dedication for his family.

“My sister Lynn and brother David are also here with me. We are just so delighted to be here. We know how much Dad would be so appreciative of everything The Lerner Family has done. I would think that this would not be the most appreciative about what The Lerners have done. What he would really be glad about is that The Lerner’s brought baseball back to Washington. And that is what he would dearly LOVE. That would be number one in his heart. That would be the great debt of gratitude he would owe Ted (Lerner) and The Lerner Family.”

“He (Shirley) would be very humble. He would feel undeserving of this honor. He would say this is not what he is about. What he really thought was when he walked into that Press Box/Media Center—that, that was his sanctuary. It was his ground. It was in effect for so many years—his office. And he knew what that meant from the very first time he went in there (The Press Box)—to write the very best he could. And like so many of the great writers, it was a struggle. And that is why George Solomon (Washington Post) so accurately described in the paper today—he (Shirley Povich) was always the last person to leave the press box. It would be him and the telegrapher. Then the lights would go out. That is the way it was for him every single day.”

So, we (The Povich Family) thank you so much. I think you get a good feeling about [Shirley Povich]. Frank Ceresi has done a marvelous job here (finding the artifacts and building the display). What you see here of my father is what he loved the most. Whether it be his typewriter, or his fedora or the dozens of World Series Pins. So, I wanted to thank you, Stan (Kasten) and I want to thank everyone connected with The Nationals. We are so appreciative for it. Thank you so very, very much (tears in his eyes).”

After Maury Povich finished his remarks--he along with his sister Lynn and brother David unveiled a special englassed legacy to their father. Included in the case are Shirley Povich's famous Fedora, his manual Royal Typewriter, his personally scored scorebook from The 1924 Champion Washington Senators World Series, Baseball signed by Shirley Povich, Walter Johnson and the entire 1924 Championship Team, 1948 Clark Griffith (Senators long time owner) Tribute Program and a personal letter form President Dwight D. Eisenhower showing admiration for Mr. Povich's work. This is a GREAT CASE OF WASHINGTON MEMORABILIA.

Only this dedication got even better, when Maury Povich unveiled a specially framed work containing many of his fathers famous World Series Press Pins--including a special medallion given to The World Champion 1924 Washington Nationals (Senators). Sorry folks, but being in the media--that was very touching. There was a huge cheer from those in attendance. And a few moist eyes also.

The Povich Family was quite touched with the honor. And as I am sure few of you are aware--The African Queen worked with Maury Povich at WTTG-TV here in Washington, DC for many years--dating back nearly 25 years. They are colleagues and Maury took a few moments after the dedication to speak with Sohna about this day.

“This is just a great capping off of everything my father would have ever dreamed," Maury said to Sohna. "Of course, most of all, Baseball back in Washington, DC would have pleased him more than anything. He never got over the fact that Washington did not have a Big League Team. And the very fact that his friends, The Lerner Family brought baseball back—and for them to honor him like this is just too much to ask. We (The Povich's) are very proud. I have no doubt my Dad is just a pleased."

June 22nd, 2008--Our Washington Nationals Honor A Great Man. From now and for years in the future--The Press Box at New Nationals Park will be named The Shirley Povich Media Center. This was a memorable day for Washington Sport. Our Nation's Capital has a rich history that many need to get reacquainted with. A history Shirley Povich reported on for over 70 years.


paul said...

Shirley Povich was the best sports reporter of all time. He once wrote, "Jim Brown, born ineligible to play for the Redskins, integrated their end zone three times yesterday." His lede for Don Larsen's perfect game was, "The million-to-one shot came in. Hell froze over. A month of Sundays hit the calendar. . . ." More info can be found at Leonard Shapiro's story about Povich when Shirley died:

Sam R said...


Thanks for sharing. Where is the display located? Can ordinary folks see and admire it or is this in a 'controlled access' area of the Park?

Take Me Out To The Ballgame!


Screech's Best Friend said...

Sam: The Shirley Povich Displays are located on the 6th Floor of New Nationals Park, just outside the Main Press Box. I am pretty sure its in a non public area of the ballpark. Although, my understanding is this area is included on The Ballpark Tour.

WFY said...

FedEd Field named their press box after him too.

I loved Don Larsen lede -- I stole it for the Nats arrival:

"WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The million-to-one shot came in. Hell froze over. A month of Sundays hit the calendar. Major League Baseball relocated the Montreal Expos to Washington, one day short of thirty-three years since the last game played by a baseball team that called the Nation's Capitol home."


SenatorNat said...

I applaud the memorial of course in his honor: like Johnny Cash would say, "any boy named Shirley would have to be involved in sports for 7 decades!" I spoke with Mr. Povich at his lecture at the Smithsonian many years ago, saying that I loved his lengthy description of the front end of a significant Sunday doubleheader in which the Senators would be victorious, ending his This Morning column with "and there was a nightcap, and of course, the Nats took that one, too..." The wry humor so rich, since the Nats, like the 2008 version, seldom won two games in a row, much less on the same day!!

Incidentally, I grew up in Bob Addie's neighborhood, friends with his son Rusty, and we both knew Eddie Baxter, son of the longtime Senators equipment manager, same age. If you look at the first name on the Washington Hall of Stars behind the Red Loft, you can see Pauline Betz Addie, Rusty's Mom, who won at Wimbleton in the 1940's.

Maury Povich, Landon boy and Porche driver, used to hang at F.Scott's nightclub near Prospect Street back in his bachelorhood: he was very interesting guy to have a few with; and I shall never forget his lunchtime show on Channel 5,Panaroma, for many years. Right after Jimmy Carter was elected he went to Chicago: always suspected there might be a connection betweeen his interview in 1979 with then Governor of Georgia, repeatedly saying that Carter could not seriously be running for President...

M. Povich got that one wrong, and he is wrong to say that the Lerners brought baseball back to Washington, too. The Collins group; the Mallick group; the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission and Mayor Williams and Councilman Jack Evans; and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf did that. The Lerners were the beneficiaries of Selig's identification with them as an established D.C. family which would run it accordingly.

Trust in anyone affiliated with the 1924 World Champions. All Good.

SenatorNat said...

Correction: M.Povich interview with Governor Carter (had of the Governors Conference) was summertime, 1976, just after Carter attended backyard BBQ in Chevy Chase (fundraiser). By 1979, Carter was being held hostage, in essence, by Iran...

Back to baseball - George Carlin's routine comparing it to warlike football still outstanding - getting a lot of replay today. Never forget his sports reporter, "and a partial score, Stanford 14."! May you be "safe at home" George.

Trust in a great sense of humor. All Good.

Anonymous said...

SBF is correct. The Press Box is one of the stops on the public tour.

Unknown said...

I grew up in Washington as I was born in Sibley Hospital in 1949.
I followed sports like crazy in those days and remember that my older brother and my best friend "Alley Cat" (Alex) knew everybody's average in the American League all the time.

The first thing that I would do , from the age of 7 until I was about 21 was look for Povich's column in the Post and read it.
My told me in the 5th grade that I was going to Gonzaga, not St. John's , DeMatha or Carroll. I did and didn't want me reading useless dumbed down stuff and by that he was talking about sports stories.

He made exception for Mr. Povich because what he wrote was considered to be the truth and very insightful and even challenging particularly when I was young.I am limited to Washington DC when it comes to sports writers and don't know much about Grantland Rice or Red Smith.I never admired any writer more than Shirley Povich , who covered athletes from Babe Ruth to Michael Jordan and once wrote about Jimmy Brown.

In 1960, disgusted that his (and my)hometown Washington Redskins were the last National Football League team to integrate, Povich wrote the following about the Skins game with the Cleveland Browns.:

"For 18 minutes the Redskins were enjoying equal rights with the Cleveland Browns yesterday, in the sense that there was no score in the contest. Then it suddenly became unequal in favor of the Browns, who brought along Jim Brown, their rugged colored fullback from Syracuse.

From 25 yards out, Brown was served the ball by Milt Plum on a pitch-out and he integrated the Redskins' goal line with more than deliberate speed, perhaps exceeding the famous Supreme Court decree. Brown fled the 25 yards like a man in an uncommon hurry and the Redskins' goal line, at least, became interracial."

He was the best I ever read.