Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Sportswriter par excellence

What can you say about a sportswriter who knew America's greatest baseball players, from Babe Ruth to Cal Ripken Jr.?

Let Richard Justice tell you about the late Shirley Povich:

At the height of Watergate when the Nixon Administration was denouncing the Post almost every day, the president admitted he'd been unable to break the Povich habit.

"I never read the Washington Post," Nixon said. "Well, except for Povich."

Shirley wrote about racism before it became fashionable. When baseball finally did integrate, he wrote movingly of how Jim Crow laws kept black and white players isolated from one another.

He constantly needled Redskins owner George Preston Marshall for being the last NFL owner to sign an African-American. He referred to the team's colors as "burgundy, gold and Caucasian."

He was there when Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in World Series history. "The million-to-one shot came in," Povich wrote. "Hell froze over. A month of Sundays hit the calendar. Don Larsen pitched a no-hit, no-run, no-man-reach-first game in a World Series."

Yes, in case you were wondering, Shirley Povich was the father of TV's Maury.

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