What we’re attempting with the students at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, with support from the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism, is to put together a current version of the 1973 and 1995 editions of the book “No Cheering in the Press Box” by Jerome Holtzman.
The late Mr. Holtzman, who died in 2008 at the age of 82, was a student and devotee of the art of sportswriting much of his life. In his book, the latest version published by Henry Holt and Company in 1995, Mr. Holtzman chronicled the life and times of 24 of the greatest sports journalists of his generation, starting with Dan Daniel of The Sporting News and ending with Jim Schlemmer of the Akron Beacon-Journal. Legends Red Smith and Shirley Povich are sandwiched in the middle.
Our version – to be posted on the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism’s web site (povichcenter.org) – will be called, with all credit to Mr. Holtzman, “Still No Cheering in the Press Box.” We’ll follow Mr. Holtzman’s lead, with introductory profiles of each of the sportswriters, then permitting the journalists to relay in their own words how they lived their lives and did their work.
In most cases, we put together teams of two students for each journalist. Some of the interviews were done in person, others on the telephone. In each case the journalists were generous with their time and advice to the students. Mr. Holtzman’s interviews occurred from 1971 to 1973 – which means we had 40 years worth of great sportswriters to choose from.
What makes this project so exciting is the web site makes our effort ongoing and self-sustaining, with the likes of Michael Wilbon, Mitch Albom, John Feinstein, Christine Brennan, Bill Nack, Claire Smith, Bob Ryan and Sally Jenkins “intype” or completed. Current greats including Frank Deford, David Kindred, Bill Plaschke, Edwin Pope, Jane Leavy, Bill Simmons, Bill Rhoden, Richard Justice, Tom Boswell, Wright Thompson, Jason Whitlock, Will Leitch, Tony Kornheiser, Mike Lupica, Woody Paige and two women named Joan Ryan are on our “wish list” — to name a few.
In the case of the late Jim Murray, Merrill College doctoral candidate Elia Powers sharpened his reporter’s pencil and went to work, interviewing the great Los Angeles Times columnist’s friends, subjects and family. Your Maryland prof also did some pounding, bothering two friends – Dave Anderson of the New York Times and Andrew Beyer of the Washington Post — for chapters.
In the words of Jerome Holtzman, “None of the interviewees was given the opportunity to edit or alter remarks.” The editing was done by yours truly, former Washington Post colleague Leonard Shapiro, Merrill College professor Carl Stepp, Povich Center Coordinator Beth Mechum and Povich website editor Scott Greene.
So, while some of our choices will generate debate, including if this was possible, from the man whose name adorns this sports journalism center, we ask you to enjoy. This could take years.
Comments welcomed at povichcenter.org.