Shirley Povich

Shirley Povich

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Shirley Lewis Povich was an American sports columnist and reporter for the Washington Post.


Povich's parents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

. Having grown up in coastal Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor is a town on Mount Desert Island in Hancock County, Maine, United States. As of the 2010 census, its population is 5,235. Bar Harbor is a famous summer colony in the Down East region of Maine. It is home to the College of the Atlantic, Jackson Laboratory and Mount Desert Island...

, far from a major league team, the first game he ever saw was a game for which he wrote the game story.

Journalism career

Povich joined the Post as a reporter in 1923 during his second year as a Georgetown University
Georgetown University
Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit, research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States...

 law student, and in 1925 was named Editor of Sports. In 1933, he became a sports columnist, a responsibility that continued until his death, with only one interruption. In 1944, Povich took on the assignment of Washington Post war correspondent in the Pacific Theater
Pacific Ocean theater of World War II
The Pacific Ocean theatre was one of four major naval theatres of war of World War II, which pitted the forces of Japan against those of the United States, the British Commonwealth, the Netherlands and France....

. Following World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, he returned to his sports desk. He was the sports editor for the Post for forty-one years.

He celebrated his retirement in 1973, but continued to write more than 500 pieces and cover the World Series
World Series
The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball, played between the American League and National League champions since 1903. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff and awarded the Commissioner's Trophy...

 for the Post. He would write about both the modern game and memories of years past. At the time of his death, he was one of few working writers who had covered Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth
George Herman Ruth, Jr. , best known as "Babe" Ruth and nicknamed "the Bambino" and "the Sultan of Swat", was an American Major League baseball player from 1914–1935...

. In fact, his final column was in the Post the day after his death at age 92.

Povich is the author of The Washington Senators
Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins are a professional baseball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They play in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The team is named after the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and St. Paul. They played in Metropolitan Stadium from 1961 to 1981 and the...

(G.P. Putnam Sons, 1954) and All These Mornings (Prentice-Hall, 1969). A collection of his columns, All Those Mornings...At the Post was published in April, 2005 (PublicAffairs).


Among his prestigious honors: the National Headliners 1964 Grantland Rice
Grantland Rice
Grantland Rice was an early 20th century American sportswriter known for his elegant prose. His writing was published in newspapers around the country and broadcast on the radio.-Biography:...

 Award for sports writing, the Red Smith Award
Red Smith Award
The Red Smith Award is awarded by the Associated Press Sports Editors for outstanding contributions to sports journalism. It has been awarded annually at the APSE convention since 1981...

 in 1983, and election to the National Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 1984. In 1975, he was recipient of the Baseball Writers Association of America
Baseball Writers Association of America
The Baseball Writers' Association of America is a professional association for baseball journalists writing for daily newspapers, magazines and qualifying Web sites. The BBWAA was founded on October 14, 1908, to improve working conditions for sportswriters in the early part of the 20th century...

's J. G. Taylor Spink Award, the Baseball Hall of Fame honor for sportswriters. He was President of the BWAA in 1955.

Povich's first name accounted for his listing in Who's Who of American Women in 1958. He recalled in his autobiography that "Shirley" was a common name for boys where he came from, but many who read his column thought Povich was a woman; in jest, Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite
Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. was an American broadcast journalist, best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years . During the heyday of CBS News in the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as "the most trusted man in America" after being so named in an opinion poll...

 even proposed marriage to "her."

Shirley Povich Field
Shirley Povich Field
Shirley Povich Field is a baseball stadium in Rockville, Maryland. It is the home field of the Georgetown University Hoyas college baseball team of the Division I Big East Conference. It is also the home field of the Bethesda Big Train of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Collegiate Baseball League, a...

, located in Bethesda, Maryland
Bethesda, Maryland
Bethesda is a census designated place in southern Montgomery County, Maryland, United States, just northwest of Washington, D.C. It takes its name from a local church, the Bethesda Meeting House , which in turn took its name from Jerusalem's Pool of Bethesda...

, is the home of the Bethesda Big Train
Bethesda Big Train
The Bethesda Big Train are a collegiate summer baseball team based in Bethesda, Maryland. Most of its players are drawn from the college ranks. The team is a member of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League . The Big Train plays its home games at Shirley Povich Field...

 (a team in a summer college-player league) and of the Georgetown University baseball team.

The Philip Merrill College of Journalism
Philip Merrill College of Journalism
The Philip Merrill College of Journalism is a journalism school located at the University of Maryland, College Park. The college was founded in 1945 and was named after newspaper editor Philip Merrill in 2001. The school has about 600 undergraduates and 70 graduate students enrolled.The school...

 at the University of Maryland
University of Maryland
When the term "University of Maryland" is used without any qualification, it generally refers to the University of Maryland, College Park.University of Maryland may refer to the following:...

 on November 2, 2011, announced the creation of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism, to expand its highly popular sports news program into a national leader in sports journalism education.

"Most important, the center will serve as a launching pad for students to learn, actively participate in and develop the journalistic skills they need to meet the challenges facing them as the next generation of sports journalists," said George Solomon, the former Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor for Sports who will become the Center's director.

The center is made possible by a $1 million challenge gift from Povich's children, Maury, Lynn and David.

The University of Maryland maintains the collections of Mr. Povich, including memorabilia, the documentary "Mornings with Shirley Povich," personal papers and work from his career at The Washington Post.


He is the father of attorney David Povich, American television personality Maury Povich
Maury Povich
Maurice Richard "Maury" Povich is an American TV talk show host who currently hosts his self-titled talk show Maury.-Personal background:...

, and editor Lynn Povich. He was fond of giving Louisville Slugger baseball bats as birthday presents to his friends' children. His wife Ethyl died in 2004.

External links