Frank Deford, a legend in the world of sports journalism, has died at age 78 in Key West, Florida, according to his wife, Carol Penner Deford.
The Baltimore native spent 50 years writing for Sports Illustrated, but some might be more acquainted with his booming voice delivering his unique takes on sports on National Public Radio. Deford also wrote 18 books, nine of them novels — such as “Everybody’s All-American” — in a wide-ranging career.
Deford had announced his retirement from NPR after 37 years earlier this month.
“I have survived so long because I’ve been blessed with talented and gracious colleagues, and with a top brass who let me choose my topics every week and then allowed me to express opinions that were not always popular,” he said. “Well, someone had to stand up to the yackety-yak soccer cult.
“And perhaps just as important, I’ve been blessed with you, with a broad and intelligent audience — even if large portions thereof haven’t necessarily given a hoot about sports. Nothing has pleased me so much as when someone — usually a woman — writes me or tells me that she’s appreciated sports more because NPR allowed me to treat sports seriously, as another branch on the tree of culture.”
Deford received the National Humanities Medal in 2013 from President Barack Obama. He was also named to the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, was voted Sportswriter of the Year numerous times, won a Peabody Award and an Emmy, and in 2013 was given the PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing.