Prologue: Working at a newspaper was not my intended career. I was a TV/Radio major at Brooklyn College in the late 1970s. I actually settled on that “discipline” because by the time I was a junior, that was where I had the most credits. And when I was offered a free ride for a Masters program, I took it, delaying the onset of adult responsibilities for another couple of years. I had the chance to get in at CNN on the ground floor when it launched in the late 1970s, but decided I’d rather spend one more summer as a counselor at a camp in Quebec. In fact, out of the 13 students who were part of that two-year program, I believe I’m the only one who didn’t go into the industry.
When I got back I took some temp work and ended up in the PR department of a major Jewish defense organization where I told myself I would only do until something better came along.
Fast-forward 20+ years. When a new “regime” set in around 2004, the new president decided the organization no longer needed its own PR department, choosing instead to use a “boutique firm to the stars” with which he had long been associated. So I was given the “choice” of working for the executive director in an underling role at a reduced salary (of course) or leaving the company. I opted for the latter, taking a fairly decent severance package.
It was a bit of a struggle for a couple of years to find something else. I had the good fortune of finding some freelance work for NJJN which eventually led to full-time employment and ultimately this blog you are reading now.
One of the nice things about the job here (in addition to being employed full-time again) is that it’s given me the opportunity to meet some quality people I probably would not get to know otherwise. People like Maury Allen.
(Boy, that took a long time to get to the point, didn’t it?)
I first met Maury — a veteran author and baseball writer for Sports Illustrated and the New York Post — in 2005 when I did an article about him when he moved into the area. Since I was still quite green, I was a bit tentative in reaching out to celebrities, but I found him immediately welcoming and accommodating. I got the feeling he enjoyed making new acquaintances and, in turn, enjoyed speaking with him on a variety of subjects (he was an avid movie buff). He became my go-to guy when I needed a quick comment on a breaking baseball story and I would make it a point to attend his local appearances at the near-by Yogi Berra Museum.
Sadly, Maury passed away from lymphoma in October 2010. I was grateful to have the opportunity to say goodbye to him at his home with his lovely wife, Janet, shortly before the end. He had a marvelous memorial at the YBM, attended by such colleagues as Ira Berkow, Marty Appel, George Vecsey, Done Gould, and others.
I bring all this up because Maury was recently honored by his alma mater, CCNY, with the prestigious the Townsend Harris Medal. The award is named for City College’s founder in recognition of outstanding post-graduate achievements.
Janet and their son, Ted, accepted the award on Maury’s behalf.
“The dinner was great,” Janet said in an email. “I had fun accepting for Maury, as I used an old football CCNY shirt (MUCH the worse for wear) as a prop during my very short acceptance speech. People seemed to get a big kick out of it, which was the idea. These dinners can run a loooong time. Ted went with me, and was great to have along.
” I have a lovely framed document, but even nicer is the Townsend Harris Medal that they gave me. Nice memories, which could only have been improved had Maury been able to accept them in person.”
Here are some links to my previous stories about Maury from the blog and the newspaper:
- Honorable menschen
- A few thoughts on Maury
- More on Maury
- Maury Allen and Fritz Peterson: Together again for the first time
- Jewish writers recall Stadium memories
- ‘Burning’ Man: How Maury Allen kept Yankees series true-to-life
- Trio of columnists open eyes, doors for next generation