Frank Deford has died
May 30, 2017 2:05 PM   Subscribe

Hall of Fame Sportswriter and long-time NPR sports broadcaster, Frank DeFord, has died at 78. I have never been a sports fan but always eagerly tuned in to listen to his magnificent voice and witty remarks. He will be sorely missed.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat (41 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
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His articles in Sports Illustrated were always worth reading.
posted by tavella at 2:09 PM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh!

I always loved hearing him on the radio. His story about Ruffian (the horse) and his daughter made me actually cry.

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posted by suelac at 2:16 PM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]




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posted by Thorzdad at 2:28 PM on May 30, 2017


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posted by LeftMyHeartInSanFrancisco at 2:53 PM on May 30, 2017


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posted by ZeusHumms at 2:54 PM on May 30, 2017


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posted by bz at 2:55 PM on May 30, 2017


I remember having my heart broken by the Readers Digest version of Alex: The Life of a Child years before I realized he was the same writer I loved reading in SI. I only half facetiously blame him for my weakness for sports writing and career in healthcare.
posted by jacy at 3:06 PM on May 30, 2017


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(you know, for his mustache)
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:07 PM on May 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


I always enjoyed his commentary; he seemed even older than 78 to me, and came across as wise, if sometimes curmudgeonly. His retirement seemed sudden to me; his death so soon afterwards makes me think he was one of those people for whom their work is their life, and reminded me of Charles Schulz. But his family was obviously important to him as well. His piece about Ruffian and Alex that suelac mentioned really is moving.

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posted by TedW at 3:13 PM on May 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


His farewell on NPR earlier this month made me cry.

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posted by bibliowench at 3:36 PM on May 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


One of the rare commentators who could talk about sports I didn't care about and yet still command my full attention.

And I truly looked forward to the rare times he talked about hockey.

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posted by lumpenprole at 3:46 PM on May 30, 2017 [5 favorites]


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posted by Silverstone at 3:58 PM on May 30, 2017


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(You know, for his sideburns.)

Always loved his writing, and his voice was the cherry on top whenever NPR ran one of his pieces.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:59 PM on May 30, 2017


Hands down my favorite NPR commentator: gosh, everyone else sounded so sedate and adult after him. Loved to hear him rail on about the NCAA. He infused every one of his radio pieces with wit and verve. I'll miss him a lot.
posted by apparently at 4:03 PM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


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posted by dogstoevski at 4:34 PM on May 30, 2017


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posted by penduluum at 4:58 PM on May 30, 2017


. He asked the right questions about sports. The costs, the racial reality, all of it.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:59 PM on May 30, 2017 [5 favorites]


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posted by languagehat at 5:46 PM on May 30, 2017


i am a sports fan, but i mostly love his interviews and essays on the very fringes of the sports world (but definitely still entertainment). anything on roller derby is a must read.
posted by lescour at 5:55 PM on May 30, 2017


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Not a SPORTBALL! fan, but he wrote about sports and told sports stories and their accompanying cultural touchstones with joy and respect.
posted by zuhl at 6:04 PM on May 30, 2017


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Hearing his voice felt like a hug.
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:06 PM on May 30, 2017 [4 favorites]


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posted by Cash4Lead at 7:41 PM on May 30, 2017


His was the voice in my garage on a Saturday morning, the double-door up and neighbors walking their dogs as I got out my tools and made a go at being the handy man my father was. Made for an audio version of a Norman Rockwell painting.
posted by hal9k at 7:46 PM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


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made me appreciate sports. I will miss him.
posted by hollyanderbody at 7:57 PM on May 30, 2017


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posted by me3dia at 7:59 PM on May 30, 2017


My dad had a Sports Illustrated subscription continuously from their third issue (or thereabouts) until the day he died in 2008.

I was never as sports obsessed as the rest of (his side of) my extended family, but I've discovered over that I picked up more than I realized. And much of that was reading SI.

But specifically Deford -- his writing was phenomenal and always thoughtful and memorable. He certainly must be the first magazine writer I ever knew of by name.

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posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:01 PM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


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posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:29 PM on May 30, 2017


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posted by The Card Cheat at 9:31 PM on May 30, 2017


Aw.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:38 PM on May 30, 2017


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posted by From Bklyn at 11:31 PM on May 30, 2017


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posted by Gotanda at 12:19 AM on May 31, 2017


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posted by MikeWarot at 3:41 AM on May 31, 2017


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I loved listening to his commentary on NPR, and was thrilled to have caught his last show. This is really sad to hear.
posted by Fig at 3:50 AM on May 31, 2017


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posted by valkane at 3:59 AM on May 31, 2017


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posted by Gelatin at 5:07 AM on May 31, 2017


His was a voice that dripped with a sarcasm of the finest vintage. I was so sad when he retired -- like lumpenprole and Ivan Fyodorovitch, I care liitle for most sports but loved his wit and voice so much -- even sadder to hear he had passed so soon after. PBS ran a clip a few days ago of his explanation why he disliked soccer that was so succinct and thoughtful that it was an epitome of his gifts.
posted by y2karl at 6:06 AM on May 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


He certainly will be missed by me. The second segment of this week's Hang Up and Listen was a loving tribute to Frank via an interview with another sportswriter and former employee of Frank's.
posted by mmascolino at 7:25 AM on May 31, 2017


As a father, I have deliberately avoided reading Alex: The Life of a Child for fear that it will break my heart. I know DeFord's writing well enough to know what it will do, in service to such a subject. But I think I should go ahead and read it anyway.

His article on Jimmy Connors, "Raised by Women to Conquer Men," is quite incredible. One of many such by him.
posted by Caxton1476 at 10:56 AM on May 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


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posted by ikahime at 2:31 PM on May 31, 2017


Charles Pierce's moving obituary in Sports Illustrated, which begins with Deford writing about his late daughter.
posted by TedW at 5:03 AM on June 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


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