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John Steadman

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John Francis Steadman

  • Bats Right
  • Height 6' 2", Weight 165 lb.

BR Minors page

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[edit] Biographical Information

John Steadman was a Baltimore-based sportswriter who covered the second half of the 20th Century and then some: his career spanned 7 decades and he attended and reported on every Super Bowl from its inception until his death.

Steadman attended the Baltimore City College high school and was once a minor league baseball player. He decided to leave baseball in order to become a sportswriter. He was originally hired by the Baltimore News-Post in 1945 as a $14 a week reporter, and in 1952 broke the news of Baltimore's reentry into the NFL. Steadman went to every Baltimore football game from 1947 to December 10, 2000, a streak of 719 games. He was also one of only eight writers to attend all 34 Super Bowls, through Super Bowl XXXIV. He was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 2000. [1]

A Baltimore native, Mr. Steadman grew up in Govans, the son of the city's deputy fire chief. He sneaked into baseball games through loose boards at old Oriole Park.

Mr. Steadman graduated from City College, where he lettered in baseball, football and basketball and wrote for the school newspaper. Signed as a catcher by the Pittsburgh Pirates, he spent one season in the minors and hit .125, appearing in 1945 for the York White Roses and Salisbury Pirates before swapping his bat for a pencil.

Mr. Steadman established his reputation early on. In 1952, he scooped the country with a story on Baltimore's return to the National Football League -- a piece that earned him a $25 bonus.

"John had a thousand sources. He could find out stuff that no one else knew," said Brooks Robinson, the Orioles' Hall of Fame third baseman. "He wouldn't ask you a thousand questions, either; people volunteered information to him."

In 1958, Mr. Steadman was named sports editor -- the youngest at a big-city paper. He held that job until the demise of the News American in 1986. Readers embraced Mr. Steadman's comfortable, conversational style. What he lacked in lyricism, colleagues said, he made up for in legwork.

Mr. Steadman's unabashed empathy for the underdog was legendary. He gravitated toward sports personalities who had overcome hardships. Here, a story on a blind baseball announcer; there, one on an ice-skating coach who'd lost both legs. Upbeat articles, all -- and readers devoured them.

Mr. Steadman enjoyed writing against the grain. "He wrote a couple of articles that got people a little whacked out, like when he 'talked' to Babe Ruth in heaven," Brooks Robinson said. "But I enjoyed the offbeat stuff. John could be serious, but he also had that self-deprecating wit."

Once, at spring training, Mr. Steadman cajoled the Orioles into letting him catch -- and got conked by a Hoyt Wilhelm knuckleball. "It might be feasible for baseball players to write stories for newspapers," he wrote ruefully, "but sportswriters should not try to 'switch hit.' "

When the News American folded, Steadman joined the staff of The Baltimore Evening Sun. Despite a fervid following, he greeted the public with characteristic humility: "Our profound wish is The Baltimore Sun and you, the readership, have the tolerance to put up with the 'new kid' who has appeared in your midst."

When the Evening Sun folded in 1995, he moved to The Baltimore Sun.

A lifetime member of the Professional Baseball Players Association, Steadman belonged to the Baseball Writers, Football Writers and Pro Football Writers associations. He also served on the selection committee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 2001, he won the Red Smith Award.

He won three Freedom Foundation medals -- one for writing and two for radio commentaries -- and wrote seven books, notably "The Best (And Worst) of Steadman," an anthology of columns that in 1975 won the Dick McCann Memorial Award for Distinguished Writing. [2]

[edit] Further Reading

  • Michael Klingman: "A Baltimore legend, champion of underdogs", The Baltimore Sun, January 2, 2001, p. 1A. [1]
  • John Steadman: "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, May 1970, pp. 33-36. [2]

[edit] Related Sites

[edit] Notes

  1. Meet the Sports Writers - Page 18: Scroll down to #433.
  2. Michael Klingman: "A Baltimore legend, champion of underdogs," The Baltimore Sun (January 2, 2001), p. 1A
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