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|Povich covered several generations of big-leaguers, including Yankees legends Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra.|
|ESPN BOOK CLUB|
Check out these other ESPN Book Club selections:|
• February: "The Miracle of St. Anthony" by Adrian Wojnarowski
• January: "Unforgivable Blackness" by Geoffrey C. Ward
• November: "When Nothing Else Matters: Michael Jordan's Last Comeback" by Michael Leahy
• October: "Friday Night Lights" by H.G. Bissinger
|The 'PTI' guys remember Shirley Povich|
The night in 1995 that Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played Shirley rode up to Camden Yards to cover the game. He was one of two people in the stands that night who had also been to Gehrig's farewell game in 1939 the other was Gehrig's teammate at that time, Joe DiMaggio.|
Lots of thrilling things happened that night, including Cal hitting a homer and then, pushed out there by his teammates, Cal taking that victory lap around the outfield, shaking hands with as many fans as he could reach. The spontaneity of that moment, the waterfall of joy pouring out from everybody in that stadium gives me chills still as I recall it. But the greatest thrill for me that night was to be sitting next to Shirley in the press box. I was on his right, and my colleague and friend Michael Wilbon was on Shirley's left. It was like we'd won the lottery and became Shirley's honor guard. Usually we are big yakkers, Wilbon and I. But on this night we were spellbound in silence, listening to Shirley tell stories about Gehrig, Ruth and DiMaggio. It was an oral history of the golden age of baseball.
Late in the game somebody fouled a pitch back sharply to the press box. I saw the ball heading straight at Shirley, and I reached for it to protect him. Fortunately, it missed Shirley and landed harmlessly in Wilbon's ample stomach.
I was a rookie reporter in 1980 when I met Shirley Povich for the first time. I didn't have a car and caught a ride with Shirley to Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland, for a closed-circuit telecast of a fight. I had been assigned to write a local reaction story and I was scared to death. Shirley told me, "It's natural to be nervous. Don't worry about it. I remember one of the first fights I covered ..." Shirley paused and I thought he'd say Joe Louis-Max Schmeling, 1938. But he said, "It was Dempsey-Tunney in 1927, the long-count fight."
I was stunned. My awe of him overwhelmed my anxiety. Like everyone else I ever knew who wanted to be a sportswriter, I idolized Shirley Povich. I loved him, treasured him, pinched myself that he knew my name and that I got to sit next to him at games, genuflected at every single encounter with him. He wanted young writers to treat him as an equal, but I couldn't. Every year we worked together it became more difficult.
|Povich's streak lasted longer than Cal Ripken's.|