The Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will publish each week a sketch on one of the FWAA’s most important leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.
The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973. The McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.
For a list of all the winners go to: http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.
The following is the 13th installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Pat Harmon was the 2004 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.
By Gene Duffey
Bill Koch covered the Cincinnati Reds for only half a season for the Cincinnati Post. Wherever he traveled around the National League, a similar scene would unfold. Other writers would ask Koch about Pat Harmon, the columnist/sports editor at the Post.
“He knew everybody,” said Koch. “When they found out I was from the Cincinnati Post, they wanted to know how Pat was. Jim Murray (the legendary columnist from the Los Angeles Times) even asked how Pat was. I found out what a big deal he was.”
Most sports columnists become well known in their own market. It seemed that Harmon was well known in every market.
“I was always amazed how many sports personalities he knew around the country,” said Barry Cobb, who worked for the Post for 38 years. “He knew everybody. He knew all the big athletes, owners, coaches.”
Harmon built his reputation as a gregarious guy with wavy red hair who enjoyed a beer or two, occasionally with his old baseball announcing buddy, Harry Caray.