Nats name press box in honor of Povich
Legendary writer covered Washington baseball for decades
WASHINGTON -- Shirley Povich wasn't sitting in a press box the first time he saw a Major League baseball game -- he wasn't even in the stadium.
According to his son, accomplished talk-show host Maury, Shirley Povich sat out on Coogan's Bluff beyond the old Polo Grounds in Manhattan and watched the then-New York Giants and New York Yankees do battle in the 1922 World Series.
The catch? Povich's son said he could only see half of the field from where the famed journalist was sitting. The new media center that bears Povich's name certainly won't have that problem.
From that humble beginning, Povich launched an illustrious and storied career that spanned numerous Super Bowls and World Series, the Olympics and World War II. It was for that reason, as well as Povich's longtime commitment to Washington baseball, that the Nationals chose to christen the Shirley Povich Media Center, a two-story press facility at new Nationals Park.
"We couldn't think of anyone to name it for better," Nationals president Stan Kasten said to about 50 people assembled in the sixth-floor lobby of the media center.
Kasten led off the ceremony to officially dedicate the two-floor facility to the late sportswriter. He joined Povich's two sons, Maury and David, and daughter, Lynn, and members of the Lerner family to unveil two glass cases filled with memorabilia from Povich's career, including his typewriter and signature fedora.
But Maury Povich made sure to single out one piece of history the son called his father's "prized possession" -- a World Series medal from Washington's only championship, won over the New York Giants in 1924. The medal was on display with commemorative pins from many of the World Series that Povich covered throughout his career.
Maury Povich thanked the Nationals and the Lerner family for honoring his father. He said he thought the naming of the media center for Shirley Povich was most deserved, though he knew his father wouldn't agree.
"He thought that every pitch was fraught with the potential for excitement," Maury Povich said of his father's love for the game. "Baseball was so dear to him."
To finish the ceremony, members of the Povich and Lerner families, Kasten and representatives from the Washington Post stood behind home plate before Sunday's game against Texas -- the team that departed Washington in 1971, leaving the District without baseball for 34 years. Maury Povich said his father hated seeing the nation's capital without "a sport he loved more than anything" and lobbied hard for its return until his death in 1998.
"He would have been so excited about today's game," Maury Povich said. "He would have just gone crazy about writing about this game today. I think he probably would take his unbiased observer hat off and be a big Washington baseball fan today."
And so, as Frank Sinatra's "My Way" played over the loudspeaker, the Sunday afternoon sun shone brightly off the curly white "W" behind home plate, and Shirley Povich's dream of seeing balls and strikes return to Washington continued in the first season in the sparkling new stadium near the Anacostia River.
"When you think about all the events that my father covered, everywhere he went," Maury Povich said, "to the Olympics, to huge boxing matches, to events all over the world, the British Open -- what he cared about most was baseball."
Zachary Osterman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.