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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This person was one the first female sports writers in America. Here is her story.

Red Smith Award: Mary Garber

By AL THOMPSON
Scripps Howard News Service



LUNCHEON
Mary Garber is still breaking barriers at age 89.

Garber, whose sportswriting career spans more than 50 years, all of them at newspapers in Winston-Salem, N.C., was named the 2005 Red Smith Award winner at this year's APSE convention in Orlando. It is the first time in the award's 25-year history it has gone to a female sportswriter.

Garber, in failing health, was unable to attend the convention. But she did make an appearance on a short videotaped message.

She called receiving the Red Smith Award "the highest honor I've had in 50 years of sportswriting. ... It all goes back to my newspaper, who, after the war, gave me the chance to write sports ... because they thought it was the fair thing to do."

Garber scoffed at those who think newspapers are on the way out, noting that "every day at the (Winston-Salem) Journal we get calls from readers who say, 'I heard this on the radio' or 'I heard this on television.

Is it true?' When they really want to know they turn to us because they know we will be accurate. ... We accept this responsibility as a challenge."



Always a sports fan, Garber started her newspaper career at the Twin Cities Sentinel in Winston-Salem in 1941 as a society writer. She switched to her real love in 1944 when military service depleted the men on the sports staff. She briefly left sports when the men returned at the end of World War II, but talked her way back into the department in 1946.

She never left, covering virtually every prep and college sport — including the prestigious Atlantic Coast Conference — from then until her 'retirement' in 1986 at age 70. Even in retirement she kept working as a freelance writer for her newspaper.

Accepting the award on her behalf was Garber's nephew, Dr. Daniel Brown of Twin Falls, Idaho.

Dr. Brown said he tries to get back to Winston-Salem a couple of times a year and almost always runs into someone "Mary had written about 30 or 40 years ago."

Almost invariably, he said, they fumble around in a wallet or purse for a faded and torn copy of an article she had written. "She had a profound impact on a huge number of people," he said.

Dr. Brown noted that of all the sweeping changes that occurred during Garber's long career, one of the most profound was integration. And here too she was a pioneer.

In the 1940s, in the heart of the segregated South, Garber went to her editors and was given permission to cover sports at the black high schools in the community.

"This was a big deal for the black community in Winston-Salem," Dr. Brown said. His voice choked with emotion, he told of one incident when, as the only white person at an event, Garber overhead two boys talking about her.

"Who is she?" one asked. "What's she doing here?"



"She's a sportswriter," said the other, "and if you do something good she'll write about you."

Los Angeles Times sports editor Bill Dwyre, himself a Red Smith Award winner and former APSE president, recalled talking with Tracy Dodds, another former APSE president, about the battles of female sportswriters such as Stephanie Salter, Joan Ryan and Leslie Visser in the 1970s and early 1980s to break into what had long been a men's-only field.

"I remember Tracy Dodds ... saying she had just read about somebody named Mary Garber and as we talked about it we both realized that here was truly a pioneer," Dwyre said, "well before any of those I mentioned."

Equally generous was Billie Jean King, who has blazed a few trails of her own over the years.

"Sadly, there were no female sportswriters (on hand) when I faced Bobby Riggs (at the Astrodome in 1973)," King said in a prepared statement. "It was a sign of the times and I have always wished that Mary would have been there because her take on that night would have been special.

"Congratulations, Mary. This is another first for you. ... Once again you lead the way for all of us who will continue to open doors for others."
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Here is a story about Mary being ill and get well wishes.

AWSM Tribute to Mary Garber

The AWSM board of directors has decided that, beginning in 2006, the annual AWSM Pioneer Award will be renamed in honor of Mary Garber.


photo by Diane K. Gentry

A message from 2005 Pioneer Award Winner Cathy Henkel:

The real pioneer of women's sportswriting, Mary Garber, turned 89 on April 16, but is failing. It would be wonderful if we could give her an old-fashioned card shower. She was AWSM's special guest at our Minneapolis convention a few years back, and if you were there, you'll never forget her. Time to remember her now, and all she did to pave the way for the rest of us.

Her old sports editor says she just got out of the hospital, with a compression fracture in three vertebrae. And she can barely see, which is sad since she was such a voratious reader. She is in an assisted living home now recuperating, and was devasted also this week with the death of Big House Gaines, who was like a brother to her. Her sister can read the cards to her, and just their presence would mean a lot.

Cards could be sent to:
Mary Garber
419 N. Stratford Rd.
Winston-Salem, NC 27104

UPDATE: As an organization, AWSM sent Mary a card and flowers as a "get well soon/congrats on the award" message. She liked it so much she sent us a card with her thanks.

http://www.awsmonline.org/Garber.htm
 

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I think that you'll find that female sportswriters go back quite a bit before that. In Australia, for example, Joan Hammond was writing about golf in the early 1930s (?) and she wasn't the first.
 

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I think that you'll find that female sportswriters go back quite a bit before that. In Australia, for example, Joan Hammond was writing about golf in the early 1930s (?) and she wasn't the first.
If you look at my quote "This person was one the first female sports writers in America." I forgot to put the "one of the first" I was quite aware of others before Mary in America and elsewhere. Sportswriting in America wasn't that big till Damon Runyan and Allison Danzing came into the scene that was in the 1920's and 1930'a. Sports wasn't that big in America till the 20's with WWI being over and new sense of optimism reflected by athletes like Babe Ruth, Bill Tilden, Helen Wills, Jack Dempsey, Red Grange, and others in America. I thought I heard about a cricket writer who was a woman as well.
 
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