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Monday, December 21, 2020

'I Just Wanted To Write'

“The trick, I suppose (to writing successful books) is to keep readers’ interest up before you get to the ending.  Above all, you want the main character to be someone you like and you root for.” – Frank Deford


Born in Baltimore on Dec. 16, 1938 Deford was the first sports journalist ever selected for the National Press Foundation’s highest honor – the W.M. Kiplinger Award for Distinguished Contributions in Journalism.   He also earned The William Allen White Citation for Excellence in Journalism – another rare recognition for a sportswriter. 


Besides thousands of sports features done during his 50-plus year career (he died in 2017), Deford penned 18 books (9 of them novels), all bestsellers.  He also was a regular commentator on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.


One of Deford’ nonfiction works was the moving Alex: The Life of a Child, made into an award-winning movie and written in honor of his daughter, who died at age 8 from Cystic Fibrosis.  After her death, Deford devoted his life helping those suffering from the terrible disease.


After graduating from Princeton in 1962, Deford began his career as a researcher at Sports Illustrated and never left, writing his first articles in 1963.  “I never wanted to be an editor. I never wanted to be a boss,” he said.  “I just wanted to write, and it didn't make any difference whether it was fiction or nonfiction or short stories or whatever. I just – well, that's what I was destined to do.”





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