EIVING EARTHLY 10-COUNT
Philadelphia is a city that not only has produced its quota and then some of outstanding boxers, but of writers who wrote elegantly and passionately about the sport.
Just five days after Philly lost one of its sports writing legends, Stan Hochman, the city was jolted by the news that Sandy Grady had joined his fellow legend in receiving an earthly 10-count.
Ironically, Hochman – the recipient of the 1991 Nat Fleischer for excellence in boxing journalism from the Boxing Writers Association of America, and Grady, who received the BWAA’s A.J. Liebling Award for outstanding boxing writing – were both hired by then-Philadelphia Daily News sports editor Larry Merchant in the 1950s. Hochman, who was 86 when he passed away on April 9, was followed in death by Grady, 87, on April 14.
The passing of Hochman and Grady in such close proximity to one another hit Merchant hard, as it did many longtime readers of Philadelphia newspapers. But there were differences between them. While both were highly skilled wordsmiths, the gentlemanly Hochman was born in Brooklyn and was more than comfortable in urban settings; Grady, born in Charlotte, N.C., always carried himself with a genteel charm that was reflective of his roots.
“When I brought Sandy in, he was an instant star,” recalled Merchant, who went on to a long career as a boxing commentator for HBO Sports. “He was just one of those brilliant Southern writers. There was a grace to his writing, a kind of naturalism. He wrote beautiful sentences.”
Grady had two stints at the Daily News, the first as a sports columnist, the second as a Virginia-based political reporter. In between, did most of his boxing writing at the now-defunct Evening Bulletin in Philly.
“I love boxing because of the characters, like you find in no other sport,” he said upon being informed that he had won the Liebling, which he was not able to accept in person at the 89th annual BWAA Awards Dinner in Las Vegas because of an ongoing battle with cancer. “There are characters in politics, but they aren’t as colorful.”
The incredible journalistic legacies of both Hochman and Grady will be acknowledged at the 90th annual BWAA Awards Dinner on April 24 at Capitale in New York City.