Writer and commentator Frank Deford was the author of 20 books. His latest, I'd Know That Voice Anywhere, is a collection of his NPR commentaries and was described by Chicago Tribune as "glorious, hitting all the notes from funny to emotional to profound. ... Once again, his words make sports come alive." Booklist calls it a "rich collection for anyone interested in the sporting life."
The collection was culled from Deford's commentaries on NPR's Morning Edition, dating back to 1980.
On television, Deford was a senior correspondent for 20 years on the HBO show Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel. In magazines, he was a senior contributing writer at Sports Illustratedfor 32 years and later became senior editor emeritus.
Two of Deford's books — the novel Everybody's All-Americanand Alex: The Life Of A Child, his memoir about his daughter who died of cystic fibrosis — have been made into movies. Two of his original screenplays, Trading Heartsand Four Minutes, have also been filmed.
President Obama presented Deford with the medal from the 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the first writer to receive this award primarily for his work in sports.
As a journalist, Deford was elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters. Deford was voted by his peers as U.S. Sportswriter of The Year six times. The American Journalism Reviewlikewise cited him as the nation's finest sportswriter, and twice he was voted Magazine Writer of The Year by the Washington Journalism Review.
Deford had also been presented with the National Magazine Award for profiles, a Christopher Award and journalism Honor Awards from the University of Missouri and Northeastern University, and he received many honorary degrees. The Sporting Newsonce described Deford as "the most influential sports voice among members of the print media," and GQ called him, simply, "the world's greatest sportswriter."
In broadcast, Deford won both an Emmy and a George Foster Peabody Award. ESPN presented a television biography of Deford's life and work, "You Write Better Than You Play." A popular lecturer, Deford spoke at more than a hundred colleges, as well as at forums, at conventions and on cruise ships around the world.
For 16 years, Deford served as national chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and he remains chairman emeritus. Deford was a graduate of Princeton University, where he had taught in American Studies.
When it comes to awards in theater or television or dance or literature, Frank Deford observes, candidates don't worry about losing out because of a personal flaw. Only sports applies that off-the-field standard.
America's Cup yachts can gracefully skim above water at better than 40 mph, but Frank Deford says when he looks back at the seven seas in 2013 he'll remember 64-year-old Nyad "plowing, all by herself, freestyle, through 100 miles of surf from Havana to Key West."
The Miami Marlins are back in the news. That's no surprise to Frank Deford, who thinks the team is one of the zaniest in baseball.