Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Great Columnist Passes

Frank Dolson died on Sunday. Many of the younger readers of this space won't recognize the name of one of the finest sports writers of a generation. I'll do what I can to give you an idea of what this guy meant to Philadelphia sports. An amazing writer, he retired in 1995 after a 41 year career in Philadelphia newspapers as a writer, columnist and sports editor. I still remember some of his best work, including his coverage of the Big Five and the Phillies pennants. When I was a younger man, Dolson was one of a few men who made me want to write about sports. His straightforward work was a celebration of the men who play the games and the people they play them for. He told their stories with a passion that jumped off the page and an authenticity that is near-absent from local newspapers today. To some extent I must confess that I miss the days before ESPN and pervasive local and satellite coverage. When the only way you could experience the thrill of the streamers unfurling at the Palestra was to be there or to read about it through the talents of a master like Dolson. His direct style let you add the embellishment, but left no room for confusion. Dolson's obituary notes that he was a life-long Yankees fan and got to spend a good portion of the last part of his life working for Steinbrenner. I'm happy for him that he had this opportunity, but sorry that the Boys in the Bronx were unable to get it done for him this fall. In his last gift to Philadelphia sports, Dolson, a 1954 Penn Wharton School graduate, established an endowment of $1.25 million to support fund the Penn Relays in perpetuity. It's a wonderful gift by a man whose mark will never fade from my memory. Thanks for the memories.

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