A Front-Row Seat with the Sportswriters Who Sat There

Sit down with host Todd Jones and other sportswriters who knew the greatest athletes and coaches, and experienced first-hand some of the biggest sports moments in the past 50 years. They’ll share stories behind the stories -- some they’ve only told to each other.

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Mark Whicker: “We Turn to Athletes to Reaffirm Who We Are.”

Mark Whicker: “We Turn to Athletes to Reaffirm Who We Are.”

Our 40th guest on Press Box Access is the esteemed Mark Whicker, one of my all-time favorite writers and people in the sports media business. He takes us on a winding road through his career of nearly five decades. We’re in locker rooms with Julius Erving, Darryl Dawkins, Pete Rose and Tug McGraw. There are late nights with a baseball GM known as “The Pope,” fan fights at The Vet, and police horses on a World Series field. Mark puts in the Forum Club for the jammed press conference when Magic Johnson announced he had HIV. He recounts a special column about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the fans’ roar that carried Cathy Freeman to a gold medal, and what it was like at the 2001 World Series in New York weeks after the 9/11 attacks. Hear why Mark thinks David Thompson was the most important basketball player in ACC history, what it was like to witness meltdowns by Jean van de Velde and Greg Norman, and how there was menace in the Miami air on the night Aaron Pryor fought Alexis Arguello. And much more.

Whicker spent the bulk of his 48 years as a sportswriter and award-winning columnist in southern California and Philadelphia. The Associated Press Sports Editors twice voted him a top 10 columnists in the nation, and he won three state Sportswriter of the Year awards. Mark received the 2014 Nat Fleischer Award, presented by the Boxing Writers Association of America for his distinguished coverage of many of the marquee fights since the late 1970s. In 2020, he was named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame.

Mark’s career began in 1974 at the Winston-Salem Journal in his home state of North Carolina. He then worked at the Dallas Times-Herald before joining the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin (1978-82), where he covered the Phillies and the 76ers as a beat reporter before being promoted to sports columnist. He moved to the Philadelphia Daily News in 1982, where he was a columnist until heading to southern California in 1987. There he served as sports columnist at the Orange County Register for 27 years until 2014. He wrote for the Los Angeles Daily News/LA News Group from 2014 until his retirement in February 2022, which concluded 35 years with the Southern California News Group.

Although he retired, Mark is still writing about sports. You can read his column called “The Morning After” on Substack.com. He’s also writing plays, two of which have been performed in southern California in the past couple of years.

Mark graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1973. He lives in Long Beach, Ca., with his wife, Robyn Norwood – a former sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times (1986 to 2008) and son.

Follow Mark at @MWhicker03

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