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Requiem for a Sportswriting Heavyweight

Capital Gazette

You know the kind of friend that you don’t see all that regularly, but when you do, you always walk away thinking, ‘Man, I wish we hung out more?”

That’s what John McNamara was to me. There was never a time over the 37 years I knew John where I didn’t leave the meeting feeling better.

Our encounters were occasionally social, but usually we ran into each other in a press box or at a practice facility with one or both of us holding a notebook and swapping jokes while waiting to talk to athletes or coaches.

We first met at Annapolis Hall on the University of Maryland campus in August of 1981. He lived in room 2114 and I was in 2116.

When we were introduced, John was a junior editor at the Diamondback student newspaper and I was a wet-behind-the-ears freshman trying to catch on at the campus radio station.

His love of the New York Mets and the Knicks and my fondness for the Orioles and the Bullets meant that we never would see eye-to-eye on professional teams.

But what we had in common was a love for all things Terps, especially basketball, the difference being was while I was a fan of the game, John was a student.

John became the quintessential sportswriter, the guy who could watch a game, pick it apart, spin a beautiful yarn on deadline with time to spare and hold court at a local establishment afterwards.

John was a gifted news and feature writer as well, but sports was his bailiwick.

If you lived in Hagerstown, Prince George’s County or Annapolis and you got to read John McNamara’s prose, you read one of the best.

I’m speaking of John in the past tense, because he and four other employees of the Capital-Gazette newspapers were murdered last Thursday in Annapolis..

John, Rob Hiaasen, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith and Gerald Fischman were gunned down as they went about their jobs. Their deaths are a part of what has become a uniquely reoccurring American event, on a uniquely reoccurring American day.

Once again, in our country, someone with a gripe grabbed a firearm and began shooting. Last Thursday’s event marked the 154th mass shooting in this country in 2018 alone. Today marks just over halfway through the year and we’re averaging just under one of these per day.

This doesn’t happen in any other supposedly sophisticated country on this planet, and the fact that we continue to turn a blind eye to the carnage in the name of permitting the unabridged right to own a gun is insane.

You may not have come here for this, but the fact is I won’t get to read any new material from my friend John McNamara and neither will you.

I won’t get to close down the TGI Friday’s in Greenbelt after a Maryland game and hear John dissect why the new point guard needs a little more time to develop.

Most importantly, John and Andrea, the girl he fell in love with in college and never stopped adoring, won’t get to grow old together. And that fact supersedes your right to a gun, in my book.

So long, John. I wish we had hung out more.

And that’s how I see it for this week.