Frank Deford, Doctor of Letters

Benjamin Franklin Deford, you have electrified the field of sports journalism, with writing and broadcasting that crackles with insight, erudition, and an overhand smash of your namesake’s wit. Half the joy of watching sports is talking about them afterward—a genre in which you are the A-Rod . . . Wait, I take that back, the Barry Bonds . . . No, not him either . . . How about the Hank Aaron? Six times your peers have voted you U.S. Sportswriter of the Year. Twice the Washington Journalism Review has named you national magazine writer of the year. A triple threat, you are also an ace broadcaster and the author of almost a score of books, half of them novels. Since 1979, your commentaries on NPR have more often quoted Shakespeare than Berra and eschewed the ranting that now marks so much of sports commentary. Your focus, less on the score than on the characters, heroic and fallen, who play the games, encompasses much more than the world of sports, as your early attention to tennis and to female athletes hastened the growth of both in the nation’s consciousness. One reason you have been able to keep these subjects in perspective has been, by your account, the loss of your daughter to cystic fibrosis, as told in your book Alex: The Life of a Child. As a result, your career has run not only long, but deep.

I hereby declare you recipient of the honorary degree Doctor of Letters, entitled to all the rights, honors, and privileges appertaining thereto.

June 5, 2016