Diederich College of Communication Award Recipients
Journalism By-Line Award
MARY SCHMITT BOYER, JOUR '77
Avon Lake, Ohio
When you’re a sports journalist in a town like Cleveland — whose fans lost their beloved Browns in 1995 and a guy named LeBron James in 2010 — you don’t ever worry about lack of subject matter.
Just ask Mary Schmitt Boyer, a sports journalist for Ohio’s largest daily newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In more than 15 years on the beat, she has earned herself a rather rabid readership.
But no matter how high she has climbed, she always remembers how much she owes to her roots.
“I can safely say I would not be where I am today had Al McGuire not made it so easy and so much fun for me to cover the basketball team as sports editor for the Marquette Tribune when I was a junior,” Mary says.
From those early years covering McGuire to her days as a budding journalist to now, as an award-winning sportswriter who specializes in covering the NBA and the Olympics, Mary has worked at several highly regarded publications, including the then-Milwaukee Sentinel, then-Milwaukee Journal, Washington Post, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard, St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press and Kansas City Star.
Mary’s life in print doesn’t live and die with the dailies, however. She has written or co-authored several sports books with titles that speak for themselves: Browns Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Real Fan; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Heart-Pounding, Jaw-Dropping, and Gut-Wrenching Moments from Cleveland Indians History; Indians Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Real Fan!; The Inside Game: Race, Power, and Politics in the NBA; Welcome to the Jungle: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Bengals Fan!; The Complete Encyclopedia of Basketball; and Kobe Bryant: Unofficial.
With plenty of accolades that belong in the bio note on the inside flaps of her book’s dust jackets, you’ll also note that Mary was president of the Association for Women in Sports Media, secretary-treasurer of the Pro Basketball Writers Association and winner of the 2008 Association for Women in Sports Media Pioneer Award for career achievement.
Fun fact: Mary wanted McGuire to know how much he impacted her journalism career. “I wrote him a letter telling him that if he hadn’t made covering the basketball team so easy and fun, I would have become a nurse,” she says. “When he was dying, he sent out the little tin soldiers he’d collected as mementos. He sent me a little tin nurse. It is one of my most prized possessions.”