Several months ago Bob Addie's book was published. It had a simple but magnificent title: "Sports Writer."
Those who have been privileged to be sportswriters could not have chosen a more qualified authority to speak for us. Addie was indeed a sportswriter, and a gifted one at that. It was all he ever wanted to be.
Addie's sportswriting world reflected a wonderful imbalance. His stories and columns in the Washington Times-Herald and The Washington Post were devoted far more to the people who played the games than to the games. And that's the way it should be.
Addie was a fan's sportswriter. His friendships ranged from the sandlots to the superstars. I competed for stories against Addie, and covered events with him, for many years. He was tough, but fair. Always aboveboard. And he was kind and helpful.
Bob had been covering baseball for years for the Times-Herald by the time I inherited that assignment from Shirley Povich on The Washington Post in the late '40s. I cannot recall a single incident when Addie would not go out of his way to introduce me to the players, manager and team officials he knew so well.
He stopped just short of sharing information, although in a pinch Addie would do that, too. Burton Hawkins, who wrote baseball for The Washington Star in those days, Addie and I traveled together for years. It was good fun most of the time; but there was one incident in St. Louis which became slightly hairy, at least for me.
We were at the bar where we gathered frequently after a Senator loss, or infrequent victory, when a patron seated nearby requested the bartender to ask me if I wasn't Tom Harmon, the old Michigan star.
He had apparently been at the bar longer than we had. I told the bartender to thank the man for his compliment, but that I was not even an unreasonable facsimile of the great halfback. The man insisted that I was and made a personal trip to our drinking command post. Personal inspection only increased his suspicion that I was Harmon.
I suggested, rather harshly, that he should get lost, at which point he threatened to toss me off the rooftop. The fellow could have done this, too, and without spilling a drop. But Addie, never one to back off from words or possible blows, quickly intervened and restored order.
When the Harmon-seeker finally left, Addie began laughing. It was Addie, it turned out, who in passing the man's table earlier told him I was Tom Harmon.
If there were rewards for writing stories quickly, Addie would have retired the trophy. He was the fastest man behind a typewriter I have ever seen. He was also the busiest.
It was nothing during the course of a baseball game to see Addie write a running account of the game for an early edition of the next day's newspaper, write a story for The Sporting News, and a column for the next day. Then, after the completion of the game, he would rewrite his game story. It would all be done before anyone else was finished.
"Writing relaxes me," he would say.
Addie enabled Mickey Vernon to win his second major league batting championship in 1953 by reversing a scoring decision in which he had charged New York Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto with an error on Vernon's sharply hit ground ball.
The next day Rizzuto came to Addie and said the ball had taken a bad hop just as he was set to field it. Addie changed his ruling to a hit and Vernon wound up batting .337 to Cleveland's Al Rosen's .336.
Addie's favorite avocation, until he suffered the first of two strokes several years ago, was working in behalf of the Touchdown Club. Only Dutch Bergman, who founded the club, did more for the club and its charities than Bob Addie.
The Touchdown Club honored Addie in a unique way. Its members designated a special seat at the end of the bar where he held court regularly. It was called "Addie's End."
Morris Siegel, a former columnist with The Washington Star, Post and Daily News, is now a sports commentator for WJLA-TV-7.
Funeral services for Bob Addie will be conducted at noon Thursday at St. Bartholomew's Church in Bethesda. A memorial tribute is scheduled 10 a.m. Friday at the Touchdown Club in downtown Washington.