Jennifer Frey, a former Washington Post reporter who wrote with verve and flair for the newspaper’s Sports and Style sections for 13 years, died March 26 at a hospital in Washington. She was 47.
The cause was multiple organ failure, said her executor, Jody Goldstein.
Ms. Frey was hired by The Post in 1995 from the New York Times. At both newspapers, she distinguished herself as a sportswriter in an era when women remained unwelcome in many lockerrooms.
At the Times, she covered teams including the New York Mets, whose manager at the time, Dallas Green, once joked to reporters that he beat his wife and kicked the dog to vent his anger about a disappointing season.
“I found out the next day I was the only one who reported that,” Ms. Frey later told Salon magazine. “And that’s a direct reflection of the fact I was the only female in that room. . . . He was joking, everyone knew that, but I was the only one who thought it was inappropriate to make a joke about wife-beating.”
For The Post’s sports pages, Ms. Frey covered tennis but was best known as a general-assignment reporter who amassed a portfolio with datelines from athletic events around the world, including the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. George Solomon, a former assistant managing editor for sports at The Post, described her as a “tremendously talented individual” and “terrific writer” who “covered everything.”
She “cast herself as a throwback to an era when sports reporters were itinerants, forever on the road boozing with players in between composing elegies to their feats,” the late media critic David Carr wrote in the Washington City Paper in 1997. Carr wrote that she showed a “willingness to surrender a degree of professional distance” from the athletes she covered but described her as a “certified prodigy” who could “do it all.”
In 1999, Ms. Frey moved to the Style section, where her feature stories included a profile of Chamique Holdsclaw, a star basketball player for the Lady Volunteers of the University of Tennessee and later in the WNBA with the Washington Mystics. Ms. Frey subsequently co-authored Holdsclaw’s memoir “Chamique: On Family, Focus, and Basketball” (2000).
Ms. Frey left The Post in 2008 and did occasional freelance writing.
Jennifer Marie Frey was born on May 23, 1968, in St. Louis and grew up in Allegany, N.Y. She graduated in 1990 from Harvard University, where she studied history and literature and was sports editor of the Crimson.
Ms. Frey quickly learned the obstacles she would face as a female sportswriter. As an intern for the Detroit Free Press, she approached Detroit Tigers pitcher Jack Morris in the clubhouse.
“I don’t talk to women when I’m naked unless they’re on top of me or I’m on top of them,” she recalled the athlete telling her.
When the newspaper complained about Ms. Frey’s treatment, Bo Schembechler, then-president of the Tigers, wrote to the publisher that the pitcher’s remark was “predictable” and accused the newspaper of displaying a “lack of common sense” by dispatching Ms. Frey on the assignment.
Morris had “proceeded to answer questions from male reporters,” Ms. Frey told an interviewer. “It was merely because of my sex that I couldn’t do my job.”
She interned at the Miami Herald and reported for the Philadelphia Daily News before joining the Times in 1992.
Survivors include a daughter, Ryan Frey of Washington; Ms. Frey’s mother, Mary Terry of Allegany, N.Y.; and two brothers.