At the APSE awards banquet on June 18 in Indianapolis, former APSE president Paul Anger honored Ed Storin, one of the organization’s founders and the longtime sports editor of the Miami Herald who died this year. Here are Paul’s remarks:
It’s rewarding to me and those of us who go back a ways with APSE to see just how much APSE has persevered. I mean, as Gary Potosky takes a well-earned rest and my friend Jorge Rojas steps forward, you’re doing more now than EVER!
The critiques, student awards, diversity fellowships, APSE foundation, smart workshops, all the web members, adoption of digital and social media, audience assessments, Sandy [Rosenbush] and Leon [Carter] and the Sports Journalism Institute going strong …
If Ed Storin were here, he would join me in saluting you. But tonight, let’s take a few minutes to salute HIM.
I succeeded Eddie as Miami Herald sports editor in 1977, and one way or another I reported to him for 19 years. I came to know him SO well, and I reached a DEEP appreciation of what he did for sports journalism.
Eddie – and I always called him Eddie — helped create APSE. He pioneered improvements to sports coverage still relevant today. He had key roles with APSE for more than 32 years.
And he never stopped looking forward.
Ginny Storin, who at age 91 couldn’t make it here tonight, was married to Ed for 69 years. She asked me to let you all know this, above all, about him:
“Ed did not believe,” quoting Ginny, “that the retreat of the printed newspaper was the end of organizations like APSE. It would have to evolve and adapt, but it would still be a valuable presence in the media.”
Ed Storin was there almost 50 years ago when a handful of sports editors gathered to plan a new organization that would raise the standards of sports coverage — and shed forever the toy department stereotype.
Quoting Ginny Storin again: “Ed always felt that sports was the stepchild of the newsroom … He wanted sports editors and writers to get the same respect from management. He felt a national organization was necessary to uphold the standards and dignity of sports departments.”
Dave Smith, APSE’s catalyst and first president when he was at the Boston Globe, remembers that initial brainstorming – held at a New York hotel that he described as “not exactly the Waldorf.”
The hotel didn’t offer a meeting room. Instead, the brainstormers pulled up vinyl chairs by the hotel swimming pool. Imagine that scene — kids splashing, parents shouting …
As Dave recalled, “We couldn’t even hear what we were saying to each other.”
Yet somehow, APSE was born — thanks to Dave, Ed, and others such as Joe McGuff of the Kansas City Star, Wayne Fuson of the Indianapolis News, and Earl Cox of the Louisville Courier-Journal.
The birth wasn’t easy-peasy. One sports editor walked out of an early APSE meeting when a code of ethics was created, banning freebies. Top editors at some papers thought APSE would simply give sports editors a forum to drink beer, smoke cigars and play cards. Well, we have evolved — now we drink wine, too.
How APSE has grown! Think for a moment about that first crazy meeting, and how a thread runs for almost five decades straight from that swimming pool to this ballroom.
And I’d argue that during that time, NOBODY had more lasting impact on both sports journalism and APSE than Ed Storin.
As Herald sports editor, he was a pioneer in using color action photos, meticulously planning big-event coverage, and setting a high bar for staff members – putting us through his own boot camp.
From his time at The Herald, I can count almost 20 staff members who went on to run their own sports or news departments — or entire newsrooms.
Eddie also set an expectation that we’d move beyond the good old white boys’ club. When I got to the Herald – remember, this is 1972 — our summer sports intern was a woman. Eddie wanted to diversify the staff – determined to do it. That became one of our foremost goals.
Christine Brennan, hired more than 40 years ago to cover University of Florida football, told Meri-Jo Borzilleri in a story posted on the APSE website that she appreciated how The Herald stood with her to fight locker-room battles. Quoting Chris: “I was so fortunate that my career began at a place run by someone with the integrity and dignity of Ed Storin.”
He played key roles as an APSE member for 16 years, then became APSE secretary-treasurer for 16 more. He’s the only person to win both the Jack Berninger Award for Meritorious Service and the Red Smith Award.
But the awards, as meaningful as they are, don’t really help answer these questions …
What was Eddie like, and why was he so successful?
Just how did he impact APSE?
And what lessons can we still learn from him?
I’m fully qualified to fill in the blanks.
I not only worked with Eddie, but I also had lunch with him and columnist Edwin Pope – another Red Smith winner – 3-4 days a week, year in and year out. I watched Eddie eat London broil, boiled potatoes, grilled cheese, Jell-O, spaghetti without meat balls, and frozen yogurt. And nothing else. Salads didn’t have a chance with Eddie.
Here’s the point — Eddie was consistent in EVERYTHING he did, day in and day out, and that was one secret to his success.
Eddie’s standards didn’t change day to day, no matter his mood, any pressure he was under, or which side of bed he got out of. Didn’t change from one staff member to another. We always knew what was expected.
SO — what was Eddie like?
Well, in time he could be the most loyal, caring friend you’d ever have in your life. But at first, if you worked for him …
He was TERRIFYING! He was Old School. He was The Boss. You had to meet his standards.
I was hired by Eddie onto the Herald sports desk when I was 23 years old, fresh from the state desk of the Fond du Lac Reporter in Wisconsin. After a couple months at the Herald, I timidly knocked on Eddie’s office door. Cigar smoke wafted out. I leaned in and said:
“Eddie, I just want to ask — how am I doing on the desk? Am I doing OK?”
He said, “Paul, you’re doing fine. If you weren’t, you would have HEARD from me.”
I wasn’t alone – not at the Herald and not in APSE — in both fearing Eddie a little bit and wanting to meet his expectations.
Former APSE President Bill Eichenberger put it this way: “He was APSE. The sort of strong, principled leader you did not want to disappoint. I always strived to make him proud.”
“I never worked for Ed, but his legendary ‘Gotta Minute?’ was always a sign you were about to be taken to the woodshed. I feared crossing Ed with the knowledge that he knew more than I did. But yet, his vision and knowledge always led you in the smart direction. He knew what APSE needed more than APSE did.”
Cherwa’s right – Gotta Minute was invariably Eddie’s way of inviting a private conversation when he wasn’t happy. I heard Gotta Minute plenty of times.
But Eddie was often heartfelt in his praise. I carried in my wallet for years a note that Eddie sent to the Sports staff after we had to simultaneously cover the annual Orange Bowl – a pretty big deal in Miami – AND the University of Miami playing for the national championship in a different bowl game.
Eddie’s note, which he pinned to the office bulletin board, ended with words I still treasure:
“I have nothing but admiration for your efforts.”
Next question – what was Eddie’s greatest lasting impact on APSE?
Well … in APSE’s first 10-15 years, the finances were like a roulette ball bouncing from black, to red. Maybe you know some of the legendary stories …
In 1980, two officers had to personally lend APSE $5,500 to keep it solvent. In 1986, the Phoenix convention expenses spiraled and almost drained APSE again. The recession of 2008 was another hurdle to clear.
But we’re now on pretty solid footing, despite the pandemic and its challenges. A couple of the reasons for that:
First, budget limits were added to APSE bylaws under Henry Freeman in 1987. And second, financial vigilance was ratcheted up by Ed Storin when he was treasurer.
Quoting Bill Eichenberger again: “I wonder where we’d be today without his dogged attention.”
From Dave Smith: “Eddie was critical to keeping the organization intact.”
From Jack Berninger, who took the financial baton from Eddie: “As we know, Ed was a bit on the gruff side, but he was all-caring and wanted the best for APSE and people in general. In my many, many phone calls to him in that scary period when I took over, he always made time to patiently answer each and every one – and there were a lot of them.”
Eddie was not a casual spender at work OR play. Cherwa and former APSE President Van McKenzie would bet the horses with Eddie, and as Cherwa recalled:
“Ed was the most conservative bettor — and always the guy who could pay for a ride home if we needed it.”
Yet Eddie hated financial robots. Edwin Pope once recalled how Eddie stormed into Pope’s office one day and shouted, “I’ve HAD IT with the bean-counters. I’m leaving. No sense trying to talk me out of it.”
OK, Pope replied, I won’t waste my breath. Minutes later, Storin stormed in again. “Dammit,” he told Pope, “I don’t have the TIME to quit today!”
What set Eddie apart from the robots was that while he didn’t like fanciful spending, he always found money for a worthy project or to support a staff member in need.
Here’s a story that tells you something about Eddie’s heart as well as his head. When he was Herald associate managing editor, Eddie oversaw all newsroom finances. In the late ‘80s, The Herald had a bureau in Jerusalem, and there was intense pressure to stay within budget.
Reporter Marty Merzer had moved there with his family and quickly realized the Hebrew-language public school wasn’t going to work for his 9-year-old daughter. Merzer asked if the Herald could pay the tuition cost at the American International School.
Immediately, Storin answered: Go ahead and enroll your daughter. We’ll figure it out.
Upon learning of Eddie’s death, Merzer posted this: “Storin was a mensch.”
OK … last question – what enduring lessons can we learn from Eddie?
Actually, we’ve covered quite a few already – set a high bar, demand top performance and praise it, support your staffers, don’t obsess over the decline of print, push for diversity, be consistent as a manager.
But there’s one more lesson, maybe the most important: How Ed Storin balanced work and family.
At the Herald, Eddie’s nickname was The Hornet. He was always buzzing. On Eddie’s hilarious souvenir retirement page, humorist Dave Barry wrote that Eddie would have to relinquish not only his office but also his “collection of cattle prods.”
At home, Eddie was a different man. He and Ginny had four kids – Kathy, Michael, Robert and Edward – plus eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Kathy, the eldest, remembers him as, quote, “a big marshmallow. Loving and kind. He pushed us to be great to our ability, but the strongest language he used with us was, ‘Oh, you’re a dumb bunny.’”
Kathy joked that if he said that, “We’d run away crying. We always wanted to make him proud.”
Hornet, marshmallow? Ginny explained the contradiction:
“He always focused on the matter at hand,” she told me. “He’d come home from work and never discuss it. Home was where he’d relax and enjoy the children. He apologized many times for not spending more time with them – for missing games and recitals. But I don’t think they felt cheated because when he was with them, he was all theirs.”
Ginny did add, “Thank goodness this was in the days before cell phones and the internet!”
I don’t think I struck that balance when our kids were growing up. I’m sure many of you struggle with it, too. But if the Hornet could do it, there’s a lesson there.
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Last April, my wife Vickie and I drove from our home in New Orleans to visit kids and grandkids in Atlanta, and we met Eddie and Ginny for lunch. He was not well, but he still had that spark.
We traded stories. I told him how much he meant to me, how much I owed him. He recalled with enthusiasm some folks he had particularly admired. Dave Smith’s name came up. Edwin Pope. Al Tays, one of the best content editors we’d ever worked with. Christine Brennan.
As we finished lunch, Eddie said, “We have so many more people to talk about!” We agreed to meet again, but Eddie died less than three weeks later.
And the tributes poured in. Former APSE President Bill Dwyre posted, “If there was ever somebody who deserved to live forever, it was Ed … what a huge influence he had.”
Hopefully, that influence will live forever in APSE.
Thanks Eddie, and thank YOU all — please join me in a round of applause for ED STORIN.
(Photo of Paul Anger by Kelly Zehnder.)