The late Tom McEwen, sports editor of The Tampa Times from 1958-62 before being named sports editor of The Tampa Tribune in 1962, graced the Tribune sports section with his award-winning column, The Morning After, and his Breakfast Bonus notes columns were a signature offering from the 19-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year. McEwen died in June, 2011 at the age of 88. His wife, Linda, occasionally contributes past columns and exerpts to this blog.
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Posted Feb 19, 2012 by Tom McEwen
Updated Feb 19, 2012 at 01:19 AM
I come from the Piedmont area as they say in South Carolina and so growing up in this state like I did, I met Freddie right out of high school introduced to Tom and I by Coach Bill Fulcher, who himself grew up down the road from Freddie in Augusta, Georgia. Bill, gone now, would have heard of the football feats of this spectacular athlete in high school, half quarterback, half running back who once he got the football in his hand, was gone and Fulcher was eager to sign him up on his Spartan team. With his fine speed and record running ability, he was seen offensively dodging and darting his way to a win always for the University of Tampa team he grew to love.
Coming out of the rural back country from Sumter, South Carolina, Freddie grew up with the pride in community and family values he carried with him throughout his football life in college and in the pros, 49’ers and the Miami Dolphins, and then in retirement to the youth of his adopted hometown, Tampa, Florida.
Freddie visited Tom often, when he was not well, those last years, and always proclaimed each time he came how important he thought Tom’s life and dedication to the sport’s world with his special writings in the Tampa Tribune.
Freddie, coming from South Carolina, would be described as a “good man”, which would be the highest compliment one could pay to him. The last time we had him with us for a few hours, teammate Vin Hoover had set up a reunion for his fellow Spartan football playing members in our home. Everyone came, Freddie walked in with a lot of food and drink.
Almost every living Spartan was there and Tom enjoyed it the most I think, although they all loved it. The stories they told on each other and the affection they felt for their times on the field as a University of Tampa Spartan was apparent. The old coach, Fran Curci, was there, and Vin Hoover was the best organizer ever.
To have the cancer discovered and to die nine months later with much suffering is heartbreaking for us all.
Eddie Debartolo, owner of the San Francisco 49ers and his special friend who loved him, organized in November of 2011, a tribute to Freddie & Friends for his very wonderful football career at the University of Tampa and in the pros. Eddie showed films of his spectacular star’s feats on the gridiron, and many of his football buddies from all over came to speak of the wonderful memories of playing football with Freddie. He loved the tribute, he felt like maybe he didn’t deserve the attention like he would, but he loved it all.
In the end, Freddie just did what he was supposed to do with his vast talents and gave and gave and gave to everyone.
Goodby Freddie, now you can join Tom upstairs without the suffering, he is waiting for you.