I was flipping back and forth between the Mets and Jets yesterday and upon my return to the baseball broadcast I caught the name “Maury Allen.” Knowing that the veteran sportswriter/author had been in bad health for the past several months, I feared the worst, but nothing turned up in an immediate Internet search.
I haven’t been in journalism all that long, having spent much of my career in non-profit PR, but this “new” position gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of sports figures. I frequently got the bum’s rush from many because I wasn’t a member of the Times’ or ESPN, but rather a small community outlet and therefore couldn’t do much to further their image or product. But Maury was easily the most approachable, accommodating, and welcoming among them. We developed a friendly relationship where I wouldn’t have to stand on ceremony to give him a call to shoot the breeze, whether talking about sports or a movie. He was a great fan of the flicks and even appeared in the 1968 movie version of The Odd Couple as — surprise — a sportswriter.
He and his wife Janet met when they were both working for Sports Illustrated in the 1960s. They moved to Cedar Grove, NJ, about ten minutes from my house, to be closer to their children and grandkids. I was glad I had to opportunity to visit with them right before the High Holidays.
The funeral will be private, but there are tentative plans for a memorial service this Sunday (Oct. 10) at the Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls. I’ll post details when available.