Frank Deford

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Frank Deford
Frank Deford.jpg
Frank Deford speaking at the Bridgeport Public Library in Bridgeport, Connecticut, September 21, 2007
Born Benjamin Franklin Deford III
(1938-12-16) December 16, 1938 (age 80)
Baltimore, Maryland
Education Princeton University
Occupation Journalist, Novelist
Spouse(s) Carol Penner Deford
Children 3

Frank Deford (born Benjamin Franklin Deford III[1] on December 16, 1938 in Baltimore, Maryland) is an American sportswriter and novelist.

In addition to his 50-year tenure at Sports Illustrated, where he now holds the title of Senior Contributing Writer, Deford appears monthly on National Public Radio and as Senior Correspondent for Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO. He has written 18 books, nine of them novels. A member of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, Deford was six times voted Sportswriter of the Year by the members of that organization, and was twice voted Magazine Writer of the Year by the Washington Journalism Review.

In 2012 he became the first magazine recipient of the Red Smith Award. In 2013 he was presented with the William Allen White Citation for "excellence in journalism" by the University of Kansas and became the first sports journalist ever to receive the National Press Foundation's highest honor, the W.M. Kiplinger Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism. Deford's archives are held by the University of Texas, where an annual lecture is presented in his name. He is a long-time advocate for research and treatment of cystic fibrosis.

Life and Career

Early Life

Deford grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, the oldest of three sons, and attended the Calvert School and Gilman School in Baltimore. He is a graduate of Princeton University and now resides in Westport, Connecticut, with his wife, the former Carol Penner, who had been a fashion model. They have two surviving children: Christian (b. 1969) and Scarlet (b. 1980). Scarlet was adopted as an infant from the Philippines a few months after Alex's death. Deford has two grandchildren; Annabel (b. 2010) and Hunter (b. 2012). Deford met his wife in Delaware and they were married in Newport, Rhode Island in 1965.[2][3]


After graduation from Princeton in 1962, Deford began his career as a researcher at Sports Illustrated. In addition to his writing at Sports Illustrated, he was a commentator on CNN and has been a correspondent for HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel since 1995; and was a regular Wednesday commentator for NPR from 1980 to 2016, when his essays became monthly.[4] His 1981 novel Everybody's All-American was named one of Sports Illustrated's Top 25 Sports Books of All Time and was later made into a film of the same title. However, much of his fiction is set outside of the sports realm. His most recent novel is the acclaimed Bliss, Remembered, a 1930s romance between a pretty young American and the son of a German diplomat; the story is written from the point of view of the woman. He was also the screenwriter on the films Trading Hearts (1987) and Four Minutes (2005).[5]

In 1989 Deford became editor-in-chief of The National, the first daily U.S. sports newspaper that ceased publication after only 18 months. After writing for Newsweek and Vanity Fair, Deford continues as Senior Contributing Writer at Sports Illustrated.[6]


Deford served as chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation from 1982 until 1999 and remains chairman emeritus. He became a cystic-fibrosis advocate after his daughter Alexandra was diagnosed with the illness in 1972. After she died at 8 on January 19, 1980, he chronicled her life in the memoir Alex: The Life of a Child. The book was made into a movie starring Craig T. Nelson as Deford, Bonnie Bedelia as his wife Carol, and Gennie James as Alex.

Awards and accomplishments

Published books

  • Five Strides on the Banked Track: The Life and Times of the Roller Derby, Publisher: Little Brown & Company (1971), ISBN 978-0-316-17920-1
  • Cut 'n' Run, Publisher Viking (1973)
  • There She Is: The Life and Times of Miss America, Publisher: Viking Press (1975) ISBN 0-670-69858-X
  • Big Bill Tilden: The Triumphs and The Tragedy, Simon & Schuster (1976)
  • The Owner, Publisher: Viking Press (1978)
  • Everybody's All-American, Publisher: Viking (1981)
  • Alex: The Life of a Child, Publisher: Viking (1983) ISBN 0-670-11195-3
  • The Spy in the Deuce Court, Publisher: Putnam (1986) ISBN 0-399-13134-5
  • The World's Tallest Midget: The Best of Frank Deford, Publisher, Little Brown(1987) ISBN 0-316-17946-9
  • Casey On The Loose, Publisher: Viking Press (1988)
  • Love and Infamy, Publisher: Viking Press (1993)
  • The Best Of Frank Deford, Publisher, Triumph Books (2000) ISBN 1-57243-360-4
  • The Other Adonis: A Novel (2001) Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN 1-4022-0011-0
  • An American Summer: A Novel (2002) Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN 1-4022-0059-5
  • The Old Ball Game Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (2005) ISBN 0-87113-885-9
  • The Entitled, Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (2007) ISBN 1-4022-0896-0
  • Bliss, Remembered Publisher: The Overlook Press (2010)
  • Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (2012) ISBN 0802120156

See also

External links


  1. Bunting, Glenn F. (January 11, 2004). "Picking Nits with Frank Deford". Los Angeles Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Gambling in Delaware is a sure bet". CNN. May 27, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Deford Speech at CCC
  4. "Sometimes, You Have To Pass The Ball". NPR. January 20, 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "About Frank Deford". Frank Deford Sports Writer / Novelist. Retrieved 20 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "About Frank Deford". Frank Deford Sports Writer / Novelist. Retrieved 20 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Carolyn Kellogg (August 14, 2013). "Jacket Copy: PEN announces winners of its 2013 awards". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 14, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>