I attended the memorial service for Maury Allen on a brilliant Sunday afternoon at Yogi Berra Stadium in Little Falls, NJ.
Hundreds of Maury’s friends, family, and colleagues came to pay their respects. Among those from the sporting world were Marty Appel (who served as MC), Ira Berkow, Tony Guida, Harvey Araton, Phil Kaplan, Dave Kaplan, Phil Pepe, Art Shamsky, Don Gould, and George Vecsey.
Following the main program, there was a reception for invited guests. I paid my respects to Maury’s wife, Janet, who seemed surprised I had not been on of the speakers, saying she thought she had seen my name on the program. News to me, since I had not known Maury as long or as well as the others (which was probably why no one approached me about it).
Had I the opportunity to speak, this is what I would have said:
I met Maury about five years ago when I was covering a program at the Yogi Berra Museum for my newspaper. I hadn’t been on the job that long, having spent my whole working life in public relations. So I was still a bit intimidated with talking to celebrities. I had been a fan of Maury’s for many years, with most of his books in my library, and having a had a few painful learning experiences, was a bit trepedatious about approaching him. I figured I’d get a nice couple of quotes and a polite but firm, “Thanks, well, gotta go.”
But Maury could not have been nicer, as you’ve heard many anecdotes already about his warmth, his generosity, his availability. He spent a good chunk of time with me, which made my job a lot easier.
After that initial meeting, I called upon him from time to time as a source for a story or suggestions for who else to talk to. I never found him less than immediately receptive.
When Janet told me how ill Maury was over the last few months, I felt I wanted to do something. I let people know, via my blog on Jews and sports, that he could use some cheering up, a small payback for all the pleasure he had given his readers over half a century. Janet told me a few had responded, sending him some items they hoped would indicate their admiration, respect, and affection for all he had done for them via his words.
If I learned nothing else from Maury, it’s that you’re never too old to make new friends.