Hey, Tom: Congratulations

Saying Tom McEwen was a sports writer is like saying Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer. It doesn’t tell you nearly enough.

Tom McEwen, the former Tampa Tribune sports editor, was a force. A valued resource. An old-school, home-town community asset. More on that later.

Fact is, the 81-year-old McEwen still has a lot of shelf life – not just legacy stock. He still writes – and has his own web site.

Sure, he can reflect on Pete Rose and the early signs of talent, tenacity and trouble. He can tell you what Bear Bryant was like as a coach — or a golfing partner. Why George Steinbrenner never got over not buying the Buccaneers. What Al Lopez remembers most about Minnie Minoso. And he can give you the inside, dog-and-pony skinny on how the Buc franchise came to Tampa.

Unlike anyone else around here, McEwen can put current sports events into historic perspective. He knows the minutes from previous meetings. He probably kept them.

But he’s also where contemporary media go, for example, when they want to know what Steve Spurrier is really thinking. Some reporters would kill to have his Rolodex.

McEwen has long mattered to this town: For his scoops, his insights, his civic loyalty, his institutional memory and his myriad stints as a master of ceremonies for all manner of black-tie occasions and charity events. The city’s current “I am Tampa” slogan was embodied by McEwen an era ago.

So, it was most appropriate when an endowed scholarship for USF mass communications students was named in his honor. It will be funded fittingly by Media General and the Tampa Tribune .

McEwen was no Red Smith or Jim Murray or even Martin Fennelly. You won’t find “McEwen” and “wordsmith” in the same sentence – except for ones such as this. Too many sentences beginning with “Thought here is

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