For love of the game

 Uncategorized
Oct 262004
 
Authors: Sara Crocker

Few people can claim they’ve risked their lives for the love of

baseball.

Former Denver Post sports writer Frank Haraway, however, is one

of them.

About 15 years ago, Haraway was told by his doctor that he

needed a quadruple coronary bypass. His response was merely that he

would have to consult the Denver Bears’ baseball schedule before he

made an operation appointment.

“I look back and think I was dumb enough to tell him I wanted to

check the baseball schedule before a life-saving operation,”

Haraway said.

Haraway, 87, has seen baseball in Colorado evolve and finally

branch into a major league franchise, not only as a veteran

reporter, but also as a fan.

Haraway gained affection for the sport when he became bed-ridden

shortly after starting the first grade because of tuberculosis of

the hips. While tinkering one night with his crystal set – a

precursor to the radio – he found the 1925 World Series broadcast

between the Washington Senators and the Pittsburg Pirates.

Automatically he was smitten. Although he couldn’t show his love

for the game with the swing of a bat, he could with the stroke of a

pencil. Soon Haraway began keeping statistics and scoring

games.

“When I was a growing boy, there wasn’t any question that

baseball was the number one pastime,” Haraway said. “I can’t

remember how I learned (to score). I just did it when I was in bed

listening to the radio.”

Shortly thereafter, Haraway began regularly attending Denver

baseball games at Merchants Park, in his wheelchair. He has been

scoring and attending games ever since. While Merchants Park and

Bears Stadium have long been torn down and replaced by Coors Field,

Haraway’s personal records have remained intact. He has scoring

records dating back to 1932.

His father, an owner of Piggly Wiggly grocery stores in the

Midwest, even bought him season tickets and hired a driver to take

him around town.

“I had four wheelchairs and a personal chauffeur. Well, there

are not many kids in the world probably that had all of that,”

Haraway said. “My parents were so good to me, it was just

embarrassing.”

After being bed-ridden for about three years, and then spending

five years in a wheelchair, Haraway received crutches and has used

them for the past 73 years.

But using these two “street negotiators,” as he referred to

them, never deterred Haraway.

“The fact that I had these crutches didn’t really bother me

because I became very adept on them,” Haraway said. “I used to go

so fast on those things you couldn’t keep up with me walking down

the sidewalk.”

This theory was actually tested while Haraway attended the

University of Denver. When an injured football player at a rival

fraternity challenged Haraway to a crutch race, he accepted. The

bet: First to win the 100-yard dash won a keg of beer, which was to

be supplied by the losing fraternity.

Haraway was victorious, but the athlete tripped and re-fractured

his healing leg. Afterward, the university’s football coach warned

Haraway to stay away from his other ailing players.

“So, I retired from crutch racing at the age of 18,” Haraway

said.

As Haraway’s graduation date neared, he knew he wanted to spend

his life writing about baseball; the question was, where? Luckily,

he took the place of a retiring reporter at the Denver Post.

“It was the only full time job I ever had in my life,” Haraway

said.

During his 44-year stint as a writer for the Post, Haraway

coveted the position of covering the Bears. He even went 12 years

without missing a single game.

Haraway took this time to use his love of scoring in his daily

job.

“I had to keep my own (statistics), and I kept a day-by-day on

every player, from the time he parted his hair in the morning until

he played ball,” Haraway said.

In 1981, Haraway left the Post, but his love of the game was

still evidently strong. So strong, that once Colorado welcomed the

Rockies in 1993, he was the automatic choice to be their first

official scorer. The press box at Coors Field bears his name as a

reminder of his contributions to Denver baseball.

“I was pretty much considered an institution in the realm of

scoring,” Haraway said. “Now, it’s been 23 years since I retired

and I’m still scoring every game, even though I’m not writing any

stories.”

Haraway officially scored games for the next five years until

1998. He still continues to score, but it is now, once again, for

his own enjoyment.

“They named the press box after me,” Haraway said. “I said, It’s

my press box; if I want to score, then I’m going to score.”

Haraway is also on the stats crew for the Denver Nuggets and the

Broncos, but baseball will always have a special place in his

heart.

“Here’s what I live by,” Haraway said, holding up a Rockies

schedule clipped out of a newspaper. “I’ll either be present or

listening on TV or radio on all those dates.”

As a regular fixture at Rockies games, Haraway has brought

smiles to those who have worked with him.

Rocky Mountain News sports writer Jack Etkin met Haraway when he

began covering the Rockies for the News in 1993.

“He’s really a fan,” Etkin said. “There’s no cynicism at all.

He’s just a kind, sweet, wonderful man who happens to love

baseball.”

Despite the ups and downs in his life, Haraway has always

remained positive.

“He is the most cheerful man I know,” said longtime friend and

former Denver Bears general manager, Jim Burris.

Each photo, cartoon, press pass that covers his wall or fills

his bookshelf tells a story of a specific time in his life. As

Haraway strides into the home stretch of his life, he has no

regrets.

“I didn’t make any money as a sports writer, but I had really,

an interesting life and I have seen more than 7,000 games and God

knows how many thousands more on television and radio,” Haraway

said. “It’s been my life and I feel that I made the right

choice.”

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