The Man Who Pioneered Roll Call’s Sports Coverage
If Roll Call founder Sid Yudain was the Abner Doubleday of congressional baseball, Skip Maraney was his Shirley Povich.
Maraney spent most of the 1960s writing about congressional sports — baseball, obviously, but also basketball, softball, bowling and bridge — for Roll Call. In fact, he was Roll Call’s first, and seemingly only, sports columnist. For his dedication to the paper, the community and game, Marney is the 2015 inductee into the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame. Maraney was working for the Clerk of the House in 1963 when he suggested to Yudain that someone should be writing about all the sports teams featuring congressional staff (baseball was just getting going then). “He said, ‘OK, write it,’” Maraney recalls about the birth of Skip-a-long, which eventually expanded into an“Around the Hill” beat and laid the groundwork for Roll Call’s current coverage of life in and around the Capitol.
From his perch, Maraney watched the game rise from the ashes after Speaker Sam Rayburn, D-Texas, shut it down in 1958. In 1961, members of Congress took part in a home-run contest and the next year the event became an actual game, played prior to a Washington Senators home contest.
“Sid had the idea of turning it into a party. The game had hot dogs, cheerleaders,” Maraney says. “Buses took everyone to the stadium.”
Not only was Maraney providing pre- and post-game coverage, he was also calling the game. During those years, he got to see some of the greats of congressional baseball history: Indiana Democratic Sen. Birch Bayh (“He was sensational!”), former major league pitcher Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell, R-N.C., Massachusetts GOP Rep. Silvio Conte (“He batted with a cigar and came out on crutches one year. And hit a double.”)
As the 1970s began, Maraney left the Clerk’s office and gave up the sports beat for a job with the National Star Route Mail Contractors Association, where he remains as executive director. While he obviously enjoys his job, there are some things he had to leave behind. As Roll Call’s sports and community columnist, “I got invited to everything.”
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