Kokomo native Mark Morrow was recently inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame.
BY DEAN HOCKNEY
GREENWOOD, Ind. - The Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association inducted its 20th Hall of Fame class on April 12 at Valle Vista Golf Club in Greenwood – a class that included Kokomo native Mark Morrow. Five journalists who have made their mark in Indiana and nationally were inducted into the ISSA Hall of Fame – Bill Beck of the Elkhart Truth, Bob Jenkins of ESPN and the IMS Radio Network, Morrow of the Indianapolis Star/News and now the Noblesville Times, Blake Sebring of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel and Jason Whitlock of ESPN.
In addition, three more were recognized as annual award winners. Bob “Slick” Leonard was awarded the Distinguished Service Award in honor of his 30 years broadcasting the Indiana Pacers. Former Sports Journal of Central Indiana columnist Greg Rakestraw of WFNI-Indianapolis was honored as the Marv Bates Indiana Sportscaster of the Year. Bob Kravitz of WTHR-Indianapolis was honored as the Corky Lamm Indiana Sportswriter of the Year.
Morrow, a 1965 graduate of Kokomo High School, has spent 52 years in Indiana media, currently working as executive sports editor and columnist for the Noblesville Times. Twenty-five of those years were spent with The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Star, where he coordinated high school coverage and, from 1984-1986, served as the Pacers’ beat writer. Early in his career, the former Wildkat was the assistant sports editor at the Kokomo Tribune from 1972-1975 and from 1975-1982 the sports editor at the Michigan City News-Dispatch.
“According to my classmates, I was remembered as funny, clever and ambitious – they got the ambitious part right,” said Morrow. “I started my career by keeping stats for sportswriters at the Kokomo Tribune in 1963 while I was a sophomore in high school after a severe knee injury ended what I am sure would have never have been a star athletic career. But I wanted to stay in sports, and my mentor, Bob Ford, gave me the opportunity. But never did I image I would cover a path that included 52 years of covering sports.”
He published a book – Have Laptop, Did Travel – in 2008 and earned the IHSAA Distinguished Media Service Award for District 2 in 2014. In 2012, he earned the Outstanding Baseball Media Award from the Indiana Baseball Coaches Association. Morrow talked about his career, and the opportunities that were presented after choosing a career as a journalist.
“Thanks to being the beat writer for the Indiana Pacers for four years I got to travel to places I never could have on my own dime,” said the new hall of famer. “I covered games in 184 high school gymnasiums. I covered seven young men selected as Indiana Mr. Basketball – including Hamilton Southeastern’s Gary Harris and Zac Irwin who were the only ones selected back-to-back from the same high school.”
The Kokomo native said writing about young athletes is what he enjoys the most of his profession.
“Fortunately, I have touched many young lives,” he said. “My sister Kathy said my biggest accomplishment was coaching future Major League Baseball players Tom and Pat Underwood. But I think my greatest accomplishment, and the one I am most proud of, was raising my sons Mike and Matt.”
Morrow is the father of two sons, Matt Morrow and Mike McCormick. He and his late wife Carol were married for 36 years. He is now married to Becky.
About the ISSA HOF inductees
Bill Beck is in his 26th year with the Elkhart Truth, having served as the newspaper’s sports editor since 1999. He joined the staff at his hometown paper as a correspondent in 1980 and has been a fixture in Michiana sporting events since.
Bob Jenkins of Liberty, Indiana, was one of the first broadcasters hired at ESPN, and spent 27 years broadcasting all forms of auto racing for the network. He also has been the Voice of the Indianapolis 500, and is the only announcer to anchor the Indy 500, Brickyard 400 and United States Grand Prix on television.
Blake Sebring joined the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel staff as a 15-year-old clerk in 1980, and has been full-time with the News-Sentinel since 1988. He is currently the newspaper’s assistant sports editor, and covers the Fort Wayne Komets. Sebring has also written seven books.
Jason Whitlock is one of the nation’s premier sports columnists, currently writing for ESPN. His work with the Kansas City Star, ESPN and other outlets has boldly addressed sensitive subjects in sports. He is a native of Indianapolis and a graduate of Ball State University.
Distinguished Service Award – Bob Leonard: Leonard was an All-American and NCAA champion as a player and a three-time ABA champion as a coach. He is a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. For the last 30 years, his enthusiastic color commentary, punctuated by a “Boom Baby!” for each 3-pointer, has been a fixture on Indiana Pacers’ broadcasts.
Sportscaster of the Year – Greg Rakestraw: One of the most well-known broadcast voices in central Indiana, Rakestraw runs the day-to-day operations of WFNI, the largest all-sports radio station in Indianapolis. He also is the television voice of the Indy Eleven and IUPUI basketball. Rakestraw was also influential in providing advice and a column to the Sports Journal staff when the publication was launched in 2011.
Sportswriter of the Year – Bob Kravitz: One of the first reads for any central Indiana sports fan is Kravitz, whose regular columns now are published by WTHR.com. The IU graduate’s thought-provoking and insightful commentary on a wide range of Indy-area and national sports topics have made him a go-to source.
ISSA contributed to this story