Fix­ture in Philadel­phia sports me­dia for nearly 50 years

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Weekend Perspectiv­es -

PHILADEL­PHIA — Jack Scheuer, the go- to guy at court­side, on the field and in the press box, who cov­ered Philadel­phia sports from the days of Wilt Cham­ber­lain to Bryce Harper for The As­so­ci­ated Press and other out­lets, died Fri­day. He was 88.

Son Bob said his fa­ther died in hospice care from kid­ney and cancer com­pli­ca­tions.

“A Philly leg­end,” twotime cham­pion Vil­lanova bas­ket­ball coach Jay Wright tweeted this week.

“Philly’s finest! A true gen­tle­man,” for­mer Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli posted.

Mr. Scheuer worked as a free­lance sports stringer for the AP for 46 years af­ter start­ing out with the Philadel­phia Bulletin news­pa­per. Dur­ing a re­tire­ment trib­ute at Ci­ti­zens Bank Park on the fi­nal day of the 2019 sea­son, it was es­ti­mated he had cov­ered 3,500 Phillies games and 3,600 bas­ket­ball games.

While Mr. Scheuer worked at Con­nie Mack Sta­dium, the Spec­trum, Vet­er­ans Sta­dium and more — greet­ing ev­ery­one with a smile, a tip and a trivia ques­tion — his sec­ond home for decades seemed to be the Palestra.

The jewel of a bas­ket­ball arena opened in 1927 on Penn’s cam­pus, and he played for his high school team in a city cham­pi­onship game on that court in 1949. Mr. Scheuer was later elected to the Big 5 Hall of Fame, fol­low­ing Penn, Tem­ple, Vil­lanova, La Salle and Saint Joseph’s while al­ways in search of “good hoops,” as he liked to say.

“Jack Scheuer — Palestra — Satur­day — soft pret­zel — an­other game tonight — The per­fect day,” Mr. Martelli tweeted in Jan­uary.

But Mr. Scheuer did more than record the bas­kets. He shot them, too.

For nearly 40 years, Mr. Scheuer ran a weekly me­dia game on the Palestra court, with the likes of NBA star and coach Doug Collins, then- Phillies man­ager Terry Fran­cona and for­mer Six­ers gen­eral man­ager John Nash some­times tak­ing part.

Known for a spot- on, twohanded set shot, Mr. Scheuer more than held his own play­ing pickup ball un­til he was 85. Af­ter all those years of four- on- four, half­court games up to seven or nine, he jok­ingly re­ferred to him­self as “the all- time lead­ing scorer in Palestra his­tory.”

“He was just age­less,” dec­o­rated Philadel­phia sports writer and broad­caster Ray

Didinger said Fri­day. “Look­ing at him, it was hard to place how old he was. He was eter­nal.”

The 5- foot- 8 Mr. Scheuer, a for­mer Drexel as­sis­tant and high school coach, had his own key to the Palestra and com­manded the court on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noons from Oc­to­ber to April. While coach­ing at Penn, Fran Dun­phy gladly de­layed Quak­ers prac­tices there un­til his pal’s games were fin­ished.

Mr. Scheuer of­ten said his fa­vorite col­lege hoops player was 1950s Tem­ple guard Guy Rodgers, a four- time NBA All- Star. Mr. Scheuer once started in the back­court with Rodgers in a sum­mer league game and liked to tell how they com­bined for 54 points.

“I got four,” Mr. Scheuer would say, a fa­mil­iar twin­kle in his eye, “he got the rest.”

In the mid- 1970s, Mr. Scheuer was the mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor for the Philadel­phia Bell of the World Foot­ball League. It was a fam­ily af­fair of sorts — sons Bob and Ken tended the hot dogs in the press box and daugh­ter Gail was a cheer­leader.

As a teen, Mr. Scheuer got a walk- on try­out with the Phillies as an in­fielder. He re­called stand­ing at short­stop as Philadel­phia reg­u­lars socked line drives all around him.

“One of the pitch­ers, Ken Heintzel­man, kind of took me to the out­field, said it was too dan­ger­ous stand­ing in there,” Mr. Scheuer re­mem­bered.

Mr. Scheuer played short­stop for years — with Mr. Didinger at third base — for the Bulletin soft­ball team.

“He was a re­ally, re­ally good player, and re­ally smart,” Mr. Didinger said. “It showed when he would do postgame in­ter­views on the job. Man­agers and coaches could tell he knew what he was talk­ing about. He had their ut­most re­spect.

“Peo­ple would go to him,” he said. “He al­ways came across as some­one who had no agenda.”

Mr. Scheuer served in the U. S. Army dur­ing the Korean War. He re­turned to Philadel­phia and was a sales­man and a com­pany rep for sev­eral firms be­fore pick­ing up more and more jobs in sports, be­com­ing one of the most beloved me­dia mem­bers in town.

For years, his phone’s an­swer­ing ma­chine fea­tured the voice of cel­e­brated Phillies an­nouncer Harry Kalas do­ing his home run call, say­ing Jack Scheuer “is outta here!”

“In my 21 years as a sports writer for the AP, I’ve never met any­one else who no one had a bad thing to say about. It’s tough in this in­dus­try, in this city. And he was uni­ver­sally loved,” said AP sports writer Rob Maaddi, who cov­ered nearly 1,000 games with Mr. Scheuer.

Mr. Scheuer is sur­vived by his wife of 64 years, Jean; sons Bob and Ken; daugh­ters Gail and Nancy; and eight grand­chil­dren.

A fu­neral is sched­uled for Nov. 5.

Jack Scheuer

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