Thomas Massey "Tom" McEwen (March 16, 1923 – June 5, 2011) was an American sportswriter and sports editor for The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida from 1962 until 1991, although he continued writing his column until 2001. From 2001 to shortly before his death in 2011 McEwen continued to write for the Tampa Bay Online. He was the Sports Editor during an era of growth for The Tampa Tribune and the Tampa bay area, and also during a period of great expansion of sports there. Some credit McEwen with being among the most influential newspaper sports journalists of his day, affecting major development for sports in the Tampa Bay Area and facilitating the establishment of professional sports there, notably the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Early life and the University of Florida
McEwen was born in 1923 in rural Wauchula, Florida, where the cattle and citrus industries were most prominent. He followed his older brother, who later became a distinguished lawyer and state attorney in Tampa, James M. "Red" McEwen to the University of Florida in Gainesville for a degree in journalism. He served as editor of the University of Florida college newspaper The Alligator.
It was from the University of Florida in 1944 that he was called to military service in the Pacific. He was trained at Fort Hood and arrived in the Philippines at the end of the occupation by the Japanese... "he entered as a private and exited as a captain while serving in the Pacific Theatre as a platoon leader with the U.S. Army's 785th Tank Battalion. Later, he served as a prison officer of Prisoner of War Camp No. 1 in the Philippines, running a camp that included 2,000 prisoners. He retained a military tie in the Army reserves and then the U.S. National Guard until his retirement from the Florida Guard in 1976, as lieutenant colonel. He received the Florida Order of Merit for his service in the guard." Coming home from the Philippines, McEwen wrote sports for the Fort Myers News Press in the 1950s, then was hired by the St. Petersburg Times in 1958 and then by the The Tampa Tribune in 1962.
The Tampa Tribune
McEwen became sports editor for the Tribune in 1962, "when he took over a department with a staff of seven". McEwen wrote The Morning After column six days a week, and a weekly question and answer column, Hey Tom!. McEwen often made appearances as a speaker as well. He had a large network of civic minded local community leaders, nationally recognized athletes and team owners, and many people that he knew in the Tampa Bay area and in the United States. "He stepped down in 1992 as overseer of 57 staffers."
It is estimated that he wrote over 10,000 columns, and he traveled to many of the major sporting events of his day, both domestically and internationally. His column sometimes covered subjects other than sports, such as eulogies of someone of note or a loved one. Throughout his writing career he wrote many columns about the University of Florida's football programs, coaches, and players. His first book The Gators: A Story of Florida Football, published in 1974, traces the history of Florida's football program from its beginnings in 1901 until 1974. After his official retirement, he continued to write and produced a collection of his works. In 2012, the Tom McEwen Family Foundation was established to raise monies for scholarships for aspiring sports journalists.
McEwen has been recognized for his sportswriting as well as being recipient of multiple awards. He won the Florida Sportswriter of the Year award nineteen times, between the years 1962 and 1993 and in 2000, was the recipient of the Dick McCann Memorial Award for long and distinguished reporting in the field of pro football in the Canton NFL Hall of Fame ceremonies, presented by Pro Football Writers of America. He served as president of the Football Writers Association of America from 1973-74. And in 1993, the Associated Press Sports Editors presented McEwen with the Red Smith Award. Press boxes were named for him at the original Tampa Stadium and at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football games and the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey games are held. The street in front of Raymond James Stadium, today's home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bears his name. McEwen was honored as a distinguished graduate by the University of Florida and an athletic scholarship was endowed in his name. He conducted seminars in sportswriting at the American Press Institute at Columbia University. His final tribute was for a Doctor of Letters given in 2011 by Saint Leo University, a Catholic university 35 miles north of Tampa.
- Christopher Goffard (2001-01-23). "Tom McEwen, who helped put Tampa on the sports map, is retiring - grudgingly". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- "Hey Tom: You will be missed". CBS Broadcasting Inc. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- "Glazer Family Reacts to Passing of Tom McEwen". Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- "Tom McEwen Obituary". Legacy.com. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- Andrew Meacham (2011-06-06). "Former Tampa Tribune sports editor Tom McEwen shaped bay area landscape". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- Joey Johnston. "Tom McEwen, former Tribune sports editor and columnist, dies at 88". Tampa Bay Online. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- Joey Johnston (2011-06-05). "Tom McEwen, Tampa Tribune sports editor and columnist has died". The Tampa Tribune. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- Tom Mcewen (2011-06-05). "Work hard, be forgiving and find a laugh". Tampa Bay Online. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- Tom McEwen (1 September 1974). The Gators: A Story of Florida Football. Strode Publishers.
- "Press Pass by Tom McEwen". Barnes and Noble. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- Joey Johnston (2012-05-11). "Passion earns UF writer McEwen scholarship". Tampa Bay Online. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- "In Memoriam - Tom McEwen". University of Florida. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- Indiana University School of Journalism. "Red Smith Award Winners". Associated Press Sports Editors. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- "Saint Leo honors McEwen". Tampa Bay Online. 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2012-06-06.