Working media: A story of dads and sons and pins

ATLANTA — Game 3 of the 2021 World Series featured a two-hit shutout and a victory by the Atlanta Braves in front of an emotional home crowd.

Hours before the first pitch, I sat in a bathroom stall in the Hank Aaron Terrace Club, crying … because someone gave me this pin.

I should probably give a little background.

When sports journalists cover an event, we’re given a credential, usually made of plastic or cardboard, that we wear on a lanyard around our necks. Security at the press box can tell at a glance whether or not we belong.

In the old days — like the 1920s and ’30s — things didn’t work that way. Reporters wore suits and ties to games. They also wore hats — fedoras or derbies. You’ve probably seen reporters in old movies with the little card tucked into their hat band that said “press”. That was their credential.

For big events, instead of getting a little “press” card, they were given pins to attach to the hat band. Just like with a lanyard, security guards at press boxes could tell at a glance if someone was a legitimate member of the media.

For the World Series, the press pin was fancy and decorative, usually featuring the logos of the teams involved. Remember, the World Series was the only round of the postseason back then, so often, teams knew in late August or early September that they were going to be playing in the Series, giving them plenty of time to design and produce the pin.

Since the pins were limited to media members, not many were produced, and they are highly sought after, and expensive, on the collectables market. It’s not unusual to see older ones, particularly ones from famous or memorable World Series, sell at auction for thousands of dollars.

At the entrance of the Washington Nationals’ press box, named after legendary Washington Post reporter Shirley Povich, is a display featuring his collection of World Series press pins from his long, illustrious career.




Shirley was sports editor of the Post for 41 years, and he’s in the writers’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. But if his name sounds familiar (or if you thought you were clever by saying the line), he’s probably best known now because Shirley … IS the father of tabloid TV host Maury Povich.

I covered my first World Series in 2006, in Detroit, when the Tigers played the Cardinals. I knew several weeks in advance that, if the Tigers advanced, I was approved for their home games. (I lived in Western New York at the time, and it was a relatively easy several-hour drive across Canada to reach MoTown).

Throughout late September, my father was busy on a project, finally presenting it to me at the end of the month — he’d built me a small, dinner-plate sized display case with multiple compartments, kind of like a jewelry box tipped on its side.

“I thought you might want to display things in there as you pick them up,” he explained.

I didn’t get it until the second inning of Game 1, when the MLB employee made her way through the press area, handing each member of the media their press pin for the 2006 games in Detroit.

Even though we had credentials on lanyards, printed on site and including our photos, MLB continues the tradition of World Series press pins. It’s a relatively well-kept secret, and they’re still just as rare as they were in the Great Depression.

In all my excitement over getting to cover my first World Series, I’d forgotten all about the press pin tradition, but my father hadn’t. And he built me a case so I could display my first of perhaps many.

I now have pins from All Star Games, ACC Tournaments, the Final Four, Super Bowls and the Little League World Series. They’re all in my case, lined up next to the pin in the first slot — the 2006 Detroit Tigers World Series Press Pin.

In 2019, I covered my second World Series, in Washington. Despite the fact the team’s press box had a display case filled with decades worth of them, we weren’t given one.

After the second inning, I approached one of the attendants in charge of the auxiliary press box, where I was seated. But someone beat me to it.

“Aren’t we getting our pins,” asked another reporter.

I chimed in with, “Yeah … the pins.”

He claimed that he knew nothing about them, and there were no pins coming

As soon as I got home from the game, my father asked why I hadn’t sent him a photo of the pin.

“We didn’t get one,” I said.

“Did you ask?” was his immediate response.

I assured him that I did, and that I wasn’t the only one upset over the press pin snub.

In June 2020, my father died. I’ve had a lot of first-without-hims since then. Birthday, Christmas, life events. It still sneaks up on you, though.

And when I approached my seat in the auxiliary press box at Truist Park, there, sitting waiting for me in a little plastic box, was my 2021 Atlanta Braves World Series Press Pin.

The tradition continues. I didn’t even have to ask this time.

But I also didn’t have anyone to show it to.

So I took a moment, alone, in the bathroom stall. Then I heard my dad’s voice, telling me to get back to work. Someone was paying me perfectly good money to go to the World Series.

I slipped the pin into my pocket, washed my face, and went back to my seat. When I get home, I’ll need another moment when I open my case and add the latest item to my ever-growing collection of things I might want to display in there as I pick them up.