For decades, the late Marshall Johnson was probably the most well-known, highly-regarded and respected sportswriter in Virginia. His career included writing for a couple of different daily newspapers, then for a longtime for Associated Press with the Richmond Bureau.
Johnson always was a fixture at the annual Virginia High School League’s girls and boys state basketball tournaments, no matter where the venue for the semifinals or finals. He also was known for diligently keeping accurate and detailed facts and records about high-school teams.
Need to know a correct past record of a team, Johnson was the man to call. He was a walking encyclopedia regarding VHSL sports. Years ago, Johnson was kind enough to help the Sun Gazette accurately straighten out a team’s record discrepancy.
Johnson was inducted into both the VHSL and Virginia Sports Hall of Fames, and the VHSL has a sportsmanship award named in his honor.
Johnson died a few years back in 2013 at age 92.
But his memory lives on, especially at the annual VHSL state basketball tournament. That’s where longtime VHSL director of communications Mike McCall does a neat thing to continue honoring and recognizing the missed Johnson.
Each year since Johnson’s death, McCall places the writer’s name tag at a spot near him on the tournament’s media table, as if the popular scribe again would be covering the games in person. McCall made an agreement with Johnson years ago that he would continue including him among the tournament’s working media long after his death.
McCall has kept his word. The photo with this blog is of Johnson’s media badge placed on the media table reserving his spot to sit and work the championship basketball games of the recently-completed state tournament, held March 10-12 at the Siegel Center in Richmond.
Thanks for the nice remembrance, Mike, and keep that tradition going.
– Dave Facinoli