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By Mark Jurgena
The local sports columnist could sense it. He knew what this elementary school-aged kid would end up doing for his career.
“About the 5th grade or so I took a real big interest in sports,” began Steve Porter. “Paul Levo who used to be a columnist for the Troy Tribune way back said, ‘watch out for this little Stevie Porter he’s going to be a sports writer someday,’”
Those words turned prophetic as Porter – a Troy native and 1969 Triad graduate – spent 45 years spinning yarns about sports in local newspapers.
All those decades of stories earned him the Greg Marecek Memorial Award for media and enshrinement into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame with the Class of 2023.
Porter and nine others – along with the state championship baseball teams from Edwardsville High School – were inducted during a ceremony on Feb. 20 at the Gateway Classic Cars Events Center in O’Fallon.
That ceremony was for recipients from the Illinois side of the St. Louis Metro. A separate ceremony will be held for Missouri inductees later this year.
“I’m so thankful that people recognize you for what you do,” said Porter. “Athletes are easily recognized for their achievements. Statistics tell the story a lot of times, people know them for what they’ve done. But people in the media – sports writing and broadcasting – that’s a little different.”
He began his career writing for The Alestle – the student newspaper at SIUE – and studying Journalism. He landed a job at the Collinsville Herald while still in college and spent two years covering the likes of the legendary Vergil Fletcher.
After graduating in 1973, he wrote the next 40 years for the Alton Telegraph where he eventually became the long-serving sports editor. He finished his career with the Alton AdVantage news.
It was in Alton that his biggest memories covering events occurred.
There were countless Fridays where he covered various high school sports. On Saturday he might cover the football or basketball teams at the University of Illinois or SIUE basketball. Then on Sunday, he would cover the St. Louis Cardinals or Rams of the NFL or even a Cardinals baseball game.
“Within a span of 72 hours I could cover a high school, college, or pro event, I had that luxury,” Porter said. “It gave you a great perspective of things. You see high school, college, and pro competitions on the same weekend and it really makes you appreciate sports at all levels.”
As if that wasn’t enough, he counts some of the biggest sporting events in the land among his career highlights.
Porter covered the 2005 NCAA men’s basketball championships in St. Louis which saw Illinois fall to North Carolina in the championship game.
“It was so unusual for Illinois to be in the Final Four and the Final Four to be in St. Louis in the same year,” he said. “I don’t know if that will ever happen again. Illinois will make the Final Four again and I’m sure there will be a Final Four in St. Louis. But I don’t know if both will happen at the same time again.”
Finally, Porter listed covering the Cardinals in the World Series on seven different occasions as another highlight.
There wasn’t a specific moment in those Fall Classics he recalled, rather it was the Cardinals of his youth
“I grew up a big Cardinal fan and the ‘64 team was my favorite,” he remembered. “I was a youngster at the time and just the way they came back and clinched it the last day of the regular season and then won the World Series.”
It’s not surprising that the miracle team of the mid-60s influenced him so much. That was the same period when he received encouragement from teachers and coaches such as Harold Schwehr at McCray-Dewey Jr. High and Rich Mason at Triad to go into sports writing.
That encouragement landed him among the legends of St. Louis sports history.
“The recognition I got I’m so fortunate to have that happen,” said Porter. “I’m so thankful that people think that much of me.”
STL Hall of Fame Notes
The Greg Marecek award was named for the founder of the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame. Marecek created the Hall in 2009 and oversaw its growth until his passing in 2020.
Porter was the second recipient of the Marecek award. Legendary Cardinals writer and Baseball Hall of Fame member Rick Hummel was the first one last year.