Press Club of Cleveland prepares to celebrate one of the pioneers in Cleveland sports journalism
Cleveland.com/Cleveland Plain Dealer sportswriter Mary Kay Cabot will be inducted into The Press Club of Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame on Wednesday. Our sports commentator Terry Pluto has known Cabot since she first got her start at the Plain Dealer and got a chance to write an appreciation of her ahead of her induction.
“Mary Kay was an intern at the Plain Dealer in ‘83 when I was a baseball writer. And then in ‘84, they hired her full time out of Kent State. Grew up in Lakewood. Her father was a firefighter.”
And being a sports writer wasn't her goal. That’s just where they placed her.
“She was a little like me when I came out of Cleveland State. I was just looking for a writing job. I would have preferred to do sports, but I just wanted to write. In most cases, the best writers in sports don't necessarily love sports. They like sports, but they love to write. So, Mary Kay had that. She did the Cleveland Force soccer team for several years before the Browns. The remarkable thing I didn't realize she's been doing this thing for 31 years with the Browns.”
Cabot started on the Browns beat in 1991. She was 29 years old and the first female major pro beat writer in the history of the Cleveland market.
“She came in with Bill Belichick, who's tough on everybody, men, women, anybody.”
Belichick, the legendary coach of the New England Patriots, coached the Browns for five seasons in the early 1990s.
“Back then he was even worse with the media. Bill had a favorite broadcaster named Casey Coleman, who had done the Browns radio. [Belichick] would bring Casey and Mary Kay in on Monday mornings after many games, and they'd look at film for a while.”
“I think what she's had to deal with 31 years -- For winning seasons, two trips to the playoffs, one move to Baltimore, a thousand coaches hired and fired and a million quarterbacks. Mary Kay and I've talked a little bit about how that -- neither one of us has had much to write about positive about the Browns.”
And, covering the Browns that long gave her the nickname "The Queen of the Damned" in a 2016 article published in The Ringer.
“That was back when the Browns were losing all those games, even more than now. And we talked about this one time to sit out there and look at those fans, because in the press box, you're kind of right above where all the fans are, you could see them and go, I just wish we could give them better stories.”
She also shared some personal and some painful parts of her personal life.
“She had three miscarriages before her first son, Chris came. Now she's had three kids and one [miscarriage] after, and she volunteered to talk about that because she said she wanted people to be aware of this, also to treasure the family you have. Now, her husband, Bill Murman, is a big part of this. She said our life is kids and Browns.”
With Mary Kay Cabot’s decades of covering the Browns, and the recent departure of longtime Akron Beacon Journal sportswriter and columnist Marla Ridenour after 23 years, Pluto says there is some young talent come up the ranks in Cleveland.
A female sportswriter I really like at the Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com is Ashley Bastock. I think she's actually kind of been mentored by Mary Kay. She's on the Browns. She played basketball at John Carroll and then she was at the Beacon Journal and Toledo before that, doing high school sports. I think she could be the next Mary Kay.”
And he says there are no plans yet to retire – for either of them.
“We both talked about that. We're not going anywhere. We both love it. I also think she's worked so hard to get to this spot, not just the Hall of Fame, but where she's respected. One day she might end up in a pro football hall of Fame, the media wing. That's a possibility. I mean, she's one of the pioneers, and like Dave Campbell, who's our sports editor [at Cleveland.com], says, Mary Kay, I don't know when she sleeps. She's relentless.”