It seemed only fitting that the memorial celebration of legendary Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope was held Tuesday night at the Clevelander bar at Marlins Park, formerly the East end zone of the Orange Bowl, the site where Pope chronicled the Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes for more than half a century.
A crowd of 300 — former colleagues, fans and South Florida sports icons ranging in age from 20s to 90s — showed up to pay tribute to Pope, who died Jan. 19 of cancer at age 88.
Among the familiar faces: former UM football coach Howard Schnellenberger, former Dolphins’ star quarterback Bob Griese, radio personality Hank Goldberg, and G. Holmes Braddock, who spent 38 years on the Dade County School Board and has missed fewer than 20 home games in 70 seasons.
The event was organized by Herald sports columnist Greg Cote, and longtime Herald columnist Dan LeBatard, now with 790-The Ticket and ESPN Radio.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez shared some stories and presented a certificate proclaiming Feb. 28 Edwin Pope Day.
“Edwin Pope was the godfather of sports as it related to the City of Miami and State of Florida,” said Schnellenberger. “For me, and my team at UM, he was our staunchest voice, our greatest advocate. He did more to promote the growth and development of Miami sports than anyone else.
“Edwin was here before I got here, and he was here long after I left. The Schnellenberger family loved him. I feel bad that I didn’t get to say goodbye.”
Griese also had great memories of Pope: “He was short. He was fair. He was smart. He was a great father. He always asked me how my kids were doing. He wrote a lot of great stuff about us. If he ever wrote anything negative or critical, he’d show up at camp the next morning at 8 a.m. to face the music. That’s why we respected him.”
Donations in Pope’s memory can be sent to: Athens Y Camp, P.O. Box 8, Tallulah Falls, Ga., 30573 or Hospice of Okeechobee, P.O. Box 1548, Okeechobee, FL, 34973.