On July 11, 2016, West Virginia lost a legend — sportswriter Mickey Furfari. Known as the “dean” of West Virginia sportswriters, Furfari died at the age of 92 after covering his alma mater, West Virginia University, for 70 seasons.
Furfari graduated from the School of Journalism in 1948. Dean Emeritus Guy Stewart and Furfari were classmates. Stewart says Furfari was a great friend of the School and will be missed.
“When I was dean, Mickey taught a course or two at the School. I put him in as a pinch hitter because he was a good one,” said Stewart. “His influence on the young people he taught was important. I’m sure they learned a lot just from hearing his stories.”
Furfari was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. He was the co-sports editor of The Daily Athenaeum, WVU’s student newspaper, along with the late Jack Fleming, who was known as the “Voice of the Mountaineers.”
Alumnus Hoppy Kercheval (BSJ, 1976) is vice president of operations for West Virginia Radio Corporation and host of Metronews Talkline. He says Furfari’s work ethic and willingness to ask tough questions inspired him as a journalist. Kercheval wrote about Furfari in his daily commentary on July 12.
“He was a throwback in this now rapidly-evolving business of reporting. His journalism was one of fundamentals– shoe leather, on-the-record sources, scribbling in a notebook and accurate quotes,” said Kercheval. “Rumors of Furfari’s death spread quickly on Twitter Monday, but Mickey would have wanted confirmation first.”
Furfari had been writing stories for the Times West Virginian since 1989 and continued to so for as long as he could. Even after he became legally blind, Furfari would call in his stories to a reporter at the Times West Virginian who would transcribe them.
Furfari has claimed a variety of honors, including: Young Man of the Year from the Morgantown Jaycees (1958), Gene Morehouse Memorial Award from West Virginia Sports Writers Association (1974), Proficiency Award from the Morgantown Touchdown Club (1976) and the Perley Isaac Reed Award from the WVU School of Journalism. The West Virginia Sports Writers Association’s college coach of the year award is named for him, and a Legends of West Virginia University basketball scholarship fund was created in his name.
A five-time West Virginia Sports Writer of the Year, Furfari is a lifetime member of the WVU Alumni Association, West Virginia Sports Writers Association and Baseball Writers Association of America. He served as a member of the WVU all-time sports and WVU Sports Hall of Fame selection committees.