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Jeff Seidel, veteran Baltimore sports writer, dies

Jeff Seidel was a versatile reporter who covered high school, college and pro sports in Baltimore and Maryland.
Jeff Seidel was a versatile reporter who covered high school, college and pro sports in Baltimore and Maryland. (Courtesy Photo/HANDOUT)

Jeff Seidel, a versatile freelance Baltimore sports writer who covered high school athletics for 35 years, died of complications of cancer Saturday at Levindale Rehabilitation. The Pikesville resident was 59.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Zane Seidel, a Lasting Paints marketing executive, and Elaine Goldman, a hospital administrative assistant.

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He was a 1980 graduate of Pikesville High School and ran track at the school. He attended the University of Delaware before earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

“He began attending sports events with his father at a really young age,” said his son, Zach Seidel. “There was a family story about a game at the old Civic Center [now Royal Farms Arena.] It was snowing and his mother did not want him to travel. But he wanted to see Lew Alcindor Jr. [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] play. He just really loved sports and there was no question that he would see Alcindor play.”

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Family members recalled that as a child, Mr. Seidel kept his baseball cards in a potato chip container.

As a student he was a reporter and sports editor for The Retriever, the UMBC student newspaper.

“Jeff was the kind of person who was always willing to help,” said Todd Karpovich, a fellow sports writer and friend. “He was well-liked by everyone.”

Mr. Seidel was a well-known presence in high school and college athletics.

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His work appeared in The Baltimore Sun and its sister publications, and in publications that included the Catholic Review, The Washington Post, Lacrosse Magazine, ESPN: The Magazine, Rink Side and the Washington Jewish Week. His stories also were distributed by The Associated Press.

“He was a dream freelancer. He never complained about an assignment. He was always available. He could write about anything — from football, to cross country to horse racing,” said former Baltimore Sun sports editor Gerry Jackson.

Mr. Jackson also said, “The high school kids loved him, too. He was a great professional. School administrations welcomed him with open arms. He kept the right perspective and tone. What he covered was important to the kids and parents.

“Jeff was just a terrific human being,” Mr. Jackson said.

Mr. Seidel began writing in The Sun in September 1986. Among his earliest stories were game stories titled, “Pikesville stays undefeated, beats Centennial, 12-6, in OT,” “Milford Mill special teams key 34-0 win over Pikesville” and “Panthers survive Bayhawks and rally for 22-20 win.”

His writing continued until earlier this year.

Mr. Seidel wrote several books, including “Baltimore Orioles: Where Have You Gone? Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, and Other Orioles Greats” published in 2017.

The Orioles issued a statement about Mr. Seidel and referred to him as “a dedicated journalist who always had time for fellow colleagues and friends.”

The statement also recalled him as a “kind, thoughtful individual ... who brought joy to every press box he ever worked in.”

In 2020, after being diagnosed with colon cancer, Mr. Seidel wrote in The Sun, “Trey Mancini and I don’t share many similarities. He’s age 28, and I’m 57. He’s a much better hitter and defensive player for the Orioles than I was in Little League. Yet we do share one thing — stage 3 colon cancer.”

Mr. Seidel said he was diagnosed in 2016 and immediately underwent surgery.

“Over the next five months after my surgery, I slogged my way through 11 out of 12 treatments,” he wrote. “The hardest thing to deal with during those chemotherapy sessions are the small but nagging side effects that come with it. Everyone’s experiences are different, even if the treatment is pretty much the same, according to what I’ve learned.”

He said that the physicians and nurses who took care of him said that this treatment is rather strong and can wear you down in different ways. It builds up over time, he said.

“There were some days that it took me two hours to get out of bed, and I still needed a nap later,” he wrote. “There also might be a bit of nausea, even though anti-nausea medicine is given. I wore anti-nausea bands on my wrists, and that helped in a big way.”

Mr. Seidel also wrote non-sports feature stories, including a piece on a Catonsville farmers market.

“This market is not just about food. ... There’s local vineyards, breweries, and even a knife-sharpening business that seems popular. But in the end, it’s certainly about the food, and there’s plenty of it,” he wrote in the Catonsville Times this year.

Zach Seidel said of his father: “He was irreverent. He always had a sense of humor working. He had a smile and a joke ready and a question: ‘How are you doing?’”

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 32 years, Nadine Handwerger, a retired special education teacher; a daughter, Kara Seidel of Pikesville; his mother, Elaine Seidel of Pikesville; and his sister, Sara Jane Armuth of Westfield, New Jersey.

Services were held Monday at B’nai Israel Cemetery.

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