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Dave Ginsburg, the ‘epitome of an Associated Press sportswriter,’ to retire after 37 years

Dave Ginsburg, photographed in his home in Reisterstown in March 2017, is retiring after 37 years with the Associated Press. Ginsburg was sports editor for the Maryland bureau of AP for more than three decades.
Dave Ginsburg, photographed in his home in Reisterstown in March 2017, is retiring after 37 years with the Associated Press. Ginsburg was sports editor for the Maryland bureau of AP for more than three decades. (Nate Pesce / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Dave Ginsburg was there the night Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played. Newspapers from coast to coast printed the Associated Press account of the events of Sept. 6, 1995 when the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer played in his 2,131st successive start.

Ginsburg was also on duty at Camden Yards when Ripken voluntarily ended “The Streak” at 2,632. It was the final game of the 1998 season and only a handful of beat writers were on hand when the “Iron Man” surprised the Major League Baseball world by choosing to sit out.

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Baseball fans nationwide learned the news from the alert Ginsburg posted to the AP wire within minutes of discovering Ripken was not in the starting lineup.

When Maryland men’s basketball captured the only national championship in program history on the night of April 1, 2002, Ginsburg was courtside at the Georgia Dome to chronicle the moment. He covered the Washington Capitals throughout the 2018 postseason when the snake-bitten franchise finally secured its first Stanley Cup title.

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As the Associated Press sports editor for Maryland since 1990, Ginsburg has written about almost every major milestone or event held within the state over the last three decades. That remarkable run will come to an end next month when Ginsburg retires from full-time work following a total of 37 years with the wire service.

Ginsburg echoed the words of Gehrig, the original “Iron Man,” when he says he feels like the “luckiest man on the face of the earth.” It speaks to the respect the Reisterstown resident engenders from fellow members of the media that he has appeared on Sports Unlimited with Bruce Cunningham of WBFF Fox 45 and the Glenn Clark Radio show since word filtered out about his retirement.

“This has been a dream career because I’ve always loved to write, and I’ve always loved sports. To be able to combine those two passions and actually get paid for writing about sports has been the thrill of a lifetime,” Ginsburg said.

Along the way, Ginsburg has taken time to pause and reflect on how fortunate he’s been to make a career out of his hobby. Atop the list of all-time favorite moments was that Maryland national championship game when he was sent to Atlanta to assist with coverage.

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As a lifelong Maryland basketball fan and alumnus of the College Park campus, Ginsburg understood better than other media members what this meant to the men’s basketball program and the entire university.

Maryland had lost to Duke in the Final Four the previous season and endured many other heartbreaks in the NCAA Tournament. That was the angle of the Maryland sidebar Ginsburg wrote: The Heartache is Over. He framed a newspaper clipping of the story and the Final Four media credential along with the Sports Illustrated cover that featured Juan Dixon.

“As the clock was winding down, I stopped writing and soaked it all in,” Ginsburg recalled. “My alma mater was winning the national championship. I was there and writing about it for a national audience. It does not get better than that.”

Ginsburg has covered three Super Bowls and a World Series along with the Stanley Cup finals, appreciating those experiences as well. In January 1988, he was still relatively new with AP when sent to San Diego to cover Super Bowl XXII at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego.

Quarterback Doug Williams was named Most Valuable Player after leading the Washington Redskins to a 42-10 rout of the Denver Broncos. Ginsburg’s game story appeared in the early edition of The Washington Post, which later subbed the version written by its own beat writer.

“My goal from the beginning was to cover the Super Bowl for the Washington Post, and in a roundabout way I was able to do that,” Ginsburg said.

Longtime Baltimore bureau of Associated Press sports editor Dave Ginsburg sits along press row at Xfinity Center with his younger brother. Steve Ginsburg routinely assisted his older brother at various sporting events.
Longtime Baltimore bureau of Associated Press sports editor Dave Ginsburg sits along press row at Xfinity Center with his younger brother. Steve Ginsburg routinely assisted his older brother at various sporting events. (Courtesy Photo)

Lifelong dream

Ginsburg grew up in Silver Spring as part of a sports-oriented family that followed the Redskins, the Washington Senators and Maryland athletics. He and younger brother Steve read the Washington Post sports section every morning before school.

“Wouldn’t it be great to become a sportswriter?” Steve Ginsburg mused aloud one day.

They both did with Steve plying his trade for many years with Reuters, an international that competed directly against the AP for subscribers. Dave Ginsburg was thrilled to have his brother alongside as a regular assistant and they were together in New Orleans when the Baltimore Ravens won their second Super Bowl in 2012.

“My brother was always a great editor, an excellent set of eyes on a story before I sent it,” Ginsburg said.

Sports were such an important part of Ginsburg’s life that his Bar Mitzvah gathering centered around going to a Baltimore Bullets game at the Civic Center. He wrote sports for The Diamondback student newspaper at Maryland and recalls covering basketball star John Lucas as the top singles player for the tennis team.

Following graduation, Ginsburg worked part-time covering high school sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel and Washington Evening Star. After becoming sports editor at the Sentinel, he later got a six-month paid internship with the Associated Press, which was more promising even though it mostly involved mundane work on the news desk.

AP sportswriter Ira Rosenfeld took Ginsburg under his wing, bringing the rookie reporter to Redskins Park and allowing him to write the late story for the wire.

Ginsburg impressed enough to get hired full-time by the D.C. bureau, working the news desk most of the day and covering sports whenever possible. He inherited the Redskins and Georgetown basketball beats from Rosenfeld.

Former Baltimore Oriole Rick Dempsey, left, and Dave Ginsburg await the next fan during a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Bel Air April 22, 2017. Ginsburg and Dempsey co-authored a book titled "If These Walls Could Talk."
Former Baltimore Oriole Rick Dempsey, left, and Dave Ginsburg await the next fan during a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Bel Air April 22, 2017. Ginsburg and Dempsey co-authored a book titled "If These Walls Could Talk." (Brian Krista | Aegis staff)

Perfect job

During those formative years, Ginsburg learned the golden rule of the Associated Press: Accurate information was paramount, speed was imperative, and fluff was not tolerated.

“Keep it straight, simple and quick for the first take. After that, you get another hour to polish it up,” he said. “It was more important to have all the details than to be creative.”

Gordon Beard, a legend as longtime sports editor for the Maryland bureau, used Ginsburg as a stringer covering Maryland, Navy, Bullets, Capitals and Orioles. That experience and introduction to the Baltimore-based editors was instrumental in Ginsburg getting the job a few years after Beard retired.

“Once I became entrenched with AP, it turned out to be the perfect job for me,” he said. “I loved the variety of coverage and actually enjoyed the deadlines.”

With 81 home games per season, Ginsburg spent more time at his perennial perch on the left-hand side of the press box at Camden Yards than anywhere else. Slogging through a 10-game home-stand can become monotonous — as can producing three stories for each (breaking, optional and late version).

“I relished sitting at a blank screen to start the game and by the final out I have crafted a 500-word story that explained exactly what happened,” said Ginsburg, adding there was no more satisfying feeling than hitting the send button.

For years, Ginsburg planned summer family vacations around the Orioles schedule. That will no longer be the case starting next month and he’s already scheduled trips to Barbados, Jamaica and Hilton Head Island. The 67-year-old is looking forward to playing tennis, going to the movies and reading more often while spending quality time with beloved wife Cyndy.

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“Cyndy has been by my side and 100 percent supportive for the whole journey,” he said.

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Ginsburg recycled a quote from former Ravens offensive lineman Marshall Yanda when asked why he is retiring now.

“I wanted to go out on my terms. I wanted to walk away before they shoved me out the door,” he said.

Ginsburg was so well regarded within the Associated Press he was sent to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, to cover ice hockey. Howie Rumberg, deputy sports editor for the New York sports bureau, has been editing Ginsburg’s material for years and said he will be sorely missed.

“Dave is the epitome of an AP sportswriter: clean copy that was in before the final out or at the buzzer and an ability to scrap a lead at the last minute and still beat deadline. I don’t think there was a sport he couldn’t cover,” Rumberg said. “He was precise, just stylish enough and breezy. I loved reading his gamers because he knew the sport and how to tell a story.”

Long ago, Ginsburg earned the title as dean of Maryland sportswriters. He was a fixture in the press boxes at Maryland Stadium and Oriole Park or along press row at Xfinity Center or Capital One Arena.

“Dave is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around, but the amazingly full schedule he’s kept over all these years covering every major sport has never taken the smile off his face. He’s one of those people who make the job fun for everyone else, too,” said former Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck, who retired in 2019.

Tributes to Ginsburg have poured in since word of his retirement spread. Former Maryland men’s basketball coach Gary Williams was among those who offered praise.

“It seems like Dave was always there covering our games. It was great to have a Maryland man writing about our 2002 championship game in Atlanta,” Williams said. “That game was so important to so many Maryland fans. It was appropriate that Dave wrote the story for the Associated Press. Thanks for your efforts over the years covering Maryland basketball and football.”

Ripken got to know Ginsburg quite well through countless interviews inside the Camden Yards clubhouse. As a fan, Ripken marveled that Ginsburg “seemed to cover every sporting event in the state.”

“Dave was always one of the beat reporters you enjoyed speaking with and being around,” Ripken said. “He is a consummate professional and has an easy way about him even when working hard and on deadline. I wish him well in his much-deserved retirement.”

Ginsburg’s final game will be Maryland-Minnesota basketball on Feb. 14 in College Park.

David Ginsburg, longtime sports editor for the Maryland bureau of hte Associated Press, goofs off with radio broadcaster Craig Heist on a giveaway day at Oriole Park.
David Ginsburg, longtime sports editor for the Maryland bureau of hte Associated Press, goofs off with radio broadcaster Craig Heist on a giveaway day at Oriole Park. (Courtesy Photo)

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