Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
Ted Silary set a standard that will never be surpassed.
For 40-plus years, the Daily News scribe and East Germantown native wrote about this city’s high school sports — and, occasionally, a few others — in a way that poured his love for the city, its sports and above all its young athletes onto the page, his focus and his style making it all-too-clear that it was the players themselves who above all deserved attention.
Longtime Philadelphia Daily News scribe Ted Silary (above) passed away at 72 years old this week. (Photo courtesy TedSilary.com).
It’s telling that Silary refused to be interviewed by anybody upon his official retirement in 2019 — six years after he left the Daily News. He hated the spotlight, or any attention shone his way. But after passing away today at the age of 72, Silary’s been receiving nothing but admiration from thousands upon thousands on social media, a testament to the impact he had on the Philadelphia hoops landscape.
Silary’s final year at the Daily News was CoBL’s first as an organization. I was admittedly a little awed when I would see him at games, knew of his legend and status in the area, having read his stories in the paper growing up, even if I didn’t quite fully comprehend the greatness I was reading at the time.
Unlike others who are sure to put up tributes of Ted in the days to come, I can’t say that I personally was mentored by him, or that he had a direct hand in my success as a journalist. It was only secondarily that Ted impacted CoBL, but there’s no doubt that if there was no Ted Silary, there would be no CoBL.
Ted set the standard of writing about the player, not the game. He let his readers know who they were watching as people before they were basketball players or football players, the person before the pitcher, their personality before their stats.
He was also — as his all-too-familiar website can attest to — a devoted researcher who loved to compile list upon list; his site, even after its regular updates ceased, is still an incredibly valuable tool of its own, a snapshot of the city’s hoops history, with incredible detail going back decades.
“When I had a question for Ted, he would try to find the answer no matter how unimportant the information was,” Defector’s Dan McQuade said. “He was just as exhaustive in his coverage of high school athletes. He wanted every score, every kid’s name, every player’s silly nickname in the paper. It’s a testament to how good he was at this that I know countless people who still consider it a thrill to have been interviewed by Ted or even just mentioned by him. For some it was the only time they’d ever get their name in the paper.
“I don’t think anyone can fully express how good he was for this city, for this region.”
More than just a great high school sports reporter, Ted Silary was a great reporter, period. Read any one of his stories and you can see the care and attention he put into every sentence, every paragraph. His nicknames for players were legendary, as were the different reporters he had working for him over the years — Amauro Austin, Tom ‘Hock’ McKenna, Huck Palmer, and many others, scattered around the city gathering stats and notes for Ted’s endless piles of resources.
Many people over the years have told me and CoBL’s writers that we’re the ones following in Ted Silary’s footsteps, but those words have always made me uncomfortable: Ted was a far better writer and knew this city better than we ever will, and we know it. There was only, and will only ever be, one Ted Silary.
This city will miss Ted, and we’ll do our best to try to live up to the benchmark he set.
Tributes to Ted
(Tributes will update as they come in; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
“Ted was amazing. His write-ups and stats were something I looked forward to daily during high school. Once I got into athletics, regardless of what school, he would check in and just see how I was doing. And would call just to chat about the latest changes in our league or state. He was truly one of one. Legend.” — Danny DiBerardinis, St. Joseph’s Prep AD
“As someone who grew up looking at his website, an email he sent me after a broadcast meant the world to me. I had reached out at the direction of Joe Parisi, who was close with him, three days prior and he immediately responded. But then three days later; he emailed me out of the blue after he watched the Wood vs Prep PCL quarterfinal game. I will always remember looking at his website with my grandfather, but I think my lasting memory will also be getting that email from him.” — Will Ryan, La Salle College HS ‘23
“Ted Silary established the standard for high school reporting. He covered the Philadelphia prep scene the way some people covered professional teams. At a time when many writers didn’t want to go into the city to see games, Ted went everywhere. He had such great rapports with players, coaches and fans, and that helped him find stories nobody else could. Ted was generous with his knowledge and cared about making sure those who weren’t covered enough received attention. He was a mainstay on a dynamite Daily News sports staff and the best ever at covering this region’s high school sports.” — Michael Bradley, Villanova University
“He was so great to Adam and I. Growing up, playing basketball in the Philadelphia area and going on TedSilary.com was everything. If you saw Ted at your game you knew there was some level of importance behind the game itself. The coverage he gave our 2005-2006 Conwell-Egan team was really great considering we were close to doing something that didn’t happen often at CEC. However, beyond all that he was just so genuine and kind in how he went about covering high school basketball in Philadelphia.” — Ryan Van Zelst, Cabrini head MBB coach
I was a young 1st time head coach at a brand new school that no one had ever heard of. Yet he took the time and effort to add a ‘Tedbit’ to highlight our program. Ted was about the people involved in the game — did not look at levels or talents, just respected the people that make basketball a great game and a better community. He was an icon and will be missed. I’m a better person and coach for having the pleasure to share conversations.” — Ryan Kilkenny, Father Judge basketball
“Ted was the best and as genuine as they come. Could have ‘moved up’ multiple times at the Daily News, stayed true to where his heart and joy was — high school sports. He paved the road for so many. He never had an agenda, only to help as many student athletes as he possibly could, even after he stopped covering sports. His website was/is a go to for so many. He was as good as they come and will be sorely missed by anybody fortunate enough to know him. I truly have never met anyone who said anything bad about him, Hall of Fame writer, but more importantly Hall of Fame Person.” — Blair Klumpp
“I went to Episcopal, Class of 1981. When Ted showed up, you knew it was a BIG GAME. I started buying the DN in high school for Ted's reporting and stats packages -- we were Inquirer people at home. I remember how disappointed I'd be when that day's DN had no Ted story!!! His notes packages were can't miss -- it was what there was before the Internet and social media.” — Brad Wilson, Lehigh Valley Live
"This one really hurts. Ted Silary enriched the lives of so many young athletes in Philadelphia just by taking the time to truly get to know them, care about them, and give them the notoriety and accolades they earned. It didn’t matter if they were future D-I athletes or kids who were never going to play sports in college. He always had time to talk to me about current or past high school basketball teams and players. A great writer and a better person, the Philadelphia basketball community will miss Ted tremendously. Thank you for everything!" -- Rob Powlen, Robeson boys head coach
"I've known Ted on a personal and professional level since 1978. I first met him when he asked me to "cover" a Public League playoff baseball game. My job was to identify key moments, get a few quotes, phone numbers, and a box score and send that information to him. The reason I mention this is, it shows how Ted wanted to give newspaper exposure to as many high school student - athletes as possible. If there were playoff games taking place, he covered one game and sent 3 other people to cover the remaining three games. Even if he could only get the box score published, he got kids names into the paper.
When I became a High School Baseball Coach and Athletic Director, I got to see another side of Ted. He was a ferocious reporter who would track down a story about something he thought was wrong and make it public. He wanted to defend the student-athletes in the Public, Catholic and Inter-Ac leagues. Even though there were some issues that did not positively reflect on a league, I always felt Ted was fair, giving people the opportunity to tell their side of the story. Ted was a true journalist in every sense of the word.
As years went on, Ted and I became friends to the point that it wasn't unusual for me to get a text from him, late at night, critiquing an announcer in an NBA game to passing on the rumored transfer of a prominent high school basketball player. One text usually turned int a string of about 20 back and forth. This is something I always enjoyed and will miss. May he rest in peace." -- Joe Parisi, La Salle College HS Athletic Director
I am sad to pass word that Ted Silary, a great friend to many, has passed at 72. I owe my career to him. I strongly believe to no one anywhere, at any time, covered high school sports better than Ted. (1 of 2)— Pat McLoone (@PatMcLoone) May 18, 2023
RIP the great Ted Silary. If I’ve talked to 700 Philly hoops people over the years, 500 brought up Ted’s name. Ted was so generous with (post-retirement) ideas. Pre-retirement, he was fiercest of competitors for all us Inquirer folks. He could have covered anything, chose HS’s.— Mike Jensen (@jensenoffcampus) May 18, 2023
Sad news hearing about the loss of Ted Silary. Ted is synonymous w Phila HS hoops. His website was a 1 stop shop. Getting a shoutout in a post game report was one of the highlights of my HS career @SJPREP . A great person, both genuine and kind. Praying for his family.— Coach Griffin (@JohnGriffinIII) May 18, 2023
RIP Ted Silary One of the most well known HS Hoops writers in Philly History. To have Ted mention your name in one of his articles meant everything as a HS athlete. A true LEGEND! Prayers to him & his family— DJ Irving (@CoachDJIrving) May 18, 2023
May 18, 2023
Ted Silary was THE standard covering high school basketball. I spent hours and hours and hours pouring through info on the site that he so meticulously compiled over the years.— Varun Kumar (@vrkumar8) May 18, 2023
RIP to an absolute pillar of the local high school sports scene pic.twitter.com/zGQk89Ne7Q
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