Shenk honored at sportswriters' dinner

Shenk honored at sportswriters' dinner

CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- Larry Shenk had to put up with Philadelphia sportswriters for 44 years, so it was only fitting Monday night at the 104th annual Philadelphia SportsWriters Association dinner that Shenk was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his years of service as Phillies public relations director.

Shenk was easily the most animated of the honored guests, which also included Jimmy Rollins (Pro Athlete of the Year) and Phillies Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas, the MC of the event, who, unbeknownst to him prior to the dinner, was selected as the Living Legend.

"It's a little embarrassing," said the humbled Shenk, who will retire after Spring Training, having served the Phillies since October 1963. "I lived a dream job, the kind of job I wanted since I was a kid. What was very special for me was that my wife and my children were here tonight to share the moment with me, because there were a lot of lonely nights with this job."

Rich Westcott, a baseball historian and author, has known Shenk for over 30 years. He has a rare perspective on "The Baron."

"What made Larry so unique is that he's always been very, very professional," Westcott said. "That above all stands out about him. The other thing is that he's always treated everyone with dignity and respect. He's always had all the attributes you need to be a good PR person. This is a tough media market, with tough fans. And when Larry first started, they were still using typewriters. He's transcended the changes in the way baseball, in the way sports, is covered today.

"But the most important thing about Larry, which is very tough in this city, is that he has no enemies. Think about that, in a city like this. You have to have a bit of a thick skin and he's dealt with it fantastically well."

Shenk worked by a simple rule: Treat everyone the same. It may have ticked off some sportswriters demanding preferential treatment, but no one could ever say that Shenk played favorites.

"I found doing this, there's always something," Shenk said. "I remember when Chris Wheeler and I used to work in PR together and we coined the phrase 'We work in the department of confirmation and denials.'"

Shenk will be missed and very appreciated, especially by those who knew him best.

"Larry is as good as it gets in this business," Kalas said. "He will be missed. He was the kind of guy who made sure everyone got what they wanted, broadcasters, writers, it didn't matter. But for me, personally, what I think I'll miss most is Larry's personality. He has a great sense of humor, and he's always been fun to be around. That's what I'll miss about him most."

Shenk will continue working with the Phillies on a part-time basis after Spring Training, handling alumni relations as a senior adviser and helping with special events.

"If I walked away and did nothing, I'd go berserk, plus, I'd drive my wife up a wall," said Shenk, laughing. "I'll just look back some time and think that I was very blessed, blessed to be doing something I've always wanted to do since I was a kid."

Joseph Santoliquito is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.