John McNamara (sportswriter)

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John McNamara
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Born(1961-07-30)July 30, 1961
Bethesda, MD
DiedJune 28, 2018(2018-06-28) (aged 56)
Annapolis, MD
  • Sportswriter
  • Journalist

John McNamara, born July 30, 1961 in Bethesda, MD was a sportswriter in the Washington Metro area, beginning as a high school sports editor in 1977 until he was murdered in the Capital Gazette shooting on June 28, 2018.

During his life, McNamara was a prolific journalist, covering sports and news in Maryland. He had written and edited for the St. John's College High School Sabre newspaper, the University of Maryland College Park Diamondback newspaper,[1] the Washington Post, the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, the Prince George's County (MD) Journal[2] and The Capital[3] in Annapolis, MD. He wrote three books on sports prior to his death,[4] and appeared as a guest commentator on line for the Washington Post,[5] and on radio on the Rick "Doc" Walker" show, and with Johnny Holliday to discuss Baltimore Orioles, and Washington Nationals baseball and on the Maryland Sports Radio Network. McNamara was a voter[6] in the Associated Press Top 25 NCAA basketball poll.[7] He won several awards for his writing from the Maryland - DC - Delaware Press Association. [8]

McNamara kept a blog, The Capital of Basketball: The Inside Scoop on DC Hoop at,[9] which reported stories, interviews, anniversaries, and other historical interest with great players whom he had watched in person when they played in at the high school level in the area. Others he interviewed and covered had become luminaries of area high school basketball earlier,[10] such as local and national celebrities James Brown and Coach Morgan Wootten, each bing one of many community philanthropists from the DeMatha Catholic High School and the WCAC, and other high schools in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Because many local star players returned to the area to coach, and continued a legacy of caring, thoughtful teaching and mentoring, the region's basketball culture is driven by these personalities. McNamara covered the youth play of rising stars including dozens of NBA players, many of whom went on to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Players he interviewed in high school included Len Bias, David Robinson, and Markelle Fultz. His interviews included earlier players such as Austin Carr and Dave Bing; among the other NBA No. 1 overall picks from the area were the incomparable Elgin Baylor (Spingarn High School) in 1958 and Fred Hetzel (Landon School) in 1965.

McNamara wrote or co-wrote a total of four books on sports history. [11] These are Cole Classics! Maryland's Men and Moments [12] in 2001; University of Maryland Men's Basketball 2002 National Champions[13] in 2002; and University of Maryland Football Vault [14] in 2009. His last book, The Capital of Basketball: A History of DC Area High School Hoops, [15] was completed by his wife, Andrea Chamblee, and sportswriter colleague, David Elfin after his death and published in 2019.

McNamara is memorialized on the Journalists Memorial at the Newseum[16] and named in a Special Award of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize.[17]

McNamara's life and untimely death have been captured in a CBS Sports mini-documentary, Remembering John McNamara. Another CBS mini-documentary by Mike Wise, "Survived By"[18], reported on Andrea Chamblee's own work completing his last book and also as a gun violence prevention activist, as well as the work of the other widows and children of the journalists murdered in the Capital Gazette shooting.

Tributes to McNamara and his writing include those by national sports columnist John Feinstein,[19]; WMAR American Broadcasting Company Baltimore, (MD) [20]; The Washington Post [21]; The Wall Street Journal [22]; The Athletic [23]; USA Today [24]; The Sporting News [25]; Book Authority [26]; Capital Gazette [27]; NPR The Kojo Nnamdi Show[28]; The Washingtonian [29]; The Washington Independent Review of Books [30]; Washington Monthly [31]; Montgomery County Media[32]; WTOP-FM radio [33], and Baltimore Baseball - Books of the Year [34]


  1. Archives, The Diamondback. "Diamondback Archives at the University of Maryland". Diamondback Archives at the University of Maryland. University of Maryland library archives. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  2. Journal Newspapers, Prince George's. "Prince George's Journal". Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  3. McNamara, John. "John McNamara, Staff Writer". Tribune Publishing. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  4. McNamara, John. "John McNamara Author page on Amazon". Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  5. McNamara, John (4 Mar 2002). "The End of an Era: U.Md.'s Cole Field House". No. 4 Mar 2002. The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  6. College Poll Tracker, John McNamara. "College poll tracker Basketball pollster John McNamara". College Poll Tracker. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  7. Top 25 College Basketball Poll, Associated Press. "AP Top 25 College Basketball Poll". AP Top 25 College Basketball Poll. Associated Press. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  9. McNamara, John. "Capital of Basketball blog". Capital of Basketball: The Inside Scoop on DC Hoop. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  10. Merida, Kevin (14 Aug 2005). "Off the Rim: Luminaries of the Past". No. 14 Aug 2005. The Washington Post Magazine. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  11. McNamara, John. "Author page". Amazon author page. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  12. McNamara, John. Cole Classics! Maryland's Men and Moments (2001 ed.). 21st Century Online Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 0965605752. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  13. McNamara, John (2002). University of Maryland men's basketball 2002 national champions (1st ed.). UMI Publications. p. 176. ISBN 0943860237. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  14. McNamara, John (2009). University of Maryland Football Vault (2009 ed.). Whitman Publishing. p. 144. ISBN 0794828116.
  15. McNamara, John (2019). The Capital of Basketball: A History of DC Area High School Hoops (2019 ed.). Georgetown University Press. p. 336. ISBN 9781626167209.
  18. Wise, Mike (2019). Survived By (2019 ed.). WUSA.
  19. Feinstein, John (3 July 2018). "Feinstein: Remembering McNamara". CBS Sports Radio. CBS Sports Radio. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  20. Stepner, Shawn. "Remembering John McNamara". WMAR ABC. WMAR ABC. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  21. Roberts, Steven V. (13 Dec 2019). "A love letter to the Washington area's high school hoops". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  22. Gay, Jason (22 Nov 2019). "Love and Basketball". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  23. Aldridge, David. "So I feel like I'm keeping this promise to John': Andrea Chamblee goes the last mile for her late husband". No. 24 Nov 2019. The Athletic.
  24. Lacques, Gabe. "'Story just had to be told': Slain Capital Gazette journalist's widow finishes his book". No. 29 Nov 2019. USAToday.
  25. DeCourcy, Mike (11 Nov 2019). "Labor of love: 'The Capital of Basketball' is wife's lasting tribute to sportswriter John McNamara". The Sporting News.
  26. Aldridge, John (11 Oct 2019). "Best Books of 2019". The Book Authority. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  27. Wagner, Bill (4 Nov 2019). "'You can't beat a good high school basketball game': Widow of John McNamara makes sure his final book is published". Capital Gazette. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  28. Nnamdi, Kojo (18 Nov 2019). "For Slain Capital Gazette Reporter, One Final Book On D.C. Sports". thekojonnamdishow. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  29. Williams, Elliot (29 Oct 2019). "He Was Murdered in a Mass Shooting. Now His Book Is Finally Being Published". The Washingtonian. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  30. Christine Brennan (17 Dec 2019). "The Capital of Basketball: A History of DC Area High School Hoops". Book Review in Non-Fiction, Sports & Games. Washington Independent Review of Books. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  31. Connolly, Matt (2020). "How D.C. Shaped Basketball Journalist John McNamara was writing the definitive history of D.C. high school basketball, until a mass murderer walked into his newsroom". Washington Monthly. January/February/March 2020.
  32. Tallman, Douglas (8 Nov 2019). "Montgomery Talks: Andrea Chamblee, Wife of Slain Capital Gazette Sportswriter". Montgomery Talks. MyMCMedia. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  33. Frank, Noah (27 Nov 2019). "'Capital of Basketball' is labor of love, friendship for wife of Gazette shooting victim". WTOP. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  34. Dubroff, Rich. "For your holiday shopping: The Best Baseball Books of 2019". Baltimore Baseball. Retrieved 14 April 2020.

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