Steve Vaughn Was Among Brevard’s Original Sports Journalists, ‘Covered Everything That Moved’

By  //  May 13, 2020

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began his journalism career at Cocoa High School in 1959 as sports editor for 'Tiger Topics'

Steve Vaughn began his journalism career as a sophomore at Cocoa High School in 1959 as the sports editor for the Tiger Topics student newspaper. Upon graduation from the University of Florida with a degree in Journalism, he returned home to Brevard and served as the sports editor for the Cocoa Tribune, Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. He retired in 1992 as the executive editor of the Orlando Sentinel.

“We tried to cover everything that moved. Little League? Softball leagues? High school sports? Box scores! League statistics! Bowling? Fishing? Golf? No problem!” – Cocoa Tribune Sports Editor Steve Vaughn, 1966

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Steve Vaughn began his journalism career as a sophomore at Cocoa High School in 1959 where he served the next three years as the sports editor for the Tiger Topics student newspaper and the TIGER school yearbook.

During that time, Vaughn wrote also sports columns for the Cocoa Tribune and the Orlando Sentinel Brevard edition, covering high school sports.

Vaughn said his affection for sports and journalism began as a kid in Atlanta, before his father went to work at the Cape and moved the family to Cocoa Beach.

His first sports hero was not an athlete, but a writer, Furman Bisher who became a legendary columnist for the Atlanta Journal.

Vaughn earned three varsity letters in baseball at Cocoa High School as a center fielder and was a member of the 1960 state-runner-up team, losing the championship game to Mulberry whose pitcher was Bob Murphy who later was a professional golfer on the PGA circuit.

Steve Vaughn began his journalism career as a sophomore at Cocoa High School in 1959, above, where he served the next three years as the sports editor for the Tiger Topics student newspaper and the TIGER school yearbook. During his award winning-career, Vaughn was the sports editor of the Orlando Sentinel, inset, and was then promoted to executive sports editor. (Image for Space Coast Daily)
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After graduating from Cocoa High in 1961, he continued to write for both newspapers the next two years while a student at Brevard Junior College, now Eastern Florida State College, where he also served as sports editor of the student newspaper The Capsule and the College’s Year Book the Spartan.

At Brevard Junior College, he earned two letters for baseball as a center fielder and a hard-throwing left-handed pitcher, to which Vaughn said he “occasionally threw strikes.”

Both Cocoa High School and Brevard Junior College played their games at Provost Park, which was also home to the Florida State minor league team, the Cocoa Indians. As an eighth-grader at Cocoa Jr. High, he used to shag fly balls for the Indians where he would challenge outfielder Felipe Alou for a catch.

ABOVE: The Brevard Junior College baseball team at Provost Park in 1963. At Brevard Junior College, Steve Vaughn, pictured top row middle, earned two letters for baseball as a center fielder and a hard-throwing left-handed pitcher. He also served as sports editor of the student newspaper The Capsule and the College’s Year Book the Spartan. He later graduated from the University of Florida with a Journalism degree.

Brevard Junior College’s “first” campus was on Forest Avenue, which had served as Cocoa High and Cocoa Jr. High. Vaughn proudly claims to be one of the few students anywhere to attend Junior High and Junior College in the same building.

After graduating from Brevard with an AA Degree he transferred to the University of Florida to study Journalism.

He became editor of the student newspaper the Florida Alligator and the University’s yearbook, the Seminole (no joke, that’s what it was called), positions he held for two years.

Upon graduation from the University of Florida, he returned home to serve as the sports editor for the Cocoa Tribune and then Florida Today.

The next stop was Orlando where he was the sports editor of the Orlando Sentinel for several years and was promoted to the position of executive sports editor and served one year as president of the Florida Sports Writers Association.

Vaughn later served as assistant managing editor, and in 1980, moved into the position of executive editor, where he served until his retirement in 1992.

Contrary to the current spin of uninformed, unsophisticated and self-proclaimed “originators” of complete sports coverage on the Space Coast, Steve Vaughn beat them to that title 60 years ago. Vaughn began covering sports in Brevard in 1959, and over the next 33 years, became a prolific award-winning sportswriter and editor. (Image for Space Coast Daily)

During his career with the Cocoa Tribune and Orlando Sentinel, he received numerous awards for his articles from the Florida Sports Writers Association and several awards from the National Sports Writers of America.

Some of his additional honors include Distinguished Alumni of Cocoa High in 1976; the Distinguished Alumni Award from Brevard Community College in 1998, and he has been inducted into the Florida Community College Activities Association in 2007; the Collegiate College Press Association in 1994; and the Florida Community College Press Association (2005) Hall of Fames.

Meanwhile, his 30-year career in slow-pitch softball which had begun in Cocoa came to an end in a 50 and older league in Orlando when those fly balls became increasingly difficult to track down.

Steve Vaughn says he learned enough from the Sentinel photographers to launch a second career in 1993, founding Steve Vaughn Panoramic Photography exhibiting “panoramic” photographs of Florida wetlands and beaches at outdoor art shows. He has participated for years in both the Melbourne Art Festival and Space Coast Art Show in Cocoa. (Image for Space Coast Daily)

Vaughn says he learned enough from the Sentinel photographers to launch a second career in 1993, founding Steve Vaughn Panoramic Photography exhibiting “panoramic” photographs of Florida wetlands and beaches at outdoor art shows. He has participated for years in both the Melbourne Art Festival and Space Coast Art Show in Cocoa.

The award-winning photographer’s work can now be found in numerous corporate and private collections and public venues including the Orlando and Daytona Beach airports and the chambers of the Cedar Key City Hall.

His largest panorama ever, which is 50-feet wide, is hanging at the Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Studios in Orlando.

Vaughn and his wife of 53 years Renae, a tax accountant, now reside in Maitland, Florida. Their son Michael is an Ironman athlete, surfer, lawyer and a Captain in the United States Coast Guard Reserve in Orlando. The couple’s daughter Kelley is a graphic artist and musician in New York City. The Vaughns have five grandsons.

EDITOR’S NOTE: At this point, the typical Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame profile would be concluded. However, Steve penned and submitted the below personal account to which the SCSHOF committee voted unanimously to run in its entirety. This very personal nostalgic narrative chronicles a time gone by and includes his noteworthy accomplishments, observations and unique perspective on sports and journalism in Brevard County in the 20th century.

STEVE VAUGHN: “My first sports hero was not an athlete, but a writer. Furman Bisher (above) became a legendary columnist for the Atlanta Journal. I’d look forward to afternoons when the paper would be tossed on our driveway. I’d immediately find the sports section. (GeorgiaEncyclopedia.org image)

By Steve Vaughn, 2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Inductee

My affection for sports and journalism began as a kid in Atlanta before my father went to work at the Cape and moved us to Cocoa Beach.

My first sports hero was not an athlete, but a writer. Furman Bisher became a legendary columnist for the Atlanta Journal. I’d look forward to afternoons when the paper would be tossed on our driveway. I’d immediately find the sports section.

We neighborhood kids were big fans of the Atlanta Crackers of the Class AA Southern Association.

The Crackers became known as the “Yankees of the South.” The home-town star was left-handed, home run-crushing Bob Montag, of course, number seven. As the seasons went by, we kids figured we’d lose Montag to the majors.

It never happened. None of us knew why until, one day, Bisher explained Montag in an eloquent one-sentence paragraph: “His arm would not throw.”

Montag probably could have become a fine designed hitter in today’s game. But I’ve never forgotten Bisher’s powerful line. I wanted to be Bisher. And now we lived in Cocoa Beach, 1956.

Steve Vaughn, above in 1961, began his journalism career as a sophomore at Cocoa High School in 1959 where he served the next three years as the sports editor for the Tiger Topics student newspaper and the TIGER school yearbook. During that time, Vaughn wrote also sports columns for the Cocoa Tribune and the Orlando Sentinel Brevard edition, covering high school sports. (Image for Space Coast Daily)

Hard to imagine, but back then Brevard had home delivery of four newspapers: The morning Orlando Sentinel, the afternoon Orlando Evening Star, The Cocoa Tribune and The Miami Herald. I became that kid on the bike pitching the Evening Star on driveways at the beach.

There was a tight schedule, papers having been printed earlier each day in Orlando. All were supposed to be delivered by a certain hour. But I couldn’t help it: After receiving my bundle of 60 there was no resisting spending the first ten minutes or so checking out the sports section. Priorities.

A year later we moved to Cocoa. At Provost Park, the Cocoa Indians of the Class D Florida State League were not the Atlanta Crackers, but there were benefits. I was designated an official foul ball chaser. And kids could hang around players, one of whom was a guy named Felipe Alou.

Everyone knew he was going to be a superstar. Afternoons before games, some of us would compete against those guys, pitching pennies. You stood outside the dugout and tossed your penny toward the back wall. Closest to the wall, won. I rarely defeated Alou. Even pitching pennies, the man had game.

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You remember little things about ballparks. On the Provost scoreboard behind the right field fence (305 down the line), the numbers were so small that from the grandstand a fan had to squint to make them out.

The showers had wood-burning water heaters. A slow-moving old man named John was in charge of the field and the heaters. I can see him today, sloooowly headed from one locker to the other, wood in hand.

John seemed maybe 90 years old. I wish I had known enough then to write a story about him. But forward to 1960, when Hurricane Donna came through, toppling the scoreboard and fence. The rest of the park was spared. Good old Provost.

Two years later I’d find myself back on that same field, an outfielder for the Cocoa High Tigers. And three years after that, back again as an outfielder for the school later to be named Eastern Florida State College.

But by now it dawned on me that I could write better than hit baseballs. A newspaper job came along that paid actual money, though not much. I was a Brevard sports correspondent for the Orlando Sentinel and proud of it. Maybe I could be Bisher after all.

They say you can’t go home again. But I graduated from the University of Florida’s excellent journalism program and had been editor of the student newspaper, The Florida Alligator.

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The Cocoa Tribune needed a sports editor. We tried to cover everything that moved. Little League? Softball leagues? High school sports? Box scores! League statistics! Bowling? Fishing? Golf? No problem! One of our writers was a local guy named Dave Larimer who went on to have a fine career with Florida Today.

Houston Astros manager Luman Harris with coaches Clint Courtney, Jim Busby, Jimmy Adair and Howie Pollet in 1963 during spring training in Cocoa, Florida. (Image for Space Coast Daily)

Soon a new Cocoa team, the Astros, a Houston farm team, was playing in a new stadium out on west on State Road 520.

After a home game against Sarasota, my job was to call the Sarasota paper with game info and dictate a box score. This usually took about 15 minutes but on this night the Sarasota sports guy was busy.

He put on some girl who didn’t work in sports but was available. What should have taken 15 minutes took about 45. This girl didn’t know a hit from a strikeout. But she was good-natured about it and I liked her spirit.

I made up a fun little certificate naming her the slowest baseball box score taker of all time, with all rights and privileges. We talked again later. And well, again. Now we’ve been married 53 years, have two grown children and five grandchildren. I don’t remember who won the game.

This was about the time Gannett moved in, forever changing the Brevard newspaper business. I graduated, I guess you might call it, to the Florida Today staff. I’d eventually leave town to run the Orlando Sentinel sports department (Hey! It was a $20 a week raise!) and then on to other kinds of newspaper jobs during 25 years there.

That old grandstand at Provost Park may be gone but on occasional trips back I’ll drive past, thinking of my Brevard days and being glad my father moved us down.

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STEVE VAUGHN TIMELINE

1956: Created neighborhood ballfield on vacant lots at the intersection of Woodland and Third, Cocoa Beach. Newspaper boy on a bike, Orlando Evening Star.

1957: Foul ball retriever, Florida State League Cocoa Indians at Provost Park.

1959-1961: Cocoa High baseball – great fielder, average hitter.

1962-63: Brevard Junior College baseball – great fielder, occasional hitter. Sports correspondent, Orlando Sentinel.

1964-65: University of Florida: Florida Alligator student newspaper, sports editor and then editor.

1966-1967: Sports editor, The Cocoa Tribune; Sunday magazine editor, Florida Today. Leading hitter, Cocoa First Baptist softball team, 1966.

1968-1992. The Orlando Sentinel: Executive sports editor, managing editor, executive editor. President, Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, 1982. Declared member of Brevard Community College Hall of Fame.

1993-2020: Photographer and artist. Multi-year exhibitor in Melbourne and Cocoa Beach art festivals.

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THE 2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony rescheduled date will be announced in June.

FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME, call 321-323-4460 or 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com

CLICK HERE TO SEE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME

The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame is located in the main athletic building on the Melbourne Campus of Eastern Florida State College. Portraits and biographies of the Hall of Famers are displayed on the wall in the building’s main hallway that runs parallel to the gym and outside the athletic department offices. Memorabilia items and related sports artifacts will be added to the display over time.

The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame selection committee announced an impressive array of outstanding individuals to be inducted into the 2020 Class of the Hall of Fame.

The 2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Sports Awards will be held Friday, May 8 at the Cocoa Beach Country Club.

The festivities include a meet and greet with the area’s sports royalty beginning at 6 p.m., and the dinner and induction proceeding will start at 6:45 p.m. and includes compelling video tributes of each of the inductees.

The 2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction event, and the 2020 High School Breakfast of Champions recognition awards, are sponsored by Health First, Erdman Automotive, All Points, Clear Choice Health Care, Savings Safari, Friday Night Locker Room and Rock Paper Simple.

The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame includes an impressive array of outstanding individuals to be inducted into the 2020 Class of the Hall of Fame.

Dozens of nominees were considered in four categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur sports.

Special honorary recognition will also be bestowed upon individuals and teams that have made significant contributions to sports on the Space Coast.

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Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 and has so far inducted more than 160 of Brevard County’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.

Serving on the committee are Space Coast Daily President & Publisher Tom Palermo, Vice President Giles Malone, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, Managing Editor Zach Clark, the Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson and Orville Susong, former Health First COO Larry Garrison and Amateur Athletic Union Vice President Rusty Buchanan.

“The list of inductees for 2020 induction include athletes and coaches everybody knows – and some that may have been forgotten with the passing of time,” said Tom Palermo.

FOR INFORMATION about the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame, or to make a reservation, e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com or call 321-615-8111.

SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Tim Wakefield talks about his induction into the first class of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.

SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2020

• PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Jamel Dean, Football; Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Wrestling; Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Football; Mark Lake, Skateboarding; Juwaan Taylor, Football

• COLLEGE CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Derek Hamm, Football; Paulette King, Basketball; Dylan Lewis, Soccer; Melanie Murphy, Softball

• PREP CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Lexy Denaburg, Volleyball; Apryl Bigham Nickson, Swimming; Andi Sellers, Soccer

• AMATEUR/RECREATION CATEGORY INDUCTEE: Peter Blount, Track & Field; Karina Villegas, Sled Hockey; Caylor Williams, Wrestling

• COACHING CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Sean Ballard, Wrestling; Doug Butler, Cross County and Track; Aubin Goporo, Basketball; Gerald Hodgin, Football; Bill Sinclair, Softball; Don Smith, Basketball

• SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEE: Loren McClanahan

• LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT INDUCTEE: Clint Hurdle

• SPORTS OFFICIAL INDUCTEES: Ted Ruta

• SPORTS JOURNALISM INDUCTEES: Steve Vaughn

• SPORTS AMBASSADOR AWARD INDUCTEE: Congressman Bill Posey

• CHALLENGER AWARDS INDUCTEES: Brevard Special Olympics

• TEAM OF THE YEAR: 2019 Satellite High Cross Country

• LEGACY CHAMPIONS: TBA

• SPECIAL TRIBUTE: TBA

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME

CLICK HERE FOR BREVARD COUNTY NEWS

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