HARTFORD, CT, September 28, 2011 – Vincent H. Bish, Jr. ’12 is going places. One place he is not going, however, is a newsroom, despite his being named a 2011 recipient of a Jim Murray Scholarship, awarded by the foundation named for the journalist who was a long-time columnist for The Los Angeles Times and is enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bish is fairly certain that he will be heading to law school upon graduating in May. An English literature major and legal studies minor at Trinity, Bish developed a passion for the legal profession while taking a contract-writing course at Harvard a few years ago. He’s also doing an internship this semester in the office of state Attorney General George Jepsen.
Although it may seem odd that the law school-bound Bish entered and won a sports writing competition, his other passion is the written word. Thus, his gripping column about a former gang member-turned-football player captivated the foundation’s judges, making Bish one of five college students nationally to win a $5,000 Jim Murray Scholarship.
“I have a love of the law and of writing,” said Bish, of Bloomfield, CT. “Words have a real-world meaning within the context of the law. The words of the most famous laws have changed lives.”
Each year, a handful of students are selected to receive $5,000 scholarships in honor of Murray, who graduated from Trinity in 1943 and was named “America’s Best Sportswriter” 14 times by the National Association of Sportscasters & Sportswriters. Murray, who died in August 1998, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990. To date, 78 students at 28 colleges and universities have collectively received nearly $400,000 in financial aid as a result of the competition held in the sportswriter’s honor.
Born and raised in Hartford, Murray began his career in journalism at The New Haven Register after graduating from Trinity. In addition to winning a Pulitzer and being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, he wrote for Time magazine, founded and wrote for Sports Illustrated, and authored four books.
Like Murray before him, Bish is a newspaper devotee; he reads The New York Times every day, a habit that helped him to understand the qualities that constitute first-rate journalism.
“Although I never considered myself a journalist,” he said, “I understand the formula.”
Bish also studied the writings of Murray so that he could better prepare himself to write his article, “Blood on the Field.”
“It really struck me that [Murray] had a love of his subject matter and treated it like an art,” said Bish.
Bish’s column is artistically written, as he weaves the theme of religion and “a strange crucifix” throughout the tale of a young man headed for a life of crime but who managed to change direction after his brothers’ deaths in one of New Jersey’s “most gang-ridden neighborhoods.”
For Bish’s article, he interviewed Willis (a pseudonym), one of nine children raised by a single mother struggling to keep her family intact and out of trouble. Ultimately, wrote Bish, sports changed Willis’s life and he ended up at Trinity where he was a member of the football team.
“Willis is an imposing a six-foot-two, 210-pound lineman with dreads, but he’s also a clown. Though he was born wearing a warrior’s mask, laughing for him is a choice, one he makes daily, and that provides daily release from the sadness that seeks to take hold of his life,” wrote Bish.
Willis’s playing days came to an abrupt end when he suffered a catastrophic injury to his right knee during the 2010 season. Nonetheless, Willis is still a Trinity student studying engineering.
The column ends with these words: “It’s Thursday night, on the top floor of the Engineering Building at Trinity College. It’s again deserted except for Willis and Jesus. They are both hard at work.”
The son of Jamaican immigrants, Bish is a two-time winner of the F.A. Brown Prize in English and of the Frank W. Whitlock Prize in writing. He is also president of the Trinity College Gospel Choir. During the summer, Bish taught remedial math and English at Goodwin College in East Hartford.
Bish has been invited to Los Angeles later this year to accept his award.