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Cleveland photojournalist Tony Tomsic was one of only five journalists to cover the first 48 Super Bowls

Cleveland photojournalist Tony Tomsic was one of only five journalists to cover the first 48 Super Bowls

04/22/2019
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Tony Tomsic, one of the country’s most notable and renown sports photographers, passed away on Sunday at the age of 83.

Tomsic, who shot for many years with Sports Illustrated, was a legend in many ways. He attended and photographed 49 Super Bowls, which included the first 48. That streak was made into a documentary by ESPN films “Keepers of the Streak” which focused on the story of Tomsic and his fellow photographers, John Beiver, Walter Ioos, and Mickey Palmer.

He photographed Bart Starr leading the Green Bay Packers to the first-ever Super Bowl title all the way to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos celebrating the 50th rendition of the big game.

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Photo of Tony Tomsic and Mickey Palmer

Tony was a true friend to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not only did he serve as a judge for the Hall of Fame Annual Photo Contest for more than three decades, but he donated thousands of his priceless photographs to the museum. Many of his great works are still exhibited in the Hall of Fame today.

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“We are deeply saddened about the passing of Tony Tomsic,” commented Saleem Choudhry, Vice President of Museum/Exhibit Services at the Hall of Fame. “Tony’s contributions to the game of football are immeasurable. His legendary skill, character, and friendship will forever be preserved in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

Tony’s career started at the Cleveland Press in 1955 before joining Sports Illustrated in 1981. With a camera in his hands, Tomsic made magic, and his skills extended beyond football to other sports as well as the general news front.

Over the years, the photographer developed close relationships with Hall of Famer Jim Brown and Cleveland Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel, along with the likes of Ted Williams, Art Modell, Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and Muhammad Ali.

The longtime Rocky River resident and  Cleveland Press Club Hall of Fame inductee never really retired. His specialty was sports, but Tomsic’s versatility enabled him to produce award-winning photographs in almost any situation. When the Press needed a front-page photograph, they would send Tomsic, knowing he would return with the perfect shot.

Beyond photography, he was something much more - a devoted and loving husband, father and friend, a beloved bear of a man with a gruff exterior that masked a gentle soul.

Tomsic is survived by his wife of 59 years, Betsy, two daughters, Tami Tomsic, a senior project manager for the Seattle Mariners, and Tali Tomsic, an attorney in Boston, and two granddaughters.

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