Board OKs naming Harbor's press box after Carlson

COSTA MESA — The press box at Davidson Field will soon bear the name of retired Daily Pilot sportswriter and Sports Editor Roger Carlson.

The Newport-Mesa Unified school board voted Tuesday to approve naming the box at Newport Harbor High School in Carlson’s honor. The board unanimously endorsed a recommendation by a committee of school district stakeholders.

Carlson, 74, covered the sports beat for the hometown paper for 40 years: 25 as a reporter and 15 as sports editor. He spent many a football night holed up in the press box, covering Sailors’ home games.

Roger Carlson’s age was incorrectly stated. He is 74.

“I’m overwhelmed. To have my name assigned with a Newport-Mesa school district field is something that doesn’t come around very often,” Carlson said in an interview. “I’m very honored by it, and I have a lot of people to thank.”

Carlson was officially nominated for the recognition by Rachel Perez-Hamilton, 75, a lifelong Costa Mesa resident and 1956 Harbor graduate. She often read Carlson’s work when her children attended Harbor.

 Her application was inspired by an Oct. 8 column by former Pilot columnist William Lobdell calling on the community to give Carlson the honor.

“His labor of love had a positive impact on literally tens of thousands of high school athletes who, like me, are forever grateful for having achievements from their glory days published in the Pilot,” Lobdell wrote.

Carlson, now retired, started as a freelancer for the Pilot in 1964 before being hired full time. He worked as a reporter for 25 years before being promoted to editor, a position he held for 15 years.

The district solicited community input on the nomination and held a committee meeting June 15 about the issue.

One person endorsed Carlson, and five community members wrote in to support him, said Thomas Antal, the director of secondary instruction and curriculum.

The committee gave unanimous approval to recommend Carlson to the school board, he said.

“During the entire time,” Antal told the board, “everything we uncovered was that it was his mission to highlight youngsters in this community in the newspaper.”

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