Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I have to laugh.
For the last 13 and a half years, I've written for ESPN The Magazine, and lived pretty much in anonymity. And then last week, I started writing a column for the Star-Ledger and, suddenly, it was like I'd become an overnight celebrity.
Old friends from high school, relatives I had not spoken to in years, basically a bunch of folks I'd crossed paths with during my lifetime as Jersey Kid now felt like I'd reached the pinnacle. And let me tell you, it's a good feeling. It's good to be home.
I grew up as Ledger kid, reading the words of Moss Klein and Dan Castellano every day with my Fruit Loops. A baseball-loving kid in the 70s and 80s loved the Ledger for Moss and Dan, but also for the full AP game story and box score with every MLB game. I know times have changed and all the boxes go on one page now, but as a kid who grew up loving Robin Yount and George Brett, I loved that I could read their game stories and see their stat line without having to turn the page. The Ledger was the paper of choice for a baseball fan. It was the only paper I'd ever need until the day I left for college.
Ironically, my first job in newspapers was writing for the Daily News, covering the Yankees in 1992. I always did my best, but I don't think I was ever viewed as a great, or even good tabloid beat reporter. My interest was never so much in trying to find out what George Steinbrenner was going to say, or what players (usually asking for anonymity) wanted to say something critical. My interest was always on the field, inside the game. And at times, I know my colleagues mocked me for that.
I'd miss out on some natural tabloid angle (sources say Danny Tartabull is miffed that he's playing left field and not right field) because I was talking to a pitcher about some grip-change he'd made, or to a hitter about something he was working on in the cage, and maybe I'd have a good story for the so-called seamheads, but I'd cost the News a headline. I would be the first to admit I was not a natural on that beat.
A lot of years have past since those days, 16 to be exact, and I have landed at the Ledger with the hopes that their readers are still the same as this Jersey Kid, oh, 35-40 years ago. Folks interested in reading about the game, the players, the characters. I hope they share my love of the good baseball story, because that's what I'm going try to bring them. If a kid could fall more in love with baseball the way I fell in love with baseball... because I wrote a memorable story, that would be pretty cool. About as cool as all the attention I've been getting this week.
It's good to finally be home.