Cover image for A sportswriter's life : from the desk of a New York times reporter
A sportswriter's life : from the desk of a New York times reporter
Eskenazi, Gerald.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Columbia : University of Missouri Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
x, 207 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
The written word -- The end of reporting as we know it -- Tricks of the trade -- Dealing with icons -- The women -- Present at the creation -- The electronic village -- The craft (or is it art?) of writing -- The press of a button -- Last call for Brooklyn -- Northern exposure -- Stories that readers only knew the half of -- Money -- On the road, from po' boys to chateaubriand -- Do-overs -- Deep ghost.
Personal Subject:
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV742.42.E75 A3 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
GV742.42.E75 A3 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In 1959, Gerald Eskenazi dropped out of City College, not for the first time, and made his way to the New York Times . That day the paper had two openings--one in news and one in sports. Eskenazi was offered either for thirty-eight dollars a week. He chose sports based on his image of the sports department as a cozier place than the news department. Forty-one years and more than eighty-four hundred stories later, New Yorkers know he made the right decision.

When Eskenazi started reporting, sports journalism had a different look than it does today. There was a camaraderie between the reporters and the players due in part to the reporters' deference to these famous figures. Unlike today, journalists stayed out of the locker rooms, and didn't ask questions about the players' home lives or their feelings about matters other than the sports that they played. In A Sportswriter's Life , Eskenazi details how much sports and America have changed since then. His anecdotes regarding famous and infamous sports figures from baseball great Joe DiMaggio to boxer Mike Tyson illustrate the transformation that American culture and journalism have undergone in the past fifty years. Eskenazi gives a behind-the-scenes look into the journalistic techniques that go into crafting a story, as well as the pitfalls reporters fall into. There are cautionary tales of journalistic excess, as well as moments of triumph such as the time Eskenazi got Joe Namath to open up to him by admitting he was a sportswriter who knew nothing about football. Along the way, Eskenazi discusses interviewing other reluctant subjects and writing under the intense pressure of a deadline. A Sportswriter's Life is a revealing look at the people and events that were part of the history of sports from a perspective usually unavailable to the public. Eskenazi's inside stories of sports are not always flattering, but they are always amusing, touching, and revealing. This entertaining volume will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in reporting, sports, or just a good story.

Author Notes

Gerald Eskenazi has written sports for the New York Times for almost half a century. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including Gang Green: An Irreverent Look Behind the Scenes at Thirty-Eight (Well, Thirty-Seven) Seasons of New York Jets Football Futility and The Lip: A Biography of Leo Durocher.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Eskenazi spent more than 40 years at the Times, covering everyone of note in the sports world from baseball's legendary Casey Stengel to football's Broadway Joe Namath to boxing's reigning bad boy, Mike Tyson. This compulsively readable memoir is filled with a who's who of sports anecdotes, more than a little insight into what makes a good interview, and a running commentary on the changing nature of journalism in the shadow of 24/7 cable news. The author's love affair with bylines began with his elementary-school paper and became a vocation in 1959 when he parlayed the editor's position on the New York University paper into a copy boy position at the Times. If Eskenazi has a lesson for cub reporters among the anecdotes, it's to never let one's ego overshadow the subject and never pretend to be an expert. Eskenazi was never a journalism superstar like Dick Schaap or Jim Murray, but he was always a solid professional who delivered the goods. This memoir is one more example of that admirable standard. --Wes Lukowsky Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

After a number of journalism recollections have hit it big, along comes this wistful barbershop memoir from one of the country's longest-running sportswriters. Eskenazi, a retired New York Times reporter whose name readers of the paper will associate with hockey, soccer, boxing and the New York Jets, takes readers through his 40-year career at the newspaper, beginning with his days as a college-dropout copyboy (long before the Times even had a stand-alone sports section) to his retirement in 2000. Two-parts reminiscence, one-part journalism manual, the book is filled with colorful anecdotes that he often uses to illustrate a larger point. He talks revealingly, for instance, about how an interviewing technique yielded Muhammad Ali's IQ and how he buttered up ego-driven stars like Reggie Jackson. At times, reading Eskenazi can feel like listening to a stubbornly backward-looking grandfather; he is fond of reminding you of a time before computers ("These lucky stiffs [now in the press box] have an electric outlet at their desks") and openly questions tenets of New Journalism that have long been commonplace in sports sections, with statements like "there was a certain solidity to what we in the business call the inverted pyramid." But he balances that with an insider's view and a knack for storytelling. He will also occasionally offer an argument (his riff on how today's sportswriters get hysterically caught up in the controversy of the moment only to forget it the next day is particularly dead-on), making this not only an evocation of a time gone by but a document of how reporting in this country has changed. Aided by Eskenazi's low-key sense of humor, the book feels like a day in a bar next to a garrulous and unexpectedly absorbing companion-warm, informative and likable. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Eskenazi (Gang Green) recounts the more than 40 years he spent reporting on sports, from darts to the Super Bowl, for the New York Times. Other, perhaps better known, longtime reporters (Dick Schaap and Leonard Koppett come to mind) have weighed in on the subject of the sportswriting life in recent years, but Eskenazi's book establishes a firm place in the literature. Like Schaap and Koppett, he shares anecdotes about the figures, famous and not so famous, he has covered and laments that there is much less opportunity to rub shoulders with them than a half century ago. Eskenazi also devotes valuable time to the subject of journalism- the art of the interview, the crafting of the story, the ethical conflicts journalists often face, and the editorial rules that often constrain them (to eliminate the possibility of a catastrophic typo, the staid Times early in his career strongly urged reporters covering hockey to avoid the word puck). This is a worthwhile read for both the sports fan and the budding newspaper writer. Recommended for medium to large public libraries.-Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
1. The Written Wordp. 1
2. The End of Reporting as We Know Itp. 17
3. Tricks of the Tradep. 34
4. Dealing with Iconsp. 45
5. The Womenp. 56
6. Present at the Creationp. 67
7. The Electronic Villagep. 80
8. The Craft (Or Is it Art?) of Writingp. 88
9. The Press of a Buttonp. 109
10. Last Call for Brooklynp. 131
11. Northern Exposurep. 143
12. Stories that Readers Only Knew the Half Ofp. 151
13. Moneyp. 169
14. On the Road, from Po' Boys to Chateaubriandp. 175
15. Do-Oversp. 192
16. Deep Ghostp. 199