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Thank You Coach

Steve Meyerhoff was Executive Editor of The Sporting News from 1994 to 2004.  I worked there for a few of those years and recall him as thoughtful, curious and kind.  So I am not surprised that Meyerhoff has launched a blog called “Thank You Coach” — a showcase for personal tributes to coaches who have shaped you, me, and anybody who ever played a game.


Here’s how Meyerhoff explains it:

“For as long as I can remember, sports has been my life’s passion. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, then outside of New York City and finally in St. Louis, I played just anything that involved either a stick or a ball: baseball, hockey, golf, basketball, football and – though having neither a ball nor a stick – running.

Richard Hoffer's "Bouts of Mania"

Richard Hoffer’s “Bouts of Mania” is a lovely echo from a bygone era, when boxing and the written word co-habited in sensual ardor. It tells of the rivalry of three heavyweight champions, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and George Foreman, who fought five bouts from 1971 to 1975.  Their legend comes alive, in tone and pitch, light and dark and gray, under Hoffer’s deft touch.

To readers who followed Hoffer’s long and distinguished career at Sports Illustrated, and to those (such as myself) who remember his earlier work for the Los Angeles Times, this is no surprise. Hoffer plies his craft in the tradition of the sportswriters he admired — Red Smith, Dave Anderson, Mark Kram, Robert Lipsyte, Jim Murray, Larry Merchant, Jerry Izenberg, Hugh McIllvaney, Dave Kindred — as well as the literary lions — Norman Mailer, William Saroyan, George Plimpton, Budd Schulberg — who dropped in on the sport.smg-hoffer-Cover

Zim. r.i.p.

Farewell to Don Zimmer.

Red Sox Nation will miss him, even though he blew the 1978 pennant.

Pedro Martinez will miss him, even though he was attacked by Zim in the 2003 ALCS.

I will miss him, even though he tried to take my head off in the Sox clubhouse and had to be restrained by Vinnie Orlando. (Dennis Eckersley had given up a game-losing home run.  I asked Zim, “What did he throw?”  He said, “How should I know?”  I said, “You’re the manager.”  That did it!)

Everybody will miss Zim, because he was the curmudgeon everybody is supposed to like.

A poet, Elliot Kolker, has eulogized him in rhyming couplets:

He Saved Fenway Park

Mike Ross

Mike Ross

Red Sox Nation bids Mike Ross adieu.  For 14 years Ross served on the Boston City Council and represented District 8, which includes Fenway Park. In a literal and figurative sense, Ross was city councilor to the Nation from 2000 through 2013.

City council work is not glamorous.  Budgets, ordinances, regulations, and constituent services are the crux of it.  All of it was conditional, in Ross’ era, on “kissing the ring” of an autocratic and insecure mayor.

Ross, 43, handled it with style and grace, and more tangibly, with innovation and accomplishment.  Thanks to Ross, the city has dog parks, food trucks, recycling for apartment buildings, a revitalized Boston Common, monitoring of — and limits to — off-campus housing for students, and a contract with the firefighters union.  He was the first Jewish councilor since the early 1950s (the son of a Holocaust survivor), served a term as council president, and in 2013 fell short in the mayoral prelim.

Jay Greenberg Enshrined

Jay Greenberg was inducted into the writers’ wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame yesterday.  He made his name covering the Flyers for two Philadelphia dailies from 1975 to 1989, before moving on to the Toronto Star and New York Post.

Jay was a writer’s writer and a reporter’s reporter.  He was fastidious about facts and context, packaged in his signature voice, which combined irony, wit, compassion, and indignation.

Jay Greenberg

Jay Greenberg

I had the privilege and benefit of knowing Jay before Randy Rota and Bobby Clarke knew him.  He was a year ahead of me at the University of Missouri, covering Mizzou football and writing a column for the Columbia Missourian.   The Tigers went 1-10 in 1971, a miserable season for the faithful and especially new head coach Al Onofrio.  It was redeemed only by Jay’s coverage, which initially reflected his sense of grievance, and then progressed to humor, because eventually what could he do but laugh.  Characteristic of Jay, he was patient with Onofrio, a soft-spoken and decent man.

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