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

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


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.


Sometime back in the 1950s—probably in my second year at City College of New York, the school we proud poor kids thought of as the Harvard of the Proletariat—journalism turned into something beautiful to me.

Perhaps it was seeing my name in the school paper; perhaps it was learning about the exquisite torture of fitting a headline into its assigned space, or about the symmetry of layout. Somehow, despite our studies, despite the hours spent traveling to Brooklyn to a printer in Williamsburg under the rattling elevated train, the paper always came out twice a week, and it came out loud.

My romance with writing for newspapers began in the sixth grade, when I saw my name over a story in the class newsletter. That first byline leaped from the page, for it proclaimed that what followed below was official. I was an avid newspaper reader by then, and with this byline I had joined a fraternity of truth-tellers. People would read me to understand something. It was a wonderful responsibility.

By the time I got to college, I had accumulated a few journalistic notches, albeit on the high school paper with its twice-a-month feverish activity. But in college I suddenly joined a newspaper that was an endeavor, a shared, unpredictable, bumpy ride. Journalism consumed me.

Every day on the A train that took me from the streets of East New York, Brooklyn, all the way up to school in Harlem, forty-eight minutes . . .

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