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Sportswriter's Life: From the Desk of a New York Times Reporter
     

Sportswriter's Life: From the Desk of a New York Times Reporter

by Gerald Eskenazi
 

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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.

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

From the glory days of Joe Namath, to the Rangers' quest for a Stanley Cup, to the whacky world of boxing, Jerry Eskenazi has captured these wonderful moments. It's a great read by a premier reporter."--Marv Albert, voice of the New York Knicks and NBA on TNT

Jerry Eskenazi is a consummate professional--an honest and honorable man in a field where those elements are too often overlooked. He has never forgotten the importance of having a sense of fairness, a sense of humor, and a genuine passion for his profession. Jerry always understood that it is the games, and the athletes who compete, that make people want to read the sports page. He has earned an elite level of trust from his readers and the sports figures he covers, because he writes what he sees. He knows what he's doing, and he prepares for each assignment in a way that displays his appreciation and respect for athletic competition and the personalities involved."--Bill Parcells, Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys

"During the years when Jerry was covering boxing, I found him to be insightful, knowledgeable, and at all times--fair. His coverage of the events and the sports was a credit to the fans, the boxers and his newspaper, the New York Times. Only the news that was fit to print' was the slogan, and Jerry certainly had a lot printed. His main beats were boxing and football, but he could cover any beat with honesty and integrity. The boxers always knew if they gave Jerry an interview, the words didn't get twisted and neither did mine. Thanks Jerry for so many dedicated years to your profession. I can't wait to read these memoirs."--Don King, President & CEO, Don King Productions, Inc.

The New York Times
Eskenazi reflects upon his 41-year career at the newspaper and analyzes the changing nature of sports journalism. He also gives entertaining glimpses of sports luminaries like Muhammad Ali, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays and Joe Namath, to whom Eskenazi endeared himself when he confessed he didn't know a thing about football. — Carolyn T. Hughes
Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
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 Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780826215109
Publisher:
University of Missouri Press
Publication date:
03/28/2004
Series:
SPORTS and AMERICAN CULTURE Series
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

What People are Saying About This

Bill Parcells
Jerry Eskenazi is a consummate professional-an honest and honorable man in a field where those elements are too often overlooked. He has never forgotten the importance of having a sense of fairness, a sense of humor, and a genuine passion for his profession. Jerry always understood that it is the games, and the athletes who compete, that make people want to read the sports page. He has earned an elite level of trust from his readers and the sports figures he covers, because he writes what he sees. He knows what he's doing, and he prepares for each assignment in a way that displays his appreciation and respect for athletic competition and the personalities involved. (Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys )
Marv Albert
From the glory days of Joe Namath, to the Rangers' quest for a Stanley Cup, to the whacky world of boxing, Jerry Eskenazi has captured these wonderful moments. It's a great read by a premier reporter. (Voice of the New York Knicks and NBA on TNT)

Meet the Author

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.

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