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.