Category Archives: Red Sox

Ted Williams and his feud with baseball writers

By Christopher B. Daly

The Boston Globe is running a series of excerpts from a new book about Ted Williams, written by Ben Bradlee Jr., a former Globe editor and son of the great Washington Post editor. Today’s installment focuses on Ted’s testy relationship with the press corps, particularly the large gang of baseball writers who worked for the Boston dailies in the 1940s and 50s. Fun fact: Boston had nine daily newspapers back then, with separate sports staffs. Here’s the line-up:

Between 1939 and 1960, the years spanning Ted’s career with the Red Sox, Boston had eight major newspapers, or nine if one counted both the morning and evening editions of The Boston Globe, which had separate staffs and circulations. The morning papers were the Post, the Herald, the Record, the Daily Globe and the Christian Science Monitor. The evening journals were the American, the Transcript, the Traveler, and the Evening Globe. The Post and the Record dominated the city in 1940 with circulations of 369,000 and 329,000 respectively.

Here’s an excerpt from the excerpt:

In the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, major league baseball was by far the dominant sport in the country, and would often take up a third of the front page of newspapers in Boston, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. To be a baseball writer assigned to cover one of the big league teams was a highly prized assignment.

The writers wore suits. On long road trips, they’d play poker on the trains with the players and among themselves. Some great yarns came out of those trips, but in the fraternal milieu, it was understood that the stories would stay in-house, never to turn up in print.

On average, the writers were a generation-or-more older than the players they covered. Before World War II, the vast majority had not gone to college, and in the ’40s, their salaries ranged between $5,000 and $7,000 a year. But you couldn’t beat the perks. In what seems a quaint anachronism today, it was common practice at least into the ’60s for the ball clubs to pay all the expenses of the writers when the teams traveled. The reporters would stay at the best hotels, order from room service, and eat at fine restaurants. Moreover, they spent six weeks in Florida for Spring Training on the teams’ tab as well. In return for such largesse, the clubs of course expected, even demanded, favorable coverage, and they received it. On the rare occasions they did not, the teams would not hesitate to assert their economic leverage over the papers.

Does any sportswriter still wear a suit? (or a fedora?)

Ted Williams surrounded by the gentlemen of the press.  (via Boston Globe)

Ted Williams surrounded by the gentlemen of the press.
(via Boston Globe)

 

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Who owns the Boston Globe? John Henry does.

By Christopher B. Daly 

No surprise: the deal announced last summer has finally closed. The NYT Co. has sold the Boston Globe (and a bundle of other New England news properties) to the wealthy investor John Henry. The price was $70 million, or 6.3% of the $1.1 billion that the New York Times paid for the Globe 20 years ago.

Henry, who made a fortune in commodity trading, already owns several important sports ventures –

imgresnotably the hometown MLB franchise, the Boston Red Sox. (How the Globe sports department will cover the Sox remains a touchy, unresolved issue that will not go away.)

Henry also owns the Liverpool Football Club, which is ranked third in the English Premier League of the sport we commonly call soccer. Here’s a page of links to Henry-related stories from the British newspaperGooglepluscrest The Guardian. Here’s the comparable page from the Liverpool Echo, consisting mainly of sports stories that say little about Henry.

The reason that I am searching British media for information about Henry is that he is rarely written about here. Although he has been one of the principal owners of the Boston Red Sox for years now, he is still pretty much of an enigma. He shows up in photos at the occasional charity or celebrity event, and his courtship and marriage of Linda Pizzutti (who hails from my hometown — Medford, Mass.) in 2009 produced a portfolio of rather icky photos.

Boston magazine has attempted to cover Henry, and I hope they continue to do so.

The question that awaits an answer is: how will the Globe cover its new owner? This is an inherently awkward (and possibly impossible) assignment for any news organization, since readers will always have to wonder whether any punches were pulled. To report fully and write honestly about the person who signs your paycheck is hard enough; to convince people that you are really telling the whole story means somehow overcoming the apparent conflict of interest involved. It will be a test of the Globe’s independence and its credibility as a journalistic enterprise if it even attempts to cover the new owner.

As for Henry, much remains to be seen. Here are some questions I have:

Will he be an engaged owner?

Will he keep the valuable Brian McGrory as top editor?

Will he endorse political candidates?

Will he stand by the paper’s metered pay system for online access?

Will he order up expanded coverage of English soccer?

Will he tolerate critical coverage of the Red Sox?

Will he sell the land and buildings at Morrissey Boulevard?

Will he sell the printing presses and trucks and take the Globe into a post-print future?

In this photo, what time is it? After sundown, or pre-dawn?

In this photo, what time is it? After sundown, or pre-dawn?

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More on Red Sox

By Chris Daly 

Whatever you may think of Keith Olbermann as a cable-TV political journalist, the fact is that his background as a sportswriter supplied him with the ability to critically dissect a sports story. That is just what he has done in his blog about baseball, commenting on a major take-out in the Boston Globe that ran on Wednesday on page 1. The Globe story, by Bob Hohler, found plenty of  causes of death in his post-mortem on the 2011 season.

If you are wondering about the sourcing for the Globe story, I think Olbermann is on the right track by raising the question: Who benefits?

Keith and Terry in better times, 2007. (Photo by Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers)

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Not to be missed

An intelligent discussion of sources (in baseball) brought to us by the good folks at Grantland.

 

 

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Epic Red Sox Fold (vol. 5)

By Chris Daly

 

Vanity. All is vanity.

Amid the wreckage, a few useful nodes:

–The great Nate Silver, master of mathematical metrics, is reduced on this day to invoking terms like “karma.” In his incomparable 538 blog for the NYTimes, Silver also helpfully supplies several priceless videos, along with his customary formulae and charts.

 

 

 

–In the search for “the other side,” I took advantage of the miracle known as the Internet to visit the webpage of the St. Petersburg Times. (This is a much-praised newspaper, but, man, they have one ugly homepage.) I pressed on to find their coverage of last night’s amazing events. I found one of their big-name columnists, John Romano, who offered this nugget:

• • •

Here’s one that will impress the guy on the next barstool:

You may know that Robert Andino’s game-winning hit in Baltimore preceded Longoria’s blast by only a few minutes. And you may know that Andino’s line drive single went in and out of the glove of a sliding Carl Crawford in leftfield. And you certainly know Longoria’s walkoff homer went slicing down the leftfield line at Tropicana.

But did you know the reason Longoria’s shot had a chance to leave the park was because the Rays lowered the wall in the leftfield corner from nine feet to five feet in 2007?

They did it to give Crawford a chance to make home run-robbing catches.

• • •

As I pondered this item, I wondered how we are supposed to interpret it. Is it a poignant coincidence, a la Ken Burns?

Or was the action taken in 2007 on the order of  a real plot twist that made all the rest happen, a la O. Henry?

 

 

 

 

–I also could not help but notice that on this day of gloom, it is grey and drizzly here in Boston. So, in the great tradition of over-intellectualizing about the Red Sox, I thought this would be a good time to brush up on the pathetic fallacy as we reflect on such Big Ideas as causality and fate.

Turns out, most people outside New England don’t care — and nature doesn’t care either. Cruel world, eh? (But then, isn’t that the purpose of the Red Sox — to remind us of that fact periodically?)

 

 

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Red Sox

by Chris Daly

A moment of silence, please, for the 2010 Red Sox season.

. . . . .

Thank you.

One final thought: given the number of injuries he had to deal with (and the resulting continual shifts in the lineup), I say Terry Francona deserves consideration as Manager of the Year. With a stable, healthy roster ….

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