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Greatest Sportswriter of All-Time (1 Viewer)

Yogibear

Footballguy
When I was growing up, I had this goal of being a sportswriter.  And the person behind my inspiration was Paul Zimmerman, who was known to his readers as "Dr. Z".  He wrote for Sports Illustrated from 1979 to 2008 and covered the NFL.  He won the #### McCann Memorial Award in 1996.  Another great writer that I have a lot of respect for is Peter King.  But, anyone who has been a longtime reader of Sports Illustrated knows who these guys are.  As far as I'm concerned, Paul Zimmerman is the greatest sportswriter to ever cover the NFL.  Now, as far as the NBA goes, I'd have to give the honor to Jack McCallum, who also wrote for Sports Illustrated.  I don't know how many people on this forum have ever even read a copy of Sports Illustrated since its inception in 1954, but it's hard to believe that next year, the magazine will turn 75 years old.  Who do you think is the greatest sportswriter of all time?

 
David Halberstam has written some great sports books but I think the best sportswriters needs to work a beat.

 
My favorites are local (former) Packers beat writers Cliff Christl and Bob McGinn.  I never liked Zimmerman, King or the much-revered Frank Deford. 

 
David Foster Wallace

Can only imagine how he'd write Federer today if he knew 12 years after his fabulous article that he'd still be winning majors... You know if he were alive

 
Because he couldn't write about sports without including politics.  I know there are plenty who deeply care about politics and I'm sure some of his articles inspire people out there.  I'm not one of them.  I have no interest in reading about politics in my sports, or talking politics with anyone.  It divides our culture and splinters relationships.

 
George Plimpton is in the same category as Eephus's Halberstam. Paper Lion is a great book, IMHO. His Sidd Finch article in SI might have been the greatest April Fool's Day ever perpetrated in sports.  
30 For 30 did a great half-hour about Sidd Finch.  The first segment played out as if Finch was a real prospect, and then the second half talked through the hoax, how it happened, getting the Mets on board, did SI really want to pull a stunt like this, etc.

 
30 For 30 did a great half-hour about Sidd Finch.  The first segment played out as if Finch was a real prospect, and then the second half talked through the hoax, how it happened, getting the Mets on board, did SI really want to pull a stunt like this, etc.
I'll have to see if I can get a hold of that. Thanks. I can remember the hoax, actually. A lot of Mets fans were excited.  

 
I'll have to see if I can get a hold of that. Thanks. I can remember the hoax, actually. A lot of Mets fans were excited.  
My dad and I subscribed to SI and The Sporting News when I was a kid.  The old man read the Finch article first and played along with the hoax.  He got me good.  I was riffling through TSN issues looking for coverage of Sidd Finch to see what hey thought about him.  Dad had to point to the publication date printed on the SI issue to reveal the joke.

 
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My dad and I subscribed to SI and The Sporting News when I was a kid.  The old man read the Finch article first and played along with the hoax.  He got me good; he had to point to the publication date printed on the issue to reveal the joke.
Oh, that must have been a groaner when you found out.

I think I remember my friend believing it, too. He was a little younger than I even though I wasn't that much older. Or maybe he showed me but had told me beforehand that it was an April Fool's joke. I can't quite remember. I remember that I didn't have to fall for it, regardless. 

 
The answers so far betray how much sports writing has changed since electronic media took over. As a kid & young man, there were a lot of pretty damned necessary things i'd have given up before my subscriptions to SI & Sport & TSN. As a result, DeFord & Schaap & Roger Kahn were possibly more important to me than Boomer, Olbermann, Scott at one time. I adored Roger Angell's sense of events, Peter Gammons as the Sox beat reporter and fellow stats lover, enjoyed how Lupica made a thing of daily drama & rumoring and would say Bob Ryan is the best all-around sportswriter of the Electronic Age. Oddly, i never had that much of a taste for longform sportswriting

 
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Oh, that must have been a groaner when you found out.

I think I remember my friend believing it, too. He was a little younger than I even though I wasn't that much older. Or maybe he showed me but had told me beforehand that it was an April Fool's joke. I can't quite remember. I remember that I didn't have to fall for it, regardless. 
It stung.  But it was a positive experience overall.  The next year my English class read a selection from Paper Lion as an example of first-person narrative, and the combo of that plus knowing the author is the Sidd Finch guy got me to borrow my dad’s copy of Paper Lion and read the whole thing.  

 
The answers so far betray how much sports writing has changed since electronic media took over. As a kid & young man, there were a lot of pretty damned necessary things i'd have given up before my subscriptions to SI & Sport & TSN. As a result, DeFord & Schaap & Roger Kahn were possibly more important to me than Boomer, Olbermann, Scott at one time. I adored Roger Angell's sense of events, Peter Gammons as the Sox beat reporter and fellow stats lover, enjoyed how Lupica made a thing of daily drama & rumoring and would say Bob Ryan is the best all-around sportswriter of the Electronic Age. Oddly, i never had that much of a taste for longform sportswriting
The Boston Globe of the late 70s/early 80s easily had the greatest collection of sports writers all with one paper. Ray Fitzgerald, Peter Gammons, Leigh Montville, Larry Whiteside, Bob Ryan and Will McDonough.

The best of that bunch was Will McDonough in my mind. He was so wired into the NFL and his columns were always great. To this day, I still have yet to read a better playoff preview than what he used to put out every year. 

 
Other than Bill Simmons?
The shame is that he CAN write great stuff. His article for ESPN back in the day about a HS basketball player that was murdered was a great piece of writing. He also wrote a column when his dog died that was really really good.

 
Jim Murray.

from wiki:

Many of his achievements include winning the NSSA's Sportswriter of the Year award an astounding 14 times (12 of those consecutively). In 1990, he won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for his 1989 columns, and the Baseball Hall of Fame awarded him the J. G. Taylor Spink Award in 1987. Cited as an influence by countless sports journalists, Murray was a fixture at the Los Angeles Timesfor over 30 years. After he won the Pulitzer in 1990, Murray modestly said he thought the prize winner should have had "to bring down a government or expose major graft or give advice to prime ministers. Correctly quoting Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda shouldn't merit a Pulitzer Prize." He was offered $1 million to join The National Sports Daily, but declined.

 
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I'm familiar with him as a short story writer, but Ring Lardner has a unique American voice. I've gone back and looked at some of his baseball writing, and it's good.

 
Jim Murray.

from wiki:

Many of his achievements include winning the NSSA's Sportswriter of the Year award an astounding 14 times (12 of those consecutively). In 1990, he won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for his 1989 columns, and the Baseball Hall of Fame awarded him the J. G. Taylor Spink Award in 1987. Cited as an influence by countless sports journalists, Murray was a fixture at the Los Angeles Timesfor over 30 years. After he won the Pulitzer in 1990, Murray modestly said he thought the prize winner should have had "to bring down a government or expose major graft or give advice to prime ministers. Correctly quoting Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda shouldn't merit a Pulitzer Prize." He was offered $1 million to join The National Sports Daily, but declined.
First name I thought of and it took way too long for him to be mentioned.

 
I'm familiar with him as a short story writer, but Ring Lardner has a unique American voice. I've gone back and looked at some of his baseball writing, and it's good.
I came in here to post this. He was my great-great uncle.  Ernest Hemingway used the pen name "Ring Larder, Jr." when he wrote for his high school newspaper. Of course, the real Jr. had a pretty interesting career as well...

 
I’m too young to have read him, but I really enjoy whenever I read something that Shirley Povich wrote back in the day. His stuff is like poetry, and he had some classic lines like “Jim Brown integrated the Redskins end zone three times today.” 

 
I came in here to post this. He was my great-great uncle.  Ernest Hemingway used the pen name "Ring Larder, Jr." when he wrote for his high school newspaper. Of course, the real Jr. had a pretty interesting career as well...
That is very, very cool. I heard of Ring Lardner for exactly that reason: Hemingway was my hero in my early 20s. Do you have any family stories to share? I gather he was a pretty fascinating guy. He was pretty close to F. Scott Fitzgerald, too.

 
Jim Murray. He was a tad before my time, but reading his books as a teen brought the older eras of sports to life.

 
Back in its heyday the Boston Globe trotted out this lineup - the Sunday Globe sports page was a must read 

Wil McDonough football

Peter Gammons baseball

Jackie MacMullen basketball

Kevin Paul DuPont hockey

Bud Collins tennis

 
Only Dallas area guys will know this one but Blackie Sherrod was must read material for me from the time I read the Sports Page in elementary school until the day he retired when I was a new dad.  

Peter King is great.  Albert Breer is ok.  Stewart Mandel and Bruce Feldman are awesome for college foots. 

 
Because King has had the audacity to speak out against Trump, editorialzie the ridiculous anthem BS and had the nerve to write about his support and love for his gay daughter and her marriage to another woman.  

There isn't s better comprehensive NFL writer with the kind of access and knowledge depth out there today than Peter King.  Tell me somebody better who delivers content on all 32 teams each week at the same time with the same sort of journalistic integrity and reliability than King?  FOR FREE!  

 

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