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Full Swing: Hits, Runs and Errors in a Writer's Life

This article is more than 16 years old.

Ira Berkow's account of his various adventures is full of familiar names. They don't all belong to athletes. For example, on page 209, Berkow writes:

"I lost some of my courage when Richard Nixon invited me to go to a baseball game with him. I declined, and now I'm sorry I did. After all, I'm a reporter. If there is an interesting person in the news, good or bad, it's to your benefit, and perhaps to your readers', to know as much about him or her as possible."This is a thought-provoking contention. If Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney call to invite me to come down and see D.C. United play, do I have to go? What if they've already lined up Ann Coulter? What if Charlie Manson will be there, too? How bad does it have to get before even a reporter can say no?

Berkow's account of his youth and various adventures in the sportswriting dodge is easy to take. Among my favorite of his contentions is that pro athletes are more likely to be polite to sportswriters if they've been brought up well. This is a lovely idea because it takes our whacky culture off the hook. If the athletes who are slobs and worse behave that way because their parents never taught them manners, then it's not our fault for having encouraged those athletes to feel entitled since they first demonstrated they could excel at hitting, running, shooting, or dribbling when they were about eight years old.


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