Last week, I wrote a column for Poynter on Tom Gage, who was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame the same year the Detroit News took him off the Tigers beat.
During our conversation, Gage mentioned he was nervous about the speech he had to give Saturday during the induction ceremonies at Cooperstown. He noted he was a writer, not a speaker.
Deadline Detroit has excerpts from Gage’s speech. The writer did a terrific job.
(Who) am I?
Well, if you’ve loved baseball all your life, I am you.
If your first memory of watching TV is a baseball game, I am you.
If you couldn’t wait for the first day each spring that the new baseball cards were out, once again, I am you.
I’m an adult version of a kid who wrote game stories after playing All-Star Baseball, a wonderful game of spinners and discs, for hours on the floor of my bedroom. My dog ate a player one day – I mean he ate half his disc – it was Gus Zernial of the old Kansas City A’s – so as a kid I even wrote a story about the disabled list.
And the first manager I covered after I got on the beat full-time — kindly, but less than loquacious Les Moss — answered the first three questions I asked of him by saying “you never know” to all three.
About that time, I was thinking to myself: “This is not going to be an easy beat.”
It wasn’t — and that holds true even now. Baseball is not an easy beat. You miss weddings, you miss funerals, you miss birthdays. I say my son is 29 going on 18 because of all the birthdays I missed.
But I loved the beat. I couldn’t have done it for as long as I did, with all those deadlines, if I hadn’t.
I loved it because every game is different. There is always a nuance to write about, something that makes each game unique. You just have to recognize it.
And I loved it for the individuals of the game. There are great players who are great people — too many to mention. But one I absolutely have to is Alan Trammell, one of the most admirable individuals I’ve ever met in baseball.
I liked self-effacing players the most. I also liked players with humor. Still do.