There was a time when the most prestigious job on a major newspaper belonged to the baseball beat writer, who enjoyed unparalleled longevity and influence within his profession. Through a variety of events and circumstances—television, expansion, all-sports radio, lifestyle changes, and the Internet revolution—those days are long gone. The baseball beat writers endure, but jobs change, and they have faced new challenges.
Keepers of the Game celebrates the last generation of baseball writers whose careers were rooted in Teletype machines, train travel, and ten-team leagues, and who wielded an influence and power within the game that are unimaginable today. Dennis D’Agostino brings together, for the first time, the personal histories of a group of journalists whose influence, power, and dedication to the game of baseball is part of a golden age of sports journalism that is now a thing of the past. Twenty-three vintage beat writers tell their own stories, with an individual chapter devoted to each writer. The interview subjects include nine winners of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s J. G. Taylor Spink Award, the baseball writing profession’s highest honor: Ross Newhan, Hal McCoy, Murray Chass, Peter Gammons, Bob Elliott, Rick Hummel, Tracy Ringolsby, Nick Peters, and Bill Madden.
They and their colleagues were the best of their breed, that last generation of writers who were the unquestioned gatekeepers of the national pastime. For decades, their words shaped the history of the game.
“Baseball is the perfect game described by the written word. Dennis D’Agostino renders the best examples of this.”—Tim McCarver, 2012 Ford C. Frick Award winner, Baseball Hall of Fame
“Dennis D’Agostino recalls a press box era when old and new school intersected. But it was still when a skillful game story, written on deadline, was the essence of the baseball writer’s craft. Imagine that.”—Bob Costas, NBC/MLB Network
“Dennis D’Agostino has given us a priceless insight of the inner sanctum of baseball from the writers and publicists who were privy to the great stories of this great game.”—Dick Stockton, Fox Sports/Turner Sports and 2001 Curt Gowdy Media Award Winner, Basketball Hall of Fame
"I covered the NBA for 14 years. I covered Major League baseball full time for one, keeping the Boston Globe seat warm for Peter Gammons. Covering basketball is an enjoyable job. Covering baseball is an all-encompassing lifestyle, requiring skill, dedication and stamina, both mental and physical. These great men are testimony to all that."—Bob Ryan, Boston Globe