An Interview With SB Nation’s Rob Neyer

An interview of SABR member Rob Neyer by Eno Sarris at on May 10:

These pieces are designed to get a sense of how these writers got to where they are, so we didn’t pester Craig Calcaterra, Matthew Leach, Murray Chass or Shannon Drayer with controversial questions in previous iterations of this column. Instead, the focus is on what aspiring writers can learn from their ascension. Neyer, an inspiration to many, was gracious in giving us a little perspective on his past.

Eno Sarris: Where did you grow up? And go to school? Did you always love baseball? Did you play it?

Rob Neyer: I grew up in the Midwest, first in the upper part (Minnesota, North Dakota, Michigan) before moving to the Kansas City area just before my 10th birthday. I always loved the team sports, played them all and was just passable in all. I didn’t really begin to love baseball — the kind the big boys play, I mean — until we moved to Kansas City and I discovered the joys of the late-’70s Royals, who were immensely entertaining.

I went to school at the University of Kansas, which is where I discovered [SABR member] Bill James and first developed my passion for baseball’s amazingly rich history.


Eno Sarris: We’ve been asking if that first job you held has any influence over your current writing, but I guess I’d be surprised if you’ve been using roofing metaphors that I’ve missed all this time. Instead, what was it like working with Bill James? Were there some discoveries that cemented your love of baseball going forward? Was there a particular story, either from baseball, or working with James, that was significant in your development as a writer?

Rob Neyer: What was it like working for Bill James? Well, it was humbling. Bill’s two little fingers contain more intellect than my whole head. And it’s not really a close competition. It’s not easy working for someone who you know, down deep, spends much of the time frustrated with your inferior intellect.

Or maybe that’s just my low self-esteem showing. I don’t know. It was definitely humbling, but also thrilling and I never lost sight of the fact that my dream job, literally, had been to work for Bill James, and there I was actually doing it.

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Originally published: May 10, 2011. Last Updated: May 10, 2011.