Gammons: Looking back on 50 glorious years in baseball writing

From Peter Gammons at The Athletic on June 7, 2018:

I remember awakening at 5:30 the morning of June 6, 1968, turning the radio to WBZ Boston, and hearing of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination. At first, the news was numbing, as it had been on Nov. 22, 1963, when while waiting for Geography 41 in Chapel Hill, Professor Mondale walked in and said, “President Kennedy has been shot and this class is canceled.” Or on April 4 of ’68, when a friend walked into a record store in which I worked and told me, “They killed Martin Luther King”; I dropped the “Mr. Fantasy” Traffic album I had been trying to sell and asked to go back to St. Anthony Hall.

That June morning I was thinking about growing up, and the fact that in a few days I was going to begin an internship that a mentor named Dean Smith insisted was “important, because you can be good, and you can be a voice.” So, beyond shock, and the low spark of the vacuum of my own life at the age 23, it took me hours to realize that R.F.K. seemingly was the one man who could take the thousands of pieces of the Sixties jigsaw puzzle scattered around the playroom floor, complete the puzzle, and bond the past and the hope that had frayed.

We look back today and wonder where we might be had he not been carried away on that train of murdered dreams — dreams of hope and inclusion and purpose so brilliantly captured in Thurston Clarke’s clever The Last Campaign. As much as Bobby Kennedy seemingly understood the inherent good of an America arm in arm, that understanding may well have died with him, beyond the resurrective powers of humans like his grandson Joe.

Four days later, I drove from Hingham to Dorchester to begin that summer internship at The Boston Globe. On that first morning, I met a fellow intern named Bob Ryan, and we were assigned a task. Because of one of the greatest figures in newspaper history, Tom Winship, Globe sports interns were thrown into the fire. In those days, the Globe had a morning paper and an evening paper, and the editors wanted a piece for the 3:30 late edition—which was an important paper for the thousands who rode the trains and buses home after work—that detailed what teams did and what columnists wrote about baseball’s response to the latest Kennedy murder. Bob was given the National League, I the American. We sat down at phones, were told to dial 8 for outgoing service, and went to work.

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Originally published: June 7, 2018. Last Updated: June 7, 2018.