May 7, 2011 at 4:55 PM | Posted in Golf | 8 Comments
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Seve Ballesteros is dead but oh how he lived.

Putting on the Green Jacket

I wish that Red Smith or Herbert Warren Wind were alive to write the farewell. In golf, our heroes are in place when a new comet flashes by and so it took me time to come to admire Seve. Of course, you could not help but appreciate him from the start. He was different as he was both a poet and a magician on the links. But most of all, he had fire, fire enough for himself and whole continents of golfers.

It was Seve who broke Tom Watson’s heart (and mine) at St. Andrews and it took me years to forgive him for that. Later, he took the Ryder Cup from our country-clubbed hands. He got under our skin but what we would have given to have him on our side.

Seve died young but he was great and who among us wouldn’t take that deal?

Red Smith on Grantland Rice

December 2, 2010 at 6:04 AM | Posted in Sports, Writers | 4 Comments
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“So now I’m doing that — it’s 5:45 AM now — and I think Granny was a saint who swore and drank and bet on horses, the kind of saint a person would love to be around with. The regularly enrolled saints I’ve read about in books would make me very nervous to have around, I think, but not Granny.”

To Absent Friends -- a desert island book

I quote from To Absent Friends from Red Smith. This is a book of reprinted columns in which Smith wrote about friends and people from the sports world. They are all either eulogies or remembrances and each one makes you wish you knew the person Smith writes about.

Here’s more Smith on Rice: “Granny was a big man in the world but nobody had to be a big man to be his friend. The elevator men at the house would not hesitate to ask him nicely would he please take out a couple of bucks and buy them daily double tickets. And they’d give him crumpled bills and the names of the horses written down and he’d stuff it in any old pocket as only Granny could do it, such a way you’d think he’d never find the money again and often enough he couldn’t but don’t think he didn’t buy the tickets anyway, because he did.”

So, who is or was Red Smith? Well, that special combination of sports fans and readers of my age know because he was the greatest sportswriter of the age say from 1954 when Grantland Rice died to his own death in 1983. Some would say he was the greatest of them all — in the States at least.

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