Many thanks to Matt Norlander and Alex Prewitt for directing me to our mysterious masked Twitter hero @BIGSPORTSWRITER's late-night Twitter tribute regarding Boston Globe columnist and Around The Horn panelist Bob Ryan's retirement from the newspaper. Due to popular demand—because all it takes, apparently, is two people asking me to do something and I go for it; that might not be the best thing, but never mind—I've compiled BSW's tweets here. Lightly edited, as always—and also as always, it's worth the read. A great reminder of what ambitious young columnists should aspire to be. Enjoy:
@BIGSPORTSWRITER's Bob Ryan Twitter Tribute
I'm going to miss Bobby Ryan. And so will sports writing.
It's not just that he was a good writer, because he was a great writer. One of the finest working basketball minds with a pen and keyboard. Has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things college and NBA basketball. I mean freakish. I mean, pick a player in history and get facts.
But I'm not going to miss him for his trivia, and I'm not going to miss him for his sense of history. When I open up the Globe—because I still get the Globe—it won't be the dashing pencilpicture in the top left corner that I pine for. Besides, he's the first to tell you—that picture ads ten pounds, and years.
I'll miss Bobby's honesty. In an era where the industry was ran by drunks—functional and dysfunctional—his honesty gleamed in the night. From a young age he was blunt about the direction of the industry, the shortcomings of the older generation, and what he wanted to be.
We came up in a due-paying system. Where the older fellas held turf, and drank and cursed, and spat in the wide-eyes of young writers. A lot of the old guys now are nostalgic about that era, because it was "their" era—but the guys before weren't looking out for us.
So when you got somebody that you trusted, that you could go to for guidance, you held on for dear life. You followed them everywhere. You annoyed the shit out of them.
Bobby had a few good editors, smart men that looked at their paper—stark and naked—and decided they didn't love it. So they pushed it in the direction of writers. Not game stories, not journalists, but writers. And words flooded out. They had Ryan, Gammons, and Lupica all in-house at one point. That is North East sportswriting. And they had it. And Bob will tell you that Gammons is the better writer, and that Mike is the better writer, and that he was lucky. But bullshit.
Bobby covered everything. He was a sponge. He wanted to know everything you'd seen, ever—and then he wanted to hear it again.
He'd interview umps to figure out how strike zones get built, and then ask them again 5 or 10 years later and see if their answers changed.
He's good, and he's honest, and he knows how much help he got along the way, which is why you could always catch Bob chatting up the local college newspaper writers. He knows what importance guidance gives.
He cold have made more money. He could have done more TV, more radio. I know for a fact he's perpetually held about 5-10 book offers. But Bob Ryan liked being a columnist, just like he liked being a beat writer. He knows more about the Celtics than any human, ever. And he liked being a local. He liked being the guy speaking on behalf of Boston sports fans.
Don't let them fool you. HE is Boston Sportswriting. RYAN is the voice of the fan from Beantown. One hundred years from now he'll have most of the best columns ever written about the C's, the Sox, the Patriots, and the Bruins.
Bobby is a sportswriters sportswriter. He can turn a phrase, turn a table, and turn a head. If I'm sitting at a table of any 4 sportswriters of my choosing, and we're drinking (or not)—I want Bob Ryan at that table. I want him to write my obituary. I want him to write my life's game story, I want him to write a column about spending a day with me. I want Bob Ryan to write a letter to my kids about what I was like, because I don't think I'll have ever sounded so good.
I just don't want him to go. I don't want Bob Ryan to retire because I'm selfish, and I'm old fashioned, and it means it's passing me too.
He lugged a typewriter like rambo, and he could unload bandolier of vowels and consonants like few people I've ever seen. His writing style wasn't cute. He didn't try to impress. He just wrote what he thought, and more often than not he was right. That's talent.
Sometimes I'd watch a game and wonder what I'd just seen. So you know what I did? I waited for Bob Ryan's column to come out. And when I just couldn't wait, I'd call him, and I'd make him read it to me over the line.
Now as soon as he finishes his thoughts, you have them at the tips of your fingers. And if you ever had to read your column line by line to the copy editors, or send it via Western Union—you know how incredible that is.
Bob Ryan, I'm gonna miss you. Reading you made me hate everything I'd written that week. Your company made me wish we could skip deadlines. And I wrote you a eulogy, because whenever one of the true greats hangs 'em up—the craft dies a little.
G--damn if Bob knew I was writing about him on twitter he'd clothesline me.
His farewell is here, and it's exactly what you'd expect it to be. http://bo.st/Pcy9HL