JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

A sad moment in sports journalism

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Found out today that Hal McCoy, the Dayton Daily News‘ Reds’ beat writer for the past 37 (yes, 37) years will no longer cover the team after this season.

A sad day, it is.

Besides being a Hall of Famer and the dean of baseball scribes, Hal has been, for the past six or seven years, legally blind (yes, legally blind). But nobody would know it from his work. Hal’s a tremendous writer—the perfect merging of insight into the ballplayer psyche and intelligence about the game.  He was never a me-me-me journalist—had no interest in becoming  “a personality” or winding up screaming  at Mike Lupica on ESPN. No, Hal simply loved the gig.

More important, he is a great man. Back when I was covering baseball for Sports Illustrated, there were a fair number of beat writers who would have nothing to do with a mid-20s magazine punk coming into town for this or that. I’d be ignored, mocked, etc. But Hal was always pure class. Through this past February, I always looked forward to seeing him at spring training and—if I were lucky–meeting him for breakfast at a small dive across the street from the club’s Sarasota facility. The man never ran out of joy and glee and appreciation. He loved covering the game. Hell, he loved the game. Just loved it.

Damn. Breaks my heart. F—ing newspapers …