Keepers of the Game


Keepers of the Game

When the Baseball Beat was the Best Job on the Paper

Dennis D'Agostino

288 pages


February 2013


$39.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

September 2011


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About the Book

There was a time when the most prestigious job on a major newspaper belonged to the baseball beat writer, who enjoyed unparalleled longevity and influence within his profession. Through a variety of events and circumstances—television, expansion, all-sports radio, lifestyle changes, and the Internet revolution—those days are long gone. The baseball beat writers endure, but jobs change, and they have faced new challenges.

Keepers of the Game celebrates the last generation of baseball writers whose careers were rooted in Teletype machines, train travel, and ten-team leagues, and who wielded an influence and power within the game that are unimaginable today. Dennis D’Agostino brings together, for the first time, the personal histories of a group of journalists whose influence, power, and dedication to the game of baseball is part of a golden age of sports journalism that is now a thing of the past. Twenty-three vintage beat writers tell their own stories, with an individual chapter devoted to each writer. The interview subjects include nine winners of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s J. G. Taylor Spink Award, the baseball writing profession’s highest honor: Ross Newhan, Hal McCoy, Murray Chass, Peter Gammons, Bob Elliott, Rick Hummel, Tracy Ringolsby, Nick Peters, and Bill Madden.

They and their colleagues were the best of their breed, that last generation of writers who were the unquestioned gatekeepers of the national pastime. For decades, their words shaped the history of the game.

If you’re a baseball fan or someone who dreamed of being a baseball writer, this book is for you.

Author Bio

DENNIS D'AGOSTINO is the author of Garden Glory: An Oral History of the New York Knicks (2003) and coauthor of Through a Blue Lens: The Brooklyn Dodger Photographs of Barney Stein, 1939–1957 (2007). Recognized by his peers in the sports community as one of its leading historians and as an accomplished author and practitioner of the oral history process, D’Agostino has been a working colleague for more than two decades of many of the writers spotlighted in Keepers of the Game. He lives in Huntington Beach, California.

New York Times columnist Dave Anderson (1929–2018) won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for sports commentary. From 2000 through 2007, he held the coveted card number 1 as the longest-tenured active member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA).


"I covered the NBA for 14 years. I covered Major League baseball full time for one, keeping the Boston Globe seat warm for Peter Gammons. Covering basketball is an enjoyable job. Covering baseball is an all-encompassing lifestyle, requiring skill, dedication and stamina, both mental and physical. These great men are testimony to all that."

Table of Contents

In Memoriam

Foreword by Dave Anderson


1. Stan Isaacs

2. Ross Newhan

3. Joe Goddard

4. Murray Chass

5. Russell Schneider

6. Jim Henneman

7. Peter Gammons

8. Maury Allen

9. Hal McCoy

10. Hal Bock

11. Tracy Ringolsby

12. Bob Elliott

13. Phil Pepe

14. Dave van Dyck

15. Jim Ferguson

16. Nick Peters

17. Gordon Verrell

18. Bill Madden

19. Wayne Minshew

20. Stan Hochman

21. Joe Giuliotti

22. Bob Hertzel

23. Rick Hummel

Appendix: The J. G. Taylor Spink Award

About the Author

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