It wasn’t just the caliber of his work, which of course was high. It was that he had the courage to stand up and say, “They’re lying. This is the truth,” and back it up with so much evidence that he could not be ignored. Doug had a permanent effect on the way baseball’s off-field issues are covered. He made it right–no, he made it mandatory–to question the claims of baseball’s authorities, and he did it in the face of opposition from some powerful people. When called on the carpet by Bud Selig, Doug calmly presented the facts and refused to be intimidated.
Pappas provided a moral context for journalists to follow, and was not shy about holding them to it. What he understood was that if baseball is really the American game, the way in which it is run and the way in which it is covered tell us a great deal about our national character.
Baseball deserves not to be treated as a mere diversion or pastime, but to be run in an honest and untainted fashion. When it is not, those of us in a position to explain how this is so have an obligation and responsibility to do so. Reminding us — writers and readers alike — of this was Doug Pappas’s legacy to the game, and it is as fine as any writer has left.