I’m in the process of putting the final proof-reading touches on The Best Sports Writing of Pat Jordan. (The book will be released next spring.) I am the editor of the project, which, in many ways, has been like making a literary mix tape. Jordan has long been one of my favorite writers, so it has been an utter joy to read through well over one hundred of his magazine pieces from the past 40 some oddd years and select 25 cherce cuts for this collection.
I’ll have more to say about Pat and the book as the release date approaches. In the meantime, you can check out a bunch of Pat’s New York Times work, which has recently been made available via the Times on-line archive (the only piece that is there that is also in the forthcoming book is the Roger Clemens story).
Here is an excerpt from a piece Pat wrote about clubhouse harmony in spring training, 1989, when both the Mets and Yankees were dealing with “chemistry” issues. I thought you guys would get a kick out of it:
Reporters, however, take the…disturbances seriously. They wonder, in print and on television, if dissension is ripping apart what they perceive as the delicately stitched fabric of clubhouse harmony each team must weave if it is to be successful? They see it all so clearly from their perspective, as men and women who have never been part of such clubhouses. They have always imparted to clubhouse harmony a certain romance of brotherhood they would only laugh at if someone tried to impart it, say, to the boardroom of I.B.M. They see relationships among players in a baseball clubhouse as merely an extension of the child-play relationships they remember from their youth.
In a way, this is condescending to the players, implying as it does a childishness on their part, which, as grown men, they don’t have. What reporters see, then, exists only in their mind’s eye. Which is why the players laugh. They know that clubhouse harmony or the lack of it hasn’t much to do with a team’s success on the field. Players know that good-natured camaraderie in the clubhouse, shared intimacies over a locker, plans to get together with families for a cookout on a day off, all have nothing to do with a team’s success.
…Like most men in business, baseball players compartmentalize their jobs. What goes on across the white lines is infinitely more important than what goes on behind them. A close friend who consistently strikes out with the bases loaded isn’t as much use to a ballplayer as a despised teammate who consistently strokes game-winning hits. The respect a player feels for a teammate’s personal life has nothing to do with the respect he feels for a teammate’s baseball talent. Babe Ruth, Pete Rose and Wade Boggs are three of the greatest hitters ever in the game, and yet not many teammates might envy their personal lives. Yet to a man, every player in the game would want one of those three at the plate if a World Series championship was on the line.
Check it out. There is even a “Rickey being Rickey” line about Henderson, the original Manny.