"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Man

The service today for Todd was beautiful and well-attended. There were a series of photographs of Todd, a big fella, who looked like a combination of Matt Damon and Don Rickles. Rickles without the nastiness. As one of his friends said, Todd was tough but never mean-spirited.

I knew how deeply Todd and his writing touched us here in the baseball community, and that of course extended to his co-workers at the ACLU as well as his family. I knew that Todd was a caring soul, hard-working and determined. But today, we learned that he loved to go to the ballet with his wife Marsha. He raced motor bikes as a kid in Syracuse and played hockey and later covered race car driving and even worked for Dale Earnhardt for a year. He was a dog lover, and he enjoyed a good cigar.

Todd’s sister reminded us that he was no saint, a commanding but tender big brother who wasn’t above playing a prank on his syblings, like when he sprayed Pledge on the kitchen floor during a game of hide-and-seek. His wife said that his calm demeanor changed when he was at Yankee Stadium watching a game, especially if the Sox were in town.

At the end of the ceremony, Todd’s father-in-law said the final words and put a Yankee cap on–so did many of the guests in the audience. It’s so easy to be cynical about big time sports these days–I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the New York Yankees and the ACLU celebrated jointly before–but it was a moment that reminded me why our teams, these games, matter so much to us, how they keep us together. Then we all sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

I came away knowing more about Todd, feeling closer to him than before. I am honored to call him a friend. I am also more aware of just how much he will be missed.

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1 jkay   ~  Jan 18, 2009 9:05 pm

Alex, I never had the pleasure of meeting Todd, sounds like he was as good a person as he was a writer.

I am sorry for your loss and thanks for speaking out for all of us at Todd's service.

2 Will Weiss   ~  Jan 18, 2009 9:18 pm

[0] Thanks Alex. I'm sorry I was unable to attend. Your portrayal of him as a combination of Matt Damon and Don Rickles is spot-on.

As always, you represent us well.

3 Yankee Mama   ~  Jan 18, 2009 9:48 pm

Ballet, baseball and fast cars.... How cool is that? What a substantial person. I suppose that's why his wiriting was so palpable. Thanks Alex for representing us. I'm sure I would have been crying my eyes out.

Would love his list of his favorite sports writers. Was Pat Jordan one of them?

4 bronxborn   ~  Jan 18, 2009 11:31 pm

Thanks Alex.

Todd is a very special being. I wish him well.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 19, 2009 12:38 am

The list Todd sent was as follows:

Jimmy Breslin
Frank Deford
Leigh Montville
Pat Jordan
John Schulian
Peter Richmond
Charles Pierce
Dave Kindred
Jason Whitlock
EM Swift
Gary Smith
William Rhoden
SL Price
Mark Kram
Dave Zirin
Steve Rushin
Tim Kurkijan
Phil Taylor

6 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 19, 2009 12:39 am

Oh, and Bill Nack and Richard Hoffer too.

7 Yankee Mama   ~  Jan 19, 2009 8:42 am

Thanks, Alex. I look forward to the exploration. A bunch I know. Most I don't.

8 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jan 19, 2009 8:54 am


Thank you for the posting. I've been away, and so am only now learning this news. 41 is appallingly, achingly too soon, and the sorrow of that only intensifies the condolences I'd like to add to those already expressed here, to his family.

Reading these posts I do come away with a renewed sense of how 'real' online communities can be. There is nothing virtual about what's being said and shared here.

9 Shaun P.   ~  Jan 19, 2009 9:22 am

Thanks for being there for those of us who couldn't be, Alex.

If anyone is interested, there's a post over at Todd's old YFJ blog that says where donations can be made in Todd's name. I just stumbled on it myself and I know some folks were asking about that last week. http://tinyurl.com/753bnn

10 Jed   ~  Jan 19, 2009 10:39 am

Alex thanks for the reading yesterday and for the ways you've honored Todd these last few days and previously. It was so meaningful for his colleagues and former colleagues - like me - to see all the extraordinary facets of him.

And as the person who sat next to him for 2 years, good call on the Matt Damon/Don Rickles thing! I asked him once if he ever got the Matt Damon comparison and he claimed he hadn't, in that inimitably self-effacing way.

All the best,

Jed Miller

p.s. for a glimpse of Todd's "other" work, see the intense printed report on Katrina that he published with ACLU's legal team and many others two years running:

11 Evil Empire   ~  Jan 20, 2009 10:47 am

Thanks Alex. That was beautifully written and I am sure To would appreciate it.

[3][5] if you go to http://yankeesforjustice.blogspot.com/ and click on "view my complete profile" (at the bottom of the page on the left, you can find out about Todd's interest, music, books etc. I've added his books to my reading list and I have "discovered" some new music because of him.

12 Scallionboy   ~  Jan 21, 2009 9:14 am

I found Todd's work on a blogroll. Couldn't resist the title, "Yankees for Justice" and was delighted to find that it had nothing to do with the ex-Mr. Halle Berry. The beauty of those characters was that while they all scrambled to make it, running a coffee wagon or selling Yankee gear down at Battery Park, they never sounded bitter about the big bucks their idols were taking down. As long as they got a good game from Arod or Jeter or Mo, the money wasn't a source of resentment. They were all about the Game. God bless Todd for bringing them to us, and God bless his crew up in the Bronx, the truest of fans.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver