Jerry Izenberg transcript part 2 recut and edited
[00:00:35.690] - Todd
Jerry Eisenberg is on the show and I couldn't be more excited or happy about that because we are talking to an absolute legend in the sports writing business, sports media. 70 years ago, you joined the Star Ledger as a copy boy. It's amazing. 91 years old, young. I should say I heard you turned in your driver's license, though.
[00:01:00.830] - Jerry
Yeah, I'm living in Henderson, Nevada, now in exile. And somebody said the mountains are pretty. I said no, they're my prison bars. Anyway, I walked into the motor vehicle. I said to the lady, here, take this. This is my gift to the people of Henderson. It's safe to drive again. It's my license.
[00:01:24.230] - Todd
Well, I think you drive better to people in my neighborhood, Jerry.
[00:01:28.910] - Jerry
Then I don't want to be in your neighborhood.
[00:01:31.910] - Todd
Would be better. It would be better neighborhood if you were here.
[00:01:34.010] - Jerry
[00:01:35.210] - Todd
Hey, thanks a lot for joining us.
[00:01:37.130] - Jerry
[00:01:38.390] - Todd
They say quotes retired from daily work in 2006. But I know that's not true. I know you're still writing. You're the columnist emeritus for The Star Ledger in Newark, your hometown. And not only that, not only do you write for the paper and for NJ dot com, the paper's website. But, Jerry, in 2020, you released a novel. Your first novel?
[00:02:01.190] - Jerry
Yeah, that was ahead of my bucket list. I desperately want to write a novel.
[00:12:10.550] - Todd
You were one of the most prestigious sports riders dating since there wasn't even rock and roll in 1951. You were writing for the start. Your career is an amazing the list of things that you have done in your career. You covered the first 53 Super Bowls, 55 Kentucky Derby. You covered more Muhammad Ali fights than anyone dating back to the 1060 Rome Olympics. Jerry, when you think back and reflect on all that in totality 70 years, how do you sum that up?
[00:12:49.610] - Jerry
Sooner or later, I'm going to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. And it'll probably be a different profession if you could. Now, it's hard to talk about newspapers. We have really fallen on hard times today. If I were asked, my children were young again, and they said, Daddy, what do you do for a living. I would try to find something a little more prestigious and acceptable. I'd probably tell them I was a towel man in a bordello because it ain't what it used to be.
[00:13:24.990] - Jerry
I know I suffer from old, Faradays from the good old days. But I tell you, the good old days are pretty bad, too. I was born when the Depression started. I never lived in a house with a lock on the door until I came back from Korea, right? It's just the way it works.
[00:13:44.970] - Todd
Well, think about this. It was such a prestigious career that you earned the reputation that you are in 16 halls of Fame. Jerry, 16. Do you have a stock speech?
[00:13:57.330] - Jerry
Well, one of the ones that meant the most to me. I don't walk very well today. I couldn't go back for it. And that was in New Jersey State Hall of Fame induction. And Greg Siano, the records coach. He took it from me and we spoke on the phone once, and he said, no, I'll do it. I'll do it. He told some great stories about me. Some of them were even true. But one of the good things about it was I said to him, I called him the morning of the thing, and I said, Greg, he was in New Jersey and I was in Henderson about it.
[00:14:34.110] - Jerry
I said, you got to do one more thing. I didn't tell you about. You'll be given a copy of my acceptance speech. You're going to read it, Greg, don't fuck it up. And he was really terrific. He really was.
[00:16:32.350] - Todd
16 Halls of Fame, the National Sports Castor and Sports Riders Hall Fame. You won the Red Smith Award from the AP sports Editors. You have to be the only Red Smith Award winner who actually sat next to Red Smith, right? Late 50s, early 60s. When you worked at the New York Herald Tribune, you actually sat next to Red Smith.
[00:16:52.810] - Jerry
Well, a lot of guys did that in press boxes. But at work, I did it right. And he encouraged me to take the column job. The guy who really encouraged me the most involved. I had three fathers. They're not equal. My father is my father and former minor League ball player and led by example, a great man. Then I went to the Herald Tribune and I had Stanley Wood with the greatest editor, not sports. They were the greatest editor that ever lived. Toughest guy, strongest physical guy I knew.
[00:17:25.630] - Jerry
And whenever he wanted me to do something that he knew, I didn't want to do. Harold Cabinet had a bar in the lobby, the only newspaper in history. That's why I loved it. Blake's artists and writers. And every time he was going to give me an assignment he knew I didn't want. He said, let's go get a drink. We go down there. He'd reach out to the bar and get a bottle of wild Turkey. I stopped drinking that. So I said, Whatever you want me to do, I'll do it.
[00:17:55.250] - Jerry
I can't drink it anymore. You put a bottle down to get two water glasses from. He said, Finish that grass and we're going to talk. So I was screwed. I mean, whatever it was I had to do one day he brings me down there and he says, you better take two drinks. We ain't going to like this. I want you to take that columnist job over in Jersey. I said, how do you know about this? That's not your business. But I want you to take it now. I said, I'm not taking it. He said, yes, you are. I said, Look, Stanley, I'm learning. I'm having fun. I'm not getting along with my wife. I'd rather spend more time here than there. So I'm going to stay. He said, if you stay, I will fire you.
[00:18:56.390] - Jerry
And I said, you can't fire me. And he said, You're fired. And I said, what are you doing? He said, Listen to me, kid, and listen carefully. I'm going to get fired in ten days. I want you writing a column before I'm fired. That's what happened.
[00:19:14.930] - Todd
And that's when you left the New York Herald Tribune in went back to the Star Ledger to be the sports columnist.
[00:19:21.650] - Jerry
And I didn't like it. I was trying to compress the great American novel into the worst sports columns ever written. And it went on for a couple of weeks. And I didn't know. I thought I made a terrible mistake.
[00:19:35.450] - Todd
Well, you didn't, Jerry.
[00:19:38.330] - Jerry
Well, it depends on which side of the fence you're on. But nevertheless, he sent me a copy of his second book. First book was Brilliant Sports. Second book. He was dying of cancer in agony, and it was not a good book. And he inscribed the book in handwriting he wrote in a cover to Jerry Eisenberg, the logical successor to Rice Mcgeeon, John Larder and Redsmith. Wow. I thought he's drinking again. The pain must be terrible. I couldn't figure out why was it? But the irony was when I got inducted into the International, the National Sports Writers, sports castors and sports writers.
[00:20:25.470] - Jerry
His daughter called me on the phone. She wrote me a letter, too. And in the letter, she said, Jerry, I'm so happy I never met her. But I spoke to her on the phone a million times. Right. I'm so happy that you're going to be inducted into the hall of Fame, and your plaque will be on the wall with Popish. But I got to tell you something. I should have told you when he was alive, when the pain got to be too much. I would sit on the edge of his bed and I would talk to him about the two things other than my mother that he loved.
[00:21:02.230] - Jerry
One was College football and the other was newspapers. And one day I said to him, Papa, when it's all over, you know who is going to be the best you ever had. He said to me, I can't answer that at this moment. But if I were a betting man, I'd have to say within a year it's going to be Jerry Eisenberg. I kept the letter. I used that letter when I got inducted and I said, I'm an imposter. But if you're going to accept me, he's the guy that made it possible for you to accept me.
[00:21:41.330] - Jerry
So here's my second father. My third father was a fight trainer, not a fight trainer. A genius. 22 Champions, Rhae Arcell. Magnificent man. He didn't have to yell at anybody. He never raised his voice in his life. Died at 94, stopped training at 84. He gets off his train, coming to visit me. I got a little house on the seashore. Mr. Suburbanite is going to go pick him up. And I got a little heavier. While I hadn't seen him, he cuts off the train. He looks at me.
[00:22:18.390] - Jerry
He looks at my stomach more properly, and he says what he says. But the look is the look of a Talmudic scholar whose student has screwed up the blessing over food four straight times. And he doesn't know what to do. I would not see him again until I lost £15. That's how influential he was with me. And the kind of guy he was. I remember that weekend he's sitting on the porch and he's reading my column and it's about Don King, with whom I've had a squabble.
[00:22:51.870] - Jerry
[00:22:52.590] - Todd
[00:22:54.210] - Jerry
Yeah, it's hard to believe. But anyway, he's sitting there and he's not speaking. He's reading. Then he puts the paper down and says, Jerry, promise me before I die, one favor. You'll never get mad at me.
Yeah, right. Well, anyway, so you get this break to become the Star Ledger columnist in and you have since written 10,000 columns.
[00:23:34.510] - Jerry
If you want to understate it. I don't know. Because remember in the old days, we used to have to write two columns a day. Right.
[00:23:42.430] - Todd
You were writing four or five a week.
[00:23:47.050] - Jerry
I was writing every day. I was writing five days a week and then four days a week. But when you had a night event, they had this silly idea. You had to do an early column. You didn't know who won the game. You didn't know what was going on.
[00:23:59.890] - Todd
But you had to do all condition.
[00:24:01.750] - Jerry
Yeah, but you had to do that early column. So that made two columns. And listen, I tell you something. I said something to someone the other day. Someone said, It's a shame you can't keep writing forever. And I said, who says I can't? But they're still going until I get other evidence. I'll keep on writing. But I'll tell you this. I told a guy. I said, you know, look at the life I'm having not had, but I'm having. I'm the only sports writer I know. Whoever spent a whole day with Nelson Mandela.
[00:24:35.050] - Jerry
Amazing. I'm a guy. George Foreman called up at 04:00 a.m. In the morning and said, I'm going to make a comeback. And I said, Turn yourself into the hospital or something wrong. And I speak to George maybe once a month. Now, Ali and I, of course, that was a friendship. That one day I said to my wife, he might be one of my five best friends. And she said to me Because she knows me. Okay. Who are the other four? I couldn't name them.
[00:25:05.810] - Todd
Muhammad Ali. Was that good of a friend to you?
[00:25:09.110] - Jerry
No, I didn't have any friend. But who want to be my friend? I had acquaintances. I had about 4 million acquaintances. Yeah, I remember you. I know you. [00:25:18.770] - Todd
[02:14:17.030] - Jerry
George Foreman was worse than Tyson when he was a young man. Horrible guy. We're very close friend. Horrible guy. He never gave me any shit. He always confided in me. Sonny, listen, I don't have to give you his background. Always confided in me. Tyson always confided in me. I don't know something wrong with me. Maybe I never thought about that. If I'm a kindred spirit between the way they were, then what's his name came back from that Tyson.
[02:15:00.330] - Jerry
But Sonny and I got to be good friends. Where do I tell you about that? Is it Sunny? Didn't have many friends. If you read, Sonny probably didn't have many.
[02:16:09.650] - Jerry
The guys that I met. So now there was great with me. And George was great. And Tyson, I call up Tyson. He's going to find Michael Springs, which I think that was the greatest moment of his career by far, even though he got no opposition. It was the greatest moment. And I want to go down and talk there. And I like to talk to guys alone. And I've been around long enough. They think they feel obligated. I can get them on. I never go to these mass press conferences.
[02:16:43.730] - Jerry
So I call up and I get Rooney on the phone who was training a man. He was drunk. And he says, Mike ain't talking to you. I said, really? What are you, his translator and you work with the UN. How does this work? He said he ain't talking to you because the press has been unfair to Mike. And we're not talking to you. I said, Let me tell you something, asshole. Depressed does not have one head, two arms and two legs. If you want to say that Jerry Eisenberg is unfair to Mike, that's your opinion.
[02:17:17.090] - Jerry
I have no fool. You don't want me with those other assholes. I am me. They are them. So you tell them if you don't want to talk to me and go fuck himself, hang up. Phone Rings Five minutes later it's Rooney again. Mike says, if you come to Atlantic City on Thursday, he'll talk to you after the last workout. All right. I go down here now, as luck would have, we hire a new boxing writer. And I am so glad, because if he hadn't been sitting next to me, I couldn't have written a column that I wrote.
[02:17:52.370] - Jerry
On the other side of me is Bill Gil Day, a really fine writer from The Washington Post. He's retired now. So we're sitting in the showroom at Trump Plaza, where he trains. And I said to the kid we hired, listen, when I go upstairs to the dressing room, you come with me because this guy's going to be around a while and you need to meet them. You have never met. So Gil Day says, you know, I never met him. Either. Would it be okay? I said, sure.
[02:18:20.570] - Jerry
Come on. Thank God they were there. I would have had no call. We go up there and they're looking at them. They're not going to ask him a question. They're terrified. I figured I'll throw them a shot for him. Then I'll get to what I want to know. I said, So, Mike, where you run in the mornings? On the golf course? No, I run on the boardwalk. Really? Oh, yeah. 06:00 in the morning. Yeah, but there's people out there. They say, Good luck, Mike. The way he talks and I wave to them and they wave to me.
[02:18:49.670] - Jerry
And I said, Well, what do you think about when you're running about this fight? Oh, this fight is easy. No, I hear Cuss's voice tomorrow, things he used to tell me. And I said, you mean like this? And I imitated because Kuz had a voice that sounded like the old days in Indianapolis, when they all had offerhauser engines. And they whine when they went by you. That's what it costs. Sounded like. And he laughed. And I left. And he said, yeah, we had fun, he said, because I met him when he was twelve.
[02:19:24.770] - Jerry
He said, It's no fun anymore. It's the money. The money, the money. Why did Kos have to die? Why did Jimmy Jacobs have to die on me? Why did? And then he puts his head on my chest and he starts to cry so heavily. He's younger than my grandma, my kids. I put my arms around him. I said, calm down, calm down. He walked away from me, looked out the window, came back. We finished the interview. If those guys weren't there, who would have believed this happened.
[02:20:03.930] - Jerry
But they were there. And I used their name, of course. And I started the column by saying, the heavyweight champion of the world, the toughest man on the planet, cried yesterday. So I thought, you want to forget that, right? When he did the undisputed truth, his book that became a play. He used the anecdote. He praised me. I was stunned. I could live without that kind of praise.
[02:20:40.870] - Todd
Then he called me up to Mike Tyson cried.
[02:20:44.530] - Jerry
Steam Lot became the heir to all these photo things that Kate owned. And he sold to ESPN. But the photographs went to Steve Lott. So Steve said, you know what? I'll give you whatever you want for your boxing book. There is a boxing book, Motion, but you got to do two things. You got to do one thing for me. You got to give me an autograph book for me. An autograph book for Mike. That's easy. Sure. I don't hear from him. Books out. I hear from about five months I call up, hey, did you ever give Mike that book?
[02:21:21.110] - Jerry
He said, no, I'm going over to give it to him today. We had an argument. We stopped talking to him, but I'm going to give it to him today. Later that day, the phone rings Mr. Eisenberg and I said, yeah, Mike, how did you know it was me? I said, I took a lucky guess, Mike. He said, I'm so excited. I'm so thrilled that you would write that dedication to me in the book. I'll tell you what it was, but he said, I'm just so excited.
[02:21:55.830] - Jerry
I can't wait to read the book. Mike, I wrote the book. Believe me, you can wait to read it. There might be some parts you might not like. He would read it. He read in prison all the time. Don King and he were big readers.
[02:22:13.330] - Todd
I wonder if he ever read.
[02:22:15.010] - Jerry
The only thing King talked to me to not reading was the contracts King gave him. But what he did was what he did was he did use it. And exactly. We got along pretty well.
[02:24:25.310] - Todd
What was it of all the things you covered in sports? Was there anything like when the two?
[02:24:34.830] - Jerry
No. It was my second biggest thrilled ring. I knew you were going to ask that sucker. My biggest thrill was the days before Wrigleyfield put in lights, and I was between marriages. And I knew a girl who had her own apartment in Chicago. And when a schedule came out, I would circle the three day games in Chicago. And my biggest thrills were in Chicago with that woman who was married, older than me. No problem. And beyond that, I had one other thrill. I had one other thrill that I put in the category.
[02:25:16.270] - Jerry
But it's really last. True, true comb warming up one of the most horrible pictures in their first year in business. Howard Cochelle is standing behind ChuChu cone charge. What a moron. He was doing a stand up. And of course, the ball gets away from ChuChu and hits Harold and the ankle in which he works like a dog. And I said, That's got to be on the list greatest towards the sports biggest dopamine sport. No, that only happened once, but we never made another one.
FIRST TITLE FIGHT HE COVERED
[02:02:44.590] - Todd
Well, you've seen so much. And readers and viewers and sports fans in general have been so lucky to have you for the past 70 years, chronicling the greatest.
[02:02:56.230] - Jerry
Listen, I'm lucky to have had them. And what would pile off because he was contrusting because for the Tribune, I covered a couple before that first fight you ever covered at the Tribune. So Jesse goes, you got me doing tracking for you at the Tribune. You got me doing College football. You got me doing boxing. I mean, I can't do everything. Let the kid do the club fights. And I'll take them with me for the big fights. And we'll teach them when you don't have a fight, rider eventually.
[02:03:38.830] - Jerry
So now it's okay. You're going to go to St. Nick Serena, and you're going to cover a fight between a guy they didn't have to have Championship fights to sell out in New York. Then you're going to cover a fight between a guy from the Lower East Side who's fighting the Welta way champion of Pennsylvania. Well, what the fuck do I know? I've covered two fights in New Jersey, and that was it. I don't know what that is. I'm covering the title fight. How many Walter weights are there?
[02:04:07.750] - Jerry
Even in Pennsylvania, I'm going to be my big shot. I'm going to press him all because title fight. Right. So I go out there. And the guy from the Lower East Side was a pigeon fancier at that point in New York, there's a lot of guys would bet on which pigeons got to the roost first. It was a big thing, and a lot of fighters did it. Tyson just stepped into it. So this guy's a pigeon fancier. His fans come in, right? They come in and yelling, he comes in, they open their jackets, they got pigeons inside their jackets and pigeons head for the sky.
[02:04:49.450] - Jerry
But between the sky and there is a thing called the ceiling. They don't get there. Now I'm getting ready for this fight, and they're getting the introduction. And all of a sudden, I hear splat. I look at my copy paper. They have shit on what I'm writing today. I'd say it's a critique of what I had written, but they sit again now the Bell rings and all of a sudden splat my head. The two fighters are caught in all this and they both go down. They slip and they both fall.
[02:05:25.610] - Jerry
So now I got my arm. I'm wifing the pitching shit off the copy paper. I'm trying to make it work. It's over right? There was a guy sat next to me. His name was Riskanti. We called them The Count. You didn't have any other way to send them. He was a Morse code guy, and we had a Morse code guy in the office who would hear it on the phone. Click, click, and he would type it up. And VISCOUNTE later saved my ass because I was a terrible.
[02:05:56.570] - Jerry
He would make changes and he wouldn't tell me anything. But now I pull the thing out of the typewriter. It's terrible, but it's legible. I hold it like this, and I handed them. He said, What's this? I said, That's my copy. You got to say. He said, I ain't saying that shit. I don't even want to touch it. I'm in the New York Herald Tribune. You got to say. He said, New York. He said, New York, the fucking subways are running and throwing the cabs. Take it and go to your office.
[02:06:23.270] - Jerry
I'm not touching it. We later became big friends. I walked into the office and I had this thing to the slot man who looks at it. He doesn't even take it from me. He's looking at it sniffing. And what is this? I said, That's my job. He said, no, it isn't. He went into the waste basket. He said, I'll put something in its place. And I often said, when that ever comes up in the middle of his speech, I do a lot of speaking. I used to.
[02:06:54.890] - Jerry
I tell them the first thing boxing taught me that night was humility. They didn't run it. You got to run it. I work for a big paper. He was very impressed.
[02:07:10.650] - Todd
SUPER BOWL – PETE ROZELLE – KENTUCKY DERBY
[01:23:54.350] - Todd
Nobody has boxing stories like you, Jerry. And yet at the same time, you did so much more in your career. Like I mentioned 53 Super Bowls, 55 Kentucky Derbys. I mean, Super Bowl. Were you at the pool side with Joe Namoth?
[01:24:14.510] - Jerry
Yeah, I was there.
[01:24:15.710] - Todd
[01:24:16.070] - Jerry
Really? Yeah. But I wasn't in that big circle at the camera. And basically a lot of it was what he said, what he said. I never took any great credit for that. But how the world has changed. I can tell you in one quick story. Quick, how the world has changed. Super bowl, the first seven Super Bowls. I interviewed players in their hotel rooms. Try it now. The NFL Gustavo won't let you on the same floor as them. Now I'll tell you a quick story about the first Super Bowl.
[01:24:57.270] - Todd
Packers versus Chiefs.
[01:24:59.010] - Jerry
Ej hollab, the beast middle line backer for the Chiefs. I had lunch with E. J. Holler and rest is sold. Jack Murphy Sports Center in San Diego and another one of my close friends. The three of us had lunch in a Long Beach hotel coffee shop two days before the thing, and I said to him, I guess you're a little nervous, huh? He takes his hands, puts him out like this and says, Feel my palms. They were soaking wet. And I said, Is that because now you can prove yourself that you can play with these guys?
[01:25:44.970] - Jerry
I was an idiot. I didn't know anything. I was here. I was more than half my age. I'm going to be 91. I was about 40, 67 years old. What kind of a thing is that? He's a pro. Why could he be? He said, no, that isn't. Why if we win this game, the winning team gets $15,000. Man, that's tip money today for these guys. Right? Right? He said. And my wife has spent it already.
[01:26:16.650] - Todd
Now it's pressure.
[01:26:18.630] - Jerry
That is pressure. I'll tell you what.
[01:26:22.950] - Todd
You were charter member of the Super Bowl survivors group. You called yourselves the writers who all covered the first one. And Pete Roselle used at the Commissioner, used to have you for dinner before the Super Bowl, right?
[01:26:35.310] - Jerry
Yeah. We got down to about 20. And Rose, we're in a hotel ballroom. We had a party. And Joe Brown, who I love dearly. Yeah, he was a PR guy, but he was more than that. He came over to me and he said, Would you respond to Peach remarks about you guys? Pete gets up and he says, what a great moment for me. What a great moment for football. What a great moment for all of us. This is what we dreamed about. It's hard for me to believe.
[01:27:15.030] - Jerry
But when I look around, I see some missing faces. Dick Connor from Denver had died that year. I see some missing faces, and I'm wondering how long it will all be here. Now I get up to respond. I said, hey, Rosie, with all due respect, really, with all due respect, what the hell kind of an outfit is Super Club. And how do I get out of it? You get up and you tell us we're all going to die. And you service Cola, dirt and watered down drinks.
[01:27:48.930] - Jerry
I don't need to be in this club. Neither do you. The reason I could do a biography of Rochelle, which was a really good book, was because we both were single fathers. We both had drunken wives. We both raised our kids. And so it created a bond where we shared stories that he never told anybody else.
[01:28:14.950] - Todd
What made Rosel such a great Commissioner.
[01:28:20.330] - Jerry
One thing was the times because if the Rosel Davis battle had been 15 years earlier, Davis wins because that battle would have been won by a football guy. Mozo was a PR guy, but he had experience. He was the general manager of the Rams, but he was a PR guy. And his first six hires when he became Commissioner by accident, by the way, 27 on votes. His first six hires told you, if you were smart enough and I wasn't the direction football would go in the first six, all had PR experience.
[01:29:07.130] - Jerry
And no matter what job they were in. And it was amazing. He captured the newspapers in a way nobody ever did. His timing was impeccable. He let the AFL get a jump on signings, even at one point, because he had a gambling problem to deal with with the Lions and Hornig and all that stuff. And he said, in my time, my place, I'll go get it. And he got them.
[01:33:47.710] - Todd
Well, Roselle is the guy who basically took the NFL into the Stratosphere and the Super Bowl that you saw fit the first 53 of is America's Holiday Day, basically. And you also are long associated with an event that's the nation's oldest continuously held sporting event in Kentucky Derby. Now, Jerry, you didn't cover the first one in 1875, did you?
[01:34:15.610] - Jerry
Who says I didn't? I covered all those Derbys 55 in a row. I'm still covering it remotely. Here's what I do now that my walking problem has eliminated my traveling, I could call most people in the country and get an answer most people were talking to. So, like the last Derby I spoke to Wayne Lucas. I spoke to Bob Bafford. I spoke to Nick Zido. I spoke to a couple of jockeys, so I had a week's worth of columns. I watched the race on Saturday, and then on Sunday, I analyzed it.
[01:34:57.430] - Jerry
So it's not as good as being there. It isn't, no matter what people think. And my instructions are, you cannot put a Louisville Dateline or anything. I write. I'm not trying to fool anybody. I'm just trying to do it better than some other people.
[01:35:16.670] - Todd
But you were still part of it. Still part of it.
[01:35:19.310] - Jerry
Yeah. Very much so. All right.
[01:35:21.110] - Todd
I'm going to hit you with the rapid fire portion of our show with memories. And you did 55 Derbys. You saw five Triple Crown runners. Think about it.
[01:35:30.710] - Jerry
I did over 40 World Series and did about 25 30 NBA Finals. Did a whole bunch of US open golf tournaments.
[01:35:47.030] - Todd
Well, let me get you with the Derby first.
[01:35:48.770] - Jerry
All right, go ahead.
[01:35:49.610] - Todd
You give me a favorite memory of a horse, a jockey, a trainer. What's the first thing that comes to mind about all those Derbys?
[01:36:00.210] - Jerry
Canyon arrow two. Canyon Arrow. Two was a horse morning, Kentucky with a crooked leg. Nobody in his right mind would have bought him. He winds up on a resale with a Venezuelan toilet sheet maker who takes him to Venezuela. He can't win down in Venezuela. They have mile and a quarter races. They don't have them a lot here. And he wanted to win the Kentucky Derby. But he wanted to send him there. So he said to his trainer, Juan Aries, the first black man in slavery to train in the Derby.
[01:36:44.770] - Jerry
He said to one, take them to Louisville. Let them run into Derby. That's a mile and a quarter. We use it as a tightener when the Kentucky hard boots see that they're using his Kentucky Derby for practice. They go be a shirt and they charter a plane and they're leaving from Venezuela. And they have trouble with the plane and back and forth and Friday, they take off. They get just before the point of no return. There's a bad agent. They turn around, they come back again.
[01:37:23.630] - Jerry
They leave the horse on the plane in the heat. At that point, while they're repairing the plane again, they take off again. So they fly twice. They land in Miami. And of course, the horse has to merely go into quarantine. He's quarantined for a week. They let him out of quarantine on the 8th day, which is six days or seven days before the Derby. And this team. You love this team. Arius is the first black jockey. Average Gomez is the jockey who flunked twice out of Venezuelan National Jockey school because it kept falling off the horse.
[01:38:05.930] - Jerry
And then you got the horse. So the owner was told I can get him on a flight. What flight? I spent enough money on that horse already put him in a truck, drive them to Louisville. He arrived right now. It's like five days before the race. He arrived. Everybody's laughing here's. His horse truck five days before. And they know this story about all these. And they know he had a crooked leg and they know nobody in Kentucky water. I wrote a piece saying, talk about persistence.
[01:38:39.650] - Jerry
Talk about roses. That might be something else. They break from the gate. He is dead last now, one or two other horses have done that. But he's also going to run on the outside. There are 20 horses in the race, I think year 20 and 21, the Calvary charge. Well, it always is now because that race isn't one as much as it's lost, you lose it coming out of the gate. When you get banged, right, you lose it going into the first turn when you get banged again, because you got to get too many horses and not enough room to come out of that into the turn.
[01:39:24.090] - Jerry
And then if you got a decent horse and you still survive, you got a chance. Well, this horse is in last place. I think there were 18 horses because he was in 18th, and he's running on the outside. He runs on the outside all the way around. It's like they started in Louisville. He started in Cincinnati. Just keep adding feet for the amount of extra feet that he had to run. He wins the damn race. Everybody is stunned, right? And it's magnificent thing. The hottest ticket in those days at the Derby was the trainers party.
[01:40:02.310] - Jerry
The winning trainers party. Oh, yeah. Nobody shows up. Avalanche is there, and he wins down. And he gets all the Latinos he can find on the backstretch. And the guys who are hot walkers, they're going to go to the trainer's party and they're going to eat that food and they're all. They storm it and they come in. Nobody is there who trained against them? Nobody. And I strike up a friendship with me. That's my kind of guy. Plus the fact he was a poet, and I like his poetry.
[01:40:34.350] - Jerry
I told him I thought he's pretty good. So. All right, what are they saying about me and about the horse? Tell me they hate you. They hate you. You're an imposter. They want to tighten the immigration laws and keep people like you out. You beat all these Kentucky owners and these Maryland owners and these online guys and the regular jockeys, they hate you. And one of them said to me, Where do we get the pimple? He ain't coming from last place there. That's a tighter tracking.
[01:41:11.370] - Jerry
Let's see what he can do there. So he said, I tell you what I'm going to do. He was a good guy. He made a lot of columns for me. I tell you what I'm going to do. We're going to go from start to finish. We're going to lead all the way. You watch. And he did. Now he's got two thirds at a triple Crown. Now everybody's up in arms. The New York racing associate.
[01:41:39.630] - Jerry
They haven't had a triple Crown since. I don't remember who it was. The guy in 38, and it's like 20, some odd years. You would think come and see history made. Do you think that would be the ads? Yeah.
[01:41:55.830] - Todd
It's an easy sell.
[01:41:56.910] - Jerry
No. The ads is the test of Champions a mile and a half. They don't want this wish to win and they don't even want to sell them. Look how many Latino countries are represented in New York with driving distance. And so what happens is they show up anyway. And I'm standing on the roof looking down at the walking ring where they walk the horses around. Right after they're settled. There's a fence between the clubhouse and the grandson on the grandson side. They didn't care what Ecuador. They're waving their own flags.
[01:43:00.910] - Jerry
But he's their horse, right. Right. When the horse passes that barrier, here's, the way they sit, they stand there arms folded, staring. That's the clubhouse gang. They don't want this guy to win. Turns out which nobody knew he had an equine disease called thrush. Right. And they were going to pull them out of the race. Now these people who didn't want them to win. Oh, no, you can't pull out of the race. We got to have you the Triple Crown. You won two thirds when you got to run.
[01:43:33.970] - Jerry
So as a courtesy, he runs. He finishes fifth. And I remember the guy in the press box. I won't use his name. Local horse rider turns and says, you see, I told you, the son of it couldn't train. And it was incredible to me. This horse went through so much. And he was a hero to me. Other horses. Best ride I ever saw a Shoemaker who went from last to first. But what he did, he went through the whole pack. So he passed every horse honey in the middle of the unbelievable ride.
[01:44:10.330] - Jerry
And there were so many other things.
[01:44:12.850] - Todd
You're a Ken ventsuri us open win. Willis Reid when he limps out at the garden. Haley's final game with Nelson Mandela. [01:44:24.310] - Jerry
PELE’S LAST GAME
[02:10:15.290] - Jerry
You talk about history. The most dramatic thing I've ever seen.
[02:10:19.790] - Todd
You covered pay was stood up at the Meadowlands in 78, right.
[02:10:24.710] - Jerry
It was an All Star game in which he played the first half with the Cosmos and the second half with an all Star team made up of old teammates from other teams. And after the game, he stood up on his platform 76,000 people. And he said, I came here because my life, soccer is a beautiful game. And I think it's sad that the people of the greatest company in the world don't understand it. And he did come for that reason, because I remember him when he was with the original.
[02:11:11.010] - Jerry
Before he went to the Cosmos. He's with a team called Generals, which the Cosmos absorbed. And he played a game in Rochester in a Stadium. It looked like a Stadium in Newark, walked in. There were nails in the wall. He hung his clothes up on the nail, and he was just into the game. Before we went to the game. I walked into the holiday and I'm going to go on a team bus parking a Holiday Inn. We're in Rochester and he's in the lobby with a guitar.
[02:11:40.770] - Jerry
And he's singing a stupid song. And he's pointing to people when he does what they have to sing. La back at him. He's got everybody fast. These are not players. These are people in the hotel. And someone says, hey, we got to get out of here. It's like, okay, so we go to the bus. And just before most of them are on the bus now. And these two, I would call them all women. Then they were probably in their 50s and not bad looking either. And one of them said to Pele, Can we take your picture?
[02:12:18.490] - Jerry
No, Mr. Ryder here will take your pictures with Pele. So I got it. No sun in the bed. Get on the other side. Now. We got to go around it. He's directing this picture. But that patience that he shared with these people. He was incredible. He was a wonderful guy. I really liked him. So he's making a speech about why he was here. And then he says, And I want the children to have the opportunity to play this great game. And so I want to tell you what I think of the children.
[02:12:57.010] - Jerry
And I want you to tell me. So you repeat the words I say after me. And he says, Love, and I yell, Love, 76,000 people love. He does it three times. And I'll tell you, I felt goose. If I were a decent person, I would have cried. By then. Everybody else was most emotional thing I ever saw. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[01:50:12.970] - Todd
Jared, before we wrap this up, I wanted to ask you about one person. And the reason I want to ask this is because a theme throughout all of your great career when I look at it is social justice. And the person I want to ask you about is Larry Doby and Larry Doby broke the color barrier in the American League in 1047, a few months after Jackie Robinson. And you got to know Larry Doby very well because he lived in Montclair, New Jersey. What did Larry mean to you?
[01:50:48.730] - Todd
And do you think Larry has ever really been given the claim that he should have gotten for doing the same thing? Jackie did not to take anything away from Jackie. I'm just saying, Larry seems to be long.
[01:51:01.750] - Jerry
But Larry had it harder. Let me tell you something about that. Now. I'm not knocking Jackie. Jackie did was incredible, right? Nevertheless, Jackie had a team branch. Ricky said, you don't want to play with this black guy. I'll trade you. He had a team that supported him when they threw it him. His team supported him. Doby goes to join the Indians. Vek is not there. Probably the patron Saint of base war. If they listen to him enough and he wasn't there, he had Boudro who didn't want him.
[01:51:34.450] - Jerry
The manager playing manager introduced him 25 guys, two equipment managers, four coaches and a manager. Three guys shook his hand. Everybody else turned and faced the wall. When he was born around, he went into changing his uniform. He never had really run into discrimination because he came from Patterson, New Jersey. All of his games were integrated. He even went a year at Long Island University. But when he changed his clothes, he didn't have a lock because they were a visiting team, and they had updated the roster.
[01:52:14.750] - Jerry
So he changed his clothes in a men's room, went on the field and he hears his familiar sound, which is balls hitting gloves. They're all throwing the ball back and forth. He steps out of the dugout shadow. Nobody will throw him the ball.
[01:52:34.010] - Jerry
And he says, I'm going home. I don't need this shit. And just then somebody punches him right here on the side. But it's not a point. It's kind of a love. Tap it's Joe Gordon. I'm happy to say my boyhood hero because she played second base for the Newark Bears in the International League, went to the Yankees, and in the end, in the Twilight, was traded to the Indians, and he looks at Dobie and rookie. You want to warm up or you're going to stand here and profiling your uniform.
[01:53:07.610] - Jerry
That started a lifelong friendship between those two guys. Lifelong. But I became Adobe. I understood Doby by accident. I'm an established columnist. I'd see him. He was living in my home and it wasn't my hometown really? Well, it was. I stayed there, like two years. He was living there. But my paper was his hometown paper. I didn't realize he read me in New York season one time, and he liked the stands that I made for different things. I didn't know that. My doorbell rings one day.
[01:53:44.630] - Jerry
It's a winter to snow on the ground, he says to me, what do you drink? Well, without telling you making too many confessions, I will tell you I was not always a fine, upstanding citizen that you see before you. Now, I was kind of a bum for a long time, so I gave him an honest answer. If it's wet, I'll drink it. Larry said, I'll be here at 07:00 tonight with a bottle of Scotch. I go get another bottle of Scotch. Take it out. Put it on the table.
[01:54:16.250] - Jerry
07:00. Larry rings the doorbell. I'm on my way to a divorce anyway, so I answer the door. I go to the kitchen, put the other bottle out there. It's two bottles now. We did not get up from those kitchen chairs until the sun came up. Yes, and one bottle was gone and a third of another bottle was left. He told me everything that had happened to him in his life. That was bad. Everything was talking about a catharsis. I have no idea why he chose me.
[01:54:52.670] - Jerry
I would see him. They play the Yankees eleven times. They were lousy most of the time. And part of that timing act is lousy. So I go maybe four times a season, maybe less.
[01:55:03.350] - Todd
[01:55:03.890] - Jerry
Hi, Jerry. That was it. Now he's telling me. He tells me everything. He tells me what it was like when the team turned on him. He tells me that three years after he was an Indian and they had satchel Inn and they had Luke Easter, who they got rid of. So it might have been two Blacks only on his team. I don't know him and another guy, Art Ditmore. I should name him, but I will, he says. Art Ditmar always threw in his head, but Art Ditmore, he says, threw behind him, which means you're trying to hit a guy in the head because it's a reflex accent.
[01:55:42.470] - Jerry
Pull back. Dimarnow has become a Yankee third, two or 2nd 3rd team. It's a good picture. He doesn't brush him back from the plate. He throws the ball behind his head, drops the back goes out to the Mount. Larry was a powerful guy. A lot of baseball players should be happy today that Larry didn't have a hair trigger temper. He belch did one and knocks him on the ground. The Yankees are all over Adobe. They're all piling on top of Dolby. There's a space between legs at the bottom of the pile, and he looks up and he sees third year in baseball.
[01:56:25.950] - Jerry
Walt Dropo, leading the charge from the dugout and all these white guys coming to defend him. And when he told me the story, he said, after three years, I finally had teammates.
[01:57:56.610] - Jerry
Mary did so many things that I remember when I had Project Pride, which is my group for the kids in Newark. We played a football game, Army, Navy JVs for 29 years. But for four years I had a Man of the year dinner. After that, I ran out of friends. I had Ali, I had parcels, I had someone else. And then I had Doby. Then I ran out of friends. But Doby comes to the dinner and I introduced him with a really fiery because he's my friend by that.
[01:58:32.010] - Jerry
I mean, really, he's my wife's friend. We just got to his wife and my wife used to. They sat in the lobby of the hall of Fame when I arranged a tour for Adobe, who'd never been and was going to be inducted the next day. And I got to tell you, I won't get into it. But I take a piece of personal satisfaction and I help get him in, after all.
[01:58:57.210] - Todd
And I know that you were instrumental in getting him into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
[01:59:01.710] - Jerry
But anyway, Larry, he went through all that. So he gets up at my dinner, but he's getting a standing ovation. And he says, wow, he says, I'm impressed. Where were all of you in 1047 when I was having a little bit of trouble. Exactly. He was marvelous. I loved the man. I got to tell you this first. I'm working on a book right now about Larry Doby, and it's going to be I use a working title. It's not going to be the title of the book, but I use a working title to keep myself focused on what I want to bring out.
[01:59:41.830] - Jerry
And it's Larry Doby. The pain of being second. That's the theme of the book. Hey, I'm busy. I'm productive. I finished another book yesterday, which is called Josh Gibson Remembers a Ghost Story. It's a story of black baseball told through the eyes of six guys who played in the Negro lease with a friend of mine.
[02:00:07.090] - Todd
You actually saw Josh Gibson play? Think about it.
[02:00:09.610] - Jerry
Yeah, of course. Amazing. I saw a lot of guys. I did not see John McGraw when he played Avenue.
[02:00:18.130] – Todd
[01:44:24.310] - Jerry
It's been an act of life. I will say this. I think so. There weren't too many gimmicks, but it was an act of life. I loved what I did. I love what I'm doing. I hope I can walk once you get. I mean, I can walk, but I hope I can walk well enough to go on a road and get in a Derby crowd or whatever it is. But I'm going to keep on going because, well, I love this business. I love Stanley Woodward. I love the great writers in this business.
[01:45:05.390] - Jerry
Everybody says, because I kind of flowery with the language of time. Everybody says, you got it from Red Smith. What I got from Redsmith was a license to use the English language. We never did it. It was a Kanto. It wasn't an ending. It was a Homeric blast. It wasn't a homer. But Red Road English. And I loved that. But the guy and I had a traveling faculty, the last of the great ones. I was a kid when I became a columnist. I was the youngest national columnist in America.
[01:45:40.190] - Jerry
32. All these old forts were helping me. They went out of their way. Frank Graham taught me the value of standing around a batting cage and listened to the conversation, which also I refined because I learned to speak Spanish, and I never told them. And I could listen to Latino players talking about the manager or whatever and know what they were saying, right? I learned from all of them. But the guy I learned the most from was Jimmy Cannon. Jimmy Cannon liked me because I chased fire engines like he did before we became sports writers.
[01:46:20.090] - Jerry
And I was a kid, a baby to him. And Jimmy one day here's when I learned about him, about learning to make up your mind and to hear, to hear and see things you got to hear. Most of my guys see what they don't hear today. So I'm in a loser's dressing woman in a big heavyweight fight, and it was so heartbreaking that he lost. I forget what the fight was. Jimmy goes to the losers room, and I go to lose about four or five guys in the losers.
[01:46:51.470] - Jerry
Everybody's in the winners room, and some embezzle says to the fighter, Did you see the punch that knocked you out? And Cannon says, Idiot, if he saw the punch, we'd be in the other dressing room. That's how I learned. And I don't see people enough. There are guys out there. I see some good ones who can write, but most people get into it because they want to jump from the newspapers to television. I will not name anybody, but I can think of at least six guys whose newspaper work was so defective that one of the copy readers I won't name the town told me nothing ever went in the paper the way he wrote it.
[01:47:38.990] - Jerry
This guy's a big star now, but it's yelling. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[00:10:36.610] - Todd
I'm going to tell you something. You're still writing. In 2020, you released a first novel after the Fire, Love and Hate in the Ashes of 1967. You're writing novels at age 90, 91. I can't even get my ass out of bed, Jerry.
[00:10:54.530] - Jerry
No ain't novel. I ain't going to write another one. Believe me.
[00:10:59.210] - Todd
You wrote 15 nonfiction books. So you just crank in.
[00:11:03.230] - Jerry
Still writing. Still writing columns.
[00:11:06.170] - Todd
It's an amazing thing. I know, Jerry. You did a radio show. You did a TV show. You have 35 network TV documentaries, including an Emmy nomination for one about Lombardi. But I know at your heart you've always been a newspaper man, right?
[00:11:23.990] - Jerry
Well, at 91, you start thinking about when you're going to leave. And I will say this. I don't think much about it, but my wife and I said, let's get all the ritualistic things over early. So we paid for the funeral and everything else at her funeral whenever and my headstone is not going to be a stone. It's a plaque. It's going to say devoted husband and father. And at the bottom, it's going to say a newspaper man. Wow. That's what I am. I
-THE END -