By In Stuff

Life

When I was a kid, I only wanted to be a baseball player. That was not just the biggest dream I could come up with, it was more or less the only dream. I played other sports, of course, and I did other things, but I did not dream about them. I did not dream that I could be a professional magician or a comedian or an NFL quarterback. I did not dream that I could be President or a rock star. There was always a realism cell patrolling my mind like a policeman twirling a nightstick on a beat, stopping and frisking any dream that lacked validity.

“All right now, you, move along now before someone gets hurt,” the cell would say (in a cool Irish accent) to any dreams of being a movie star or an NBA point guard.

The only dream that ever got through was that baseball dream.

Funny, the baseball dream was no more realistic than the others … but my mind allowed it. I would fall asleep to visions of me making diving stops while playing second base at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. I would wake up with those visions still fresh in my mind. And all through the day, I would get lost thinking about it. There was something about baseball that slipped past the rational side of my constantly pessimistic self-evaluation. I couldn’t do much. But I could play ball. At least that’s what I believed about myself.

That was all a long time ago, and a million things have happened to me, the vast majority of them good things, impossibly good things, unreasonably good things. I got a sportswriting job while I was still in college trying to figure out what to do with my life. I got a columnist job in America’s golf mecca when I was 24 years old even though I knew nothing about nothing and even less about golf. I was hired again and again by brilliant people whose kindness and strength just happened to perfectly fit my life at that exact moment … I was like Mr. Magoo, walking aimlessly and blindly through a dangerous world and having construction beams move beneath my feet to give support. I couldn’t tell you what I did to have such karma. I can only imagine that my soul did some seriously selfless acts in a past life.

My life has been so lucky, that at some point I lost count — lost count of the number of Super Bowls, the number of World Series, the number of Masters, the number of Olympics. “A lot,” I would say when people asked. I covered sports on six continents, man! I saw just about every great athlete of this generation play and talked with almost all of them, man! I wrote cover stories for Sports Illustrated, and I worked on the best sports staff in America at The Kansas City Star, and I won an Emmy for NBC Sports, man!

And if this is beginning to sound like an obituary, like I’m about to tell you that I’m dying, well, no, I’m just overdoing it because I never feel like I have said thank you enough.

I’m not dying … quite the opposite … I’m going back to the beginning.

Starting in the new year, I’m going to write baseball for a living.

And I feel like that kid again.

You may note that I have bounced around jobs a bit the last few years. I certainly have noted that. It isn’t my nature, but I don’t need to tell you that the business I’m in is volatile. Staffs shrink. Advertising dies. Everybody looks to see how to make the future work.

I loved working at NBC. It was an absurd honor for me to work with such talented people — nobody, in my mind, does better sports programming. Those guys took a chance on me four years ago; and they did not have to do that. NBC is a television network, not a place for written storytelling, but they changed that just for me. There was no real money in it for them; they knew that the day they hired me. They hired me anyway because they believed in my writing. They stuck with me because they believed in my writing. I will forever be grateful for that and for them.

But there are realities at great television networks too. And  here I am, approaching 50 years old, two daughters that refuse to stay 10-years-old no matter how many times I ask them, and I found myself asking: What do I WANT to do? Do I want to keep spending half the year on the road? Do I want to cover more Super Bowls and more Olympics and more World Cups? Do I want to keep living the way I have been living for 30 years?

Sounds like a pretty great life to me.

But I realized, no.

I realized that what I want — what I really want — is to write baseball.

And, one more time, I was given this wonderful gift, the latest four-leaf clover in a life filled with them. I will write baseball. I will talk baseball. I will live baseball. I won’t go into the details now. But it’s baseball.

I’m a very different person now than I was at 9 or 10 — at least I hope so — but you know what’s crazy? That dream, the one I had then, it never really went away. I’ll never get to make that diving play at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, no, because the Stadium is gone and my knees are gone, and I never could hit the curveball anyway. But this, writing baseball, this is the grown up version of that dream. And the policeman in my mind twirls his nightstick happily and smiles just a little smile.

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96 Responses to Life

  1. Steve Ryan says:

    You are blessed. I couldn’t hit a curveball or fastball.

  2. Tim says:

    That’s fantastic!

  3. DB says:

    Hallelujah!

  4. Mike says:

    This is wonderful news! Your other stories are great, but baseball is clearly where your heart is. I, for one, cannot wait!

  5. Jere says:

    Good for you. It makes me happy to read that you are happy. Merry Christmas and may 2017 be even greater for you and your family. Thanks for everything you’ve written.

  6. John Tierney says:

    Here is a good place to watch baseball. Grand Junction Colorado during the Junior College World Series. See if you have an opening in your schedule at that time.

    • Pat says:

      Hah… Juco was my first exposure to baseball, although I mostly used it as an excuse to get popcorn and pretzels and a pop. I found out years later that I saw Curt Schilling pitch at Juco when I was like five or six. (I did know who he was at the time. I did not know what a baseball game was at the time. But I found the program and rosters on the Internet years later.)

  7. Brad says:

    This makes me happy too. While I read most everything that you write here or wherever else, your baseball writing is the best. The best.

  8. Oilcan23 says:

    Congratulations! And every moment that you spend not writing about football or golf is a win for those of us who only care about baseball, anyway.

  9. Genyo says:

    Amazing! Keep the dream(s) alive.

  10. jay_B says:

    Best of luck, Joe!

  11. KCJoe says:

    I can’t wait. I would wish you good luck but you don’t need it. You have made all of the luck that you have. Passion for your subjects is the common thread in all that you do. And of course, writing like you’re running out of time.
    Congratulations on continuing to pursue your dream.

  12. david benbow says:

    I bet you could hit my curveball, but then I’m 71. Although there was a time, maybe you couldn’t. I was throwing batting practice late one spring afternoon at the Statesville High School ball park, where I was a pitcher. As my high school team ended practice some of the Statesville Owls class D players were coming onto the field, which we shared in the early 1960’s. One of the Owls asked me to throw him some batting practice. I was thrilled. He was a pro baseball player. I threw some pitches to him. He hit them. I then slipped my curve in on him and he swung and missed. I could not stifle my grin. He saw it. He sent my next pitch screaming between my legs. I told him I had to go and as I walked off the mound, he grinned at me.

  13. Todd says:

    Congrats Joe! Sounds like you are making another very wise decision. Have a blessed 2017 and GO ROYALS!!

  14. Mike says:

    Selfishly I am hoping this means we pick up at #31….. You have a legion waiting each morning, hitting refresh.. sipping coffee .. As a father of a teenage young lady, I hope you still sprinkle in the “Katy the Prefect” and another “Dear Elizabeth”.

    • Karen Charmatz says:

      I don’t know you but I LOVE this reply!

      • Mike says:

        You know me now. I am Mike who wrote that. ;-).

        • Dr. Baseball says:

          I was going to make a similar point to all the above.

          Joe – whatever you write is great, but I love the baseball pieces the best.

          That being said, I do hope we get an occasional family story – and occasional rock-and-roll story, and even an occasional story about other sports.

          I imagine if the Browns win a game someday there will be a post on that. There has to be…right?

          I wish you all the best!

          Congratulations on always following your dreams and for sharing your great skills with all of us.

        • Dr. Baseball says:

          I was going to make a similar point to much of the above.

          Whatever you write is great, but I love the baseball pieces the best.

          That being said, I do hope we get an occasional family story – and occasional rock-and-roll story, and even an occasional story about other sports.

          I imagine if the Browns win a game someday there will be a post on that. There has to be…right?

          I wish you all the best!

          Congratulations on always following your dreams and for sharing your great skills with all of us.

          • NJTigFan says:

            I echo all of the above. Baseball and reports on the girls (“Swimming in Socks”). Congratulations Joe.

  15. Joe M says:

    That sounds better than the life choice I made at 50, which was to get divorced.

    Seriously, best of luck, Joe. And add me to the list of folks grateful that you will be concentrating on baseball writing.

  16. RJB says:

    I’m soooo happy too! No more NASCAR and NFL! And I had even read some of those just because you wrote them.

  17. Karen Charmatz says:

    Congrats! The first story of yours that I read was a baseball story in SI and, as the saying goes, I was hooked. I immediately found your blog and read everything else listed there. Your writing is fantastic and I will read anything you write whether it be about baseball, Olympics, movies, iPad reviews or the disappearance of telephone books (oh wait, you haven’t done that one yet…). I’m looking forward to reading your baseball stuff wherever it is posted.

  18. Rob Tallia says:

    What? No more NASCAR? But seriously Joe, my cup runneth over–I enjoy ALL your stuff, and you made me think more critically and be interested in other sports, but this is going to be like your favorite chef becoming your live-in son-in-law or something….

  19. PS says:

    Thrilled for you. Maybe for The New Yorker, succession plan for Roger Angell (who’s still amazingly at it)? We can hope.

  20. Radar says:

    Joe, I’ll always read anything you write. I tell all my friends that you could write about grass growing and make it compelling. I love baseball, and I love how you write about baseball, so I’ll love reading your concentrated baseball writing. But as someone else said, an occasional “Katie the Prefect” story wouldn’t hurt.

    Thank you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  21. Dave says:

    I love all sports and have enjoyed all your writing, but let me add my name to the list of people excited to see a sole baseball focus — that’s awesome!

    And I certainly hope this affords you the ability to travel less and see the kids more before they move out of the house.

  22. Carl says:

    And somewhere on a sun drenched green baseball field in the sky Buck O’neal is smiling.

  23. Becky Neil says:

    Congrats!
    Bet your family is happy! Still miss you at the Star!

  24. GWP says:

    This is the best news I’ve heard all day!
    And once more I’d love an article on your answer to the question, “Who are the best BASEBALL players to never make the cover of Sports Illustrated?”

  25. Don Makson says:

    Congrats! Faith has been rewarded. Please make sure we can all continue reading you.

  26. Laurence says:

    An early Christmas present!!!!

  27. Duncan Lejtenyi says:

    That’s great – congratulations!

  28. TGuy says:

    Touch ’em all Joe (shout out Tom) , your blessed life makes the games and the people infamous

  29. Patrick L Dunn says:

    I’m happily and gratefully in for the ride Joe. Good luck and thanks.

  30. Marcio Sanchez says:

    Beautiful as always

  31. Owen says:

    This is incredible. You’re better at writing about baseball than you are any other sport. It was great to get the chance to introduce myself at the winter meetings. Unlike Jake Peralta and Terry Jeffords, I can say that you do want to meet your heroes. Your readers can’t wait to find out what your platform will be. Best of luck!

  32. Duane Kuiper says:

    Welcome home

  33. Robert says:

    Darn. There goes the guy who wrote the best hockey stories ever. I’ll hide my disappointment and congratulate you on your move. Very few of us ever get to do exactly what they hope for most. Good luck!

  34. Alan says:

    That’s great to hear, Joe — looking forward to it!!

  35. ajnrules says:

    I’m so happy for you! I hope to be at Cooperstown some day to watch you get the J.G. Taylor Spink award! 🙂

  36. DjangoZ says:

    Baseball is my least favorite sport…but I’ll read about it when you write about it.

  37. Richard says:

    Joe could write about the latest meeting of a local Zoning Commission and make it interesting and worth your time.

  38. Matthew Clark says:

    Very good news for your fans and I am sure it will be good for you. Oddly enough given the title of your piece, I think the only thing you write better than baseball is obits. Well, maybe baseball connected obits.

  39. BearOn says:

    Beauty!

  40. David Buck says:

    Please tell me we’ll see occasional Olympics commentary. And some Springsteen stuff. And some Hamilton stuff…but seriously, enjoy the baseball.

  41. Chris Smith says:

    Love the baseball work, but you gotta throw in some golf once in a while. The Arnie piece alone should be framed in the golf Hall of Fame.

  42. Marshall says:

    Congratulations, Joe! I’m really looking forward to whatever this next step brings.

  43. shagster says:

    Thank god. Welcome back, kid.

  44. Dale says:

    Outstanding!

  45. Ross says:

    Ditto all the above. Great to hear some more baseball coming. But as many have noted above, I’ll read anything. Joe even had me reading his golf stuff. Golf, for crying out loud.

  46. Nickolai says:

    Congrats Joe! I would (and have) read whatever you write on pretty much any subject, but I am thrilled that you can focus on what you love most.

  47. Keith says:

    Fantastic news, Joe — congratulations. As many have already said, I’d read about anything — even Nascar — if you’re the one writing about it. (Just like I’d listen to anything — like the relative merits of various letters of the alphabet, or pieces of currency, or the Lady Byng Trophy — if you and Schur are podcasting about it.) But baseball is definitely the way to go. Well, that and Springsteen. And infomercials.

  48. CreightonKUKate says:

    This makes me very happy!

  49. Kyle Snyder says:

    Joe, I wish you and Terry Pluto would get together on a book about the Cleveland Indians, or combine for some columns. I would love to read your thoughts and discussions.

  50. Rob Smith says:

    On a practical note, unrelated to your dreams, staying around home is big. I could double my salary if I was willing to travel most weeks. But I don’t and never wanted to. Why would I miss 5/7 of my kid’s lives? Why would I sign up for not sleeping next to my wife 5 out of 7 nights? For what? For a few bucks? To travel the world on my company’s dime? Not interested. My kids are grown and I’ve considered doing it to accelerate my retirement date with the extra cash. But, nah. Still not interested. Besides, the whole airport, rental car, hotel, work carousel is exhausting. I don’t know how anyone does it for more than a few months.

  51. Big Daddy Bobo says:

    Joe when I was 50 I was faced with a similar career decision. Like you I took the path that led to more time with my family and working on the things that I love most. It was the most rewarding decision I have ever made. Good luck to you and I look forward to reading more about baseball.

  52. Edwin says:

    This is, by far, the best news from 2016 (at least for me).

  53. Steve says:

    Awesome news Joe! Your baseball writing has always been my favourite stuff of yours – can’t wait to see what’s in store.

  54. Congratulations to you, and even more, to us, because we get to read you writing about baseball.

    By the way, you referred to some things besides baseball. What is this football? What is, uh, golf? Baseball is the only sport I’ve ever heard of.

  55. SDG says:

    Adding my congratulations. I love your baseball writing. I cam to baseball fandom late in life, in the last few years (I’m one of those people who didn’t grow up with it at all) and your writing, here and on twitter and on your old blog, is some of the best I’ve ever read. And you’re such a good writer I even read what you write on sports I completely don’t care about.

    I hope you update us soon with where you end up writing. (And selfishly asking for more Poscasts with you and Michael Schur. That’s my workout music).

  56. blazon says:

    Joe…

    A fan…rightly or wrongly i have always assumed two things about your recent career path. One, you were horribly compromised through no fault of your own by the whole Paterno mess. The timing could not have been worse – large check already in the bank, living on campus, close to the family then invective pouring in on your subject’s head.
    No win.

    Two, the recent past culminating in what you have written today. For many weeks the blogs had been sporadic it seemed, unpredictable, uneven. Then you threw a switch and suddenly there they were, sometimes two in the same day. Tell me i’m wrong but i interpreted that volte face then, and certainly now, as an attempt to restore your credibility. And get a new job offer. I am delighted it appears to have succeeded.

    Baseball. Joe P. Yes please.

    • invitro says:

      So the HoF series has been a portfolio for a new job? Huh. Could be! I imagine anyone who employs a baseball writer would have to hire Joe after reading that series.

  57. Pat Buck says:

    Joe, as so many others have said, your writing, the style and your wonderful way with hyperbole, is fantastic. Everything you write, you pour yourself into. But you can tell just how much passion and love is inside of you when you write about either baseball or your family. Awe-inspiring? Sure. Heart warming? Absolutely. To read something and feel the emotion in every word is magical.

    Let’s also not forget that you’ve overwhelmingly been voted the official writer of the OBEM (Outdoor Baseball Extravaganza and Massacree…in five part harmony), so any extra posts about baseball are fuel for our fire.

  58. Dan says:

    I’ve been wondering when that NBC gig would come to an end. Their SportsWorld section has been completely dead, other than Joe posts, for ages.

  59. […] Event TonightPearl Harbor Child//cdn.embedly.com/widgets/platform.jsThe World According To JoPoLife//cdn.embedly.com/widgets/platform.jsAnd this is the OPEN THREAD for tonight . . […]

  60. Rick says:

    “Grown up Version”, I think not. Your writing always brings out the child in me and I am much better for it. Keep the family stories sprinkled in though.

  61. Mark Daniel says:

    I echo the above sentiments. I hope this blog becomes my go-to website whenever I have a free minute to surf the web. It used to be that way. Right now Slickdeals is where I go first, which is rewarding in its own way, but it’s not the same at all.

  62. SEb says:

    I like the idea about you writing stories about Cleveland Indians baseball

  63. SEb says:

    It’s 5PM now

  64. Boxcar Billy says:

    Joe, I usually only post to critique something but today is an exception — this is great news! And what a wonderful way for you to tell us. Once baseball is lodged in your heart, there’s no getting it out. Several doctors have tried and am glad they failed.

  65. jdn says:

    Congratulations! I look forward to your new venture, wherever it is.

  66. KHAZAD says:

    I became a Posnanski fan when he came to the Kansas City Star. I enjoyed all his columns, but even then, when I opened to the sports page, I always hoped that day’s column would be about baseball. I thought it was you strongest subject then and still do today.

    For those who worry this will mean the end of some other subjects, I don’t think it will. Joe said he would be writing about baseball FOR A LIVING. This is not his living, it is his outlet, and we reap the benefits, family style. Oh sure, he will link to his articles to drive traffic. (I will wager that a large percentage of NBC sports traffic as it died came from people on this site.) But I think we will still get the heartwarming family stories, the childhood memories, the occasional infomercial analysis, the odes to greats who have recently passed, the frustration of following the Browns, tennis stories, etc.

    Good luck with your new endeavor Joe.

  67. Chris Witt says:

    So my favorite sportswriter is now exclusively writing about my favorite game? I am over the moon. Looking forward to this, Joe Poz.

  68. Tim Burnell says:

    Joe, you’re my favorite sportswriter writing about my favorite sport. You wrote one of my favorite sports’ books. When I read your articles, columns and blog posts I sometimes find myself thinking “this is what I was kinda-sorta trying to think” but, you pull it together, beautifully and sometimes poetically. Congratulations! Can’t wait to see the next chapter.

  69. invitro says:

    I still dream of becoming a rock star.

  70. Mark Swiencki says:

    That’s good for you and all your “Brilliant Readers”
    Your baseball writing always had a little extra.

  71. Rick Rodstrom says:

    Houdini couldn’t hit the curveball either.

    Congrats Joe. I’m happy for you, and happy for me, and happy for baseball, that such a brilliant writer would dedicate his art to enlivening the great game.

  72. Mark says:

    Best wishes on your continued success. Loved your writing from the time I first read your columns in the Star.

  73. Michael C Lorah says:

    Congratulations, Joe. Wonderful news (especially since I don’t follow non-baseball sports – I hope this means more of your work for me to read!).

    Like probably all of us, I had the same baseball dreams when I was a kid. I was going to take over as the Phillies third baseman when Mike Schmidt retired. Of course, he retired when I was only 13, so the transition was off by several years! And it turned out I couldn’t hit much of anything.

    But even now, age 40, the glimmer of a baseball-playing daydream flitters across my mind sometimes. It’s a powerful magic.

    And I do take a certain childhood glee in being the third baseman on my softball team and taking on that Schmidt-like role as defensive stalwart and middle-order bat. Turns out I can hit pretty well, if the ball’s twice as large and moving a lot slower!

  74. Matt Vandermast says:

    Congratulations, Joe! Thanks for everything, and best wishes for all you do.

  75. […] He wrote about a myriad of subjects while at NBC. Now, Posnanski has decided three years is enough. He’s announced in a post on his own website that he has decided to leave the Peacock and starting in January, he’ll be […]

  76. BobDD says:

    maybe you couldn’t hit a curve, but you can still throw ’em

  77. dw says:

    Great news, good luck, and I look forward to more stories. You’re the best.

  78. Steve says:

    That was my dream as well. Now I’m a retired teacher playing golf every day, which is exactly what I’d be doing if I had been a centerfielder for the Mets. Very satisfying thought.

  79. Crout says:

    I am a chronic cardiac patient laying in a hospital bed and you just gave me the best news I’ve had all week. Thank you.

  80. Tampa Mike says:

    That’s awesome Joe! I’ve always felt your baseball writing is your best stuff. I used to always look forward to the annual Royals are going to the World Series column.

  81. Rob says:

    Congrats Joe, very happy for you, one of the few who gets to live their dream. I envy you so. Looking forward to a few words on the Tigers here and there. If you come to town let me know we would be happy to host and provide a home cooked meal.

  82. rabidtiger says:

    Even as a Tigers fan since the 1950’s, I say you have given me the best early Christmas present you could think of, even if you were trying to think of one. Hooray!

  83. Cubs69Cubs16 says:

    I will follow my favorite blogger wherever he writes next!

  84. duffy01 says:

    Great! I hope this means you are going back to the KC Star.

  85. Cuban X Senators says:

    OMG, the A’s are moving to Charlotte?

    Or you’re covering the Charlotte Knights — I’d actually find that to be quite fun to read.

  86. Jon W says:

    OK, fine, whatever. But when are you going to finish the iPad review? 🙂

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