Curt Smith – Biographical Brief
Curt Smith is America’s leading baseball radio/TV historian: to USA Today, “the voice of authority on baseball broadcasting.” He also wrote more speeches than anyone for former President George H.W. Bush. Bob Costas says: “Curt Smith stands up for the beauty of words.”
Smith hosts the National Public Radio affiliate series Perspectives, Associated Press and the New York Broadcasting Association having voted his commentary “Best in New York State.” He is also Senior Lecturer of English at the University of Rochester – and a columnist for Gatehouse Media, Major League Baseball’s official web site MLBlog.com, and Jewish World Review’s PoliticalMavens.com.
Smith’s 15 books include Voices of The Game, What Baseball Means To Me, The Voice, The Storytellers, and Long Time Gone. Other recent book essays include the memoir as art, 32 greatest Presidential speeches, 32 greatest TV/film Presidential portrayals, 1959 White Sox, 1960 Pirates, 1969 Mets, and the keynote chapter on media in Cambridge University’s The Cambridge Companion to Baseball.
Raised in Upstate New York, Smith was a Gannett reporter, Speechwriter for Presidential candidate John Connally, and The Saturday Evening Post senior editor before joining the Bush White House in 1989. He wrote the 41st President’s “Just War” Persian Gulf speech, Margaret Thatcher Medal of Freedom address, and speech abroad the USS Missouri on Pearl Harbor’s 50th anniversary. The New York Times terms his work “the high point of Bush familial eloquence.”
Leaving the White House in 1993, Smith headed the ex-President’s speech staff, writing Bush’s moving 2004 eulogy to President Reagan. He has keynoted the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, hosted Smithsonian Institution and XM Satellite Radio Baseball Hall of Fame series, spoken at the Great Fenway Writers Series, and helped write and produce ESPN’s Voices of The Game. The latter titlehas become shorthand for baseball radio/TV.
Smith has written for, among others, the Boston Globe, Newsweek, New York Times, Reader’s Digest, and Sports Illustrated -- and appeared on such network radio/TV programs as ABC’s Nightline; BBC; CBS This Morning; CNN, ESPN, and MSNBC TV; Fox News Channel; History Channel; Mutual Radio with Jim Bohannon; and Radio America..
The State University of New York at Geneseo alumnus has been named among the SUNY system’s “100 Outstanding Alumni.” He is a member of the Judson Welliver Society of ex-White House speechwriters; Baseball Hall of Fame Ford Frick Award committee; and National Radio Hall of Fame committee, creating its Franklin D. Roosevelt Award in Political Communication. Smith joined the University of Rochester faculty in 1999. He lives with his wife and two children in Upstate New York.
About the Book
Mercy! was Boston Red Sox announcer Ned Martin`s signature phrase for a surpassing moment between or beyond the lines. It also hails Fenway Park’s centennial through Red Sox radio/television broadcasters recalling and commemorating an American institution.
Mercy! is three stories in one: Fenway Park’s, the Olde Towne Team’s, and its mikemen.
Martin quoted Faulkner and Thoreau. Curt Gowdy denoted quality and courtesy. Ken Coleman played his voice like a violin. Other Red Sox announcers include Bob Murphy, Jim Woods, Ken Harrelson, Dick Stockton, Jon Miller, Sean McDonough, Joe Castiglione, Dave O`Brien, Don Orsillo, and Jerry Remy. In 2004, when the Sox won their first World Series since 1918, Castiglione asked Red Sox Nation: “Can you believe it?” Many can`t, even now.
Author Curt Smith – to USA, “the voice of authority on baseball broadcasting” – is a lifelong Soxaphile and student of America’s “Most Beloved Ballpark.” Mercy!’s highlights include Gowdy’s mid-century prepotency; how Vin Scully might have been the Sox, not Dodgers, Voice; Martin and Woods becoming perhaps radio’s best-ever duo; their infamous 1978 firing; and Fenway Park’s seamless last-decade $285 million renovation – New England’s cathedral, rebuilt pew by pew.
Mercy! weaves players from Carl Yastrzemski to David Ortiz, pre-World War II Voices like Fred Hoey and Jim Britt, and Fenway’s ongoing big-league record 712-game sellout streak. Riveting is Smith’s portrayal of Sox fans like A. Bartlett Giamatti, Doris Kearns Goodwin, James Q. Wilson, George H.W. Bush, and Michael Dukakis. Bush etches his reverence for friend Ted Williams: to Smith, No. 9 conquering a crowd “like Caesar taking Gaul.” In 2001, Dukakis told the visionary soon-to-be Sox president Larry Lucchino: “Anyone who would tear down Fenway Park should be criminally indicted.”
Bush opposed Dukakis in the 1988 Presidential election. Mercy! brings them together, showing how the Sox are special. It includes play-by-play, forty photos, one anecdote after another, and three detailed appendixes, telling Fenway’s story – hailing its centennial -- as perhaps no other book has.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR MERCY!
“My good friend Curt Smith is a marvelous writer, as this terrific centennial salute to Fenway Park shows. Here is the history of Fenway, the Red Sox, players like my hero and dear friend Ted Williams, and great broadcasters like Curt Gowdy – all in one book. Reading, you will grasp why baseball, my favorite team sport, is so beloved.”
-- George H.W. Bush
“This is an extraordinary book, and for those of us who grew up with the Red Sox, starting back when Tom Yawkey bought the team, it is more than extraordinary. The Red Sox announcers were THE Voices of the team. We’ve had lots of books about the Red Sox. This one takes it to a whole new level.”
-- Michael Dukakis
“Firmly established as baseball broadcasting’s top historian and chronicler, Curt Smith has expertly researched and documented those of us entrusted to be the eyes and ears of Red Sox Nation. He beautifully captures the essence of being a Red Sox fan – and why Fenway Park is ‘America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.’”
-- Joe Castiglione, Radio Voice, Boston Red Sox
“Mercy! is a grand evocation of the history of the Red Sox told through the voices that called and amplified the games for us from the broadcasting booth. Smith’s style – punchy and laden with wonderful quotations – is a perfect fit for this truly remarkable broadcast history.”
-- Paul Dickson, Author, Bill Veeck – Baseball’s Greatest Maverick
“Curt Smith is simply one of the best baseball historians ever. His love of the Red Sox makes this a must-read for any fan of the Olde Towne Team. Like the Cubs, the Sox play in an iconic park, have an immense fan base, and know legendary heartbreak. This book shows why, to some, baseball history is even more sublime than baseball present.”
-- Pat Hughes, Radio Voice, Chicago Cubs
“Curt Smith displays an amazing awareness of why Red Sox mikemen are revered as electronic family members, enhancing baseball with their words, tones, and comments. His use of actual play-by-play to complement game action adds a powerful dimension. Terrific insight and research forge absolute can’t-put-down reading.”
-- Bob Wolff, America’s longest-running sportscaster
“Esteemed author Curt Smith has homered again – his treasure trove of anecdotes creating a poignant and humorous valentine to baseball’s most beloved park. Kudos to the Red Sox for not buckling under the economic pressures to vacate this sacred ground. And kudos to Smith for taking this unique approach to telling the story of the Fens.
-- Scott Pitoniak, Author, Memories of Yankee Stadium
“Curt Smith brings two great New England passions alive as only he can: history, and Red Sox baseball on radio and television. Mercy! is a wonderful walk down memory lane with each, artfully chronicling the Olde Towne Team’s legacy. An immensely artful and enjoyable book.”
-- Dave O’Brien,
Radio Voice, Boston Red Sox