Bob Ryan – Biographical Brief
Robert "Bob" P. Ryan (born February 21, 1946 in Trenton) is a sportswriter for The Boston Globe. He has been described as "the quintessential American sportswriter" and a basketball guru and is well known for his coverage of the sport including his famous stories covering the Boston Celtics in the 1970s. After graduating from Boston College, Ryan started as a sports intern for the Globe on the same day as Peter Gammons, and later worked with other Globe sports writing legends Will McDonough and Leigh Montville. Ryan announced in early 2012 his retirement from sports writing after 44 years once the 2012 Olympic Games concluded. His final column in the Boston Globe was published August 12, 2012.
Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Ryan grew up in a house, "that revolved around going to games" and went to high school at the Lawrenceville School from 1960 to 1964. He graduated from Boston College as a history major in 1968. Ryan and his wife Elaine have a daughter Jessica, and a son Keith who died in 2008. They are grandparents of triplets. They have been married since 1969. Today, Ryan lives in Hingham, Massachusetts. The dedication page in Forty Eight Minutes, one of Ryan`s books, says, "To Elaine Ryan: In the next life, maybe you`ll get a nine-to-five man who makes seven figures." Ryan has also done humanitarian fundraisers for years to help inner-city teenagers with their educations.
On January 28, 2008 his 37 year old son Keith, was found dead in his home in Islamabad, Pakistan. Initial reports indicated that his death was an apparent suicide, however reports in the Pakistani newspapers Dawn and The News International indicated that Ryan`s death may be investigated as a murder. A State Department spokesperson would only say the death was under investigation. Bob Ryan released the following statement: "Everyone is devastated. I am well aware of these reports and we are very concerned about that. (But) we have no reason at this time to doubt the official version".
Keith had been working in Pakistan since December 2006 as an attache for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Keith was a 1988 graduate of Hingham High School, Trinity College, the London School of Economics and Boston College Law School. He had previously worked for the U.S. Border Patrol and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, where he was assigned to the violent gang task force. Keith was married to Kate and had three children, Conor, John, and Amelia, who live in Silver Spring, Maryland.
In the fall of 1969 a vacancy on the Globe`s Celtics beat was created, and Ryan got the job. While covering the Celtics, Ryan developed a close relationship with the Celtics organization. Ryan would even go out to dinner with the team. Ryan sat at the press table 8 seats from the Celtics` bench, where colleagues referred to him as the "Commissioner", not unlike Peter Gammons`s nickname. Boston Sports Media critic Bruce Allen has said, "His passion is not faked."
One night Hue Hollins, the referee, went to the press table to explain a call to Ryan during a time-out even though he was not obligated to. Another time Ryan wrote a column about the Washington Bullets` Rick Mahorn and how he played dirty under the hoop. When Mahorn was called for a foul Gene Shue, the Bullets` coach, turned around and said, "That`s your fault, Bob Ryan, your fault!" Dennis Johnson was often annoyed with Ryan and would go up to the press table and say, "Hey, Bob, keep it down. We got a game going on here" when Ryan sideline coached. From Ryan`s first column on Larry Bird headlined "Celtics draft Bird for oh what a future" to his last "Larry! Larry! Larry!" Ryan was always a fan of his and eventually co-authored a book with him.
In Tom (Tommy) Heinsohn`s book Give `em the Hook, Heinsohn is negative towards Ryan. Ryan, who began writing for the Globe in Heinsohn`s rookie season as a coach, would make friends with the players and vent their feelings towards Heinsohn, their fans, and their teammates, claims Heinsohn. Heinsohn didn`t like how he didn`t feel in control of his team. Heinsohn believes that Ryan started to "think of himself as another member of the family" and that he even started coaching the team through his beat stories. Heinsohn goes on to talk about Ryan`s bloated ego and the fact that he was then thinking of himself as a basketball guru. Heinsohn also says while noting disapproval of Ryan that at the time anyone who lived in Boston and even remotely followed basketball read Bob Ryan. In recent years Ryan has been less critical of Celtics coaches, including Doc Rivers, of whom he said, "I`m a Doc guy."
In 1982 Ryan would hand the torch of the Globe Celtics beat to then-not well known Dan Shaughnessy, and later Jackie MacMullan. He did this in order to go to WCVB for a couple of years. Ryan ended up hating it and moved back to the Celtics beat in 1984 for two more seasons before getting promoted to general sports columnist in 1989.
Ryan would cover 20 NBA finals, 20 Final Fours, 9 World Series, five Super Bowls, the last 7 Olympics and many other events. In recent times Ryan has become less basketball-oriented and more general sports-oriented. He has also written for the Basketball Times. Ryan votes for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
At 60, Ryan wants his retirement from the job to be graceful: "I’m not bitter. I enjoy my job and I still think I do it well, but they are chipping away, chipping away and they are making it far less pleasurable. I want to get out when I feel like getting out. If you stay around too long, there is no way you can dictate your terms," he said. Ryan also asked, "How do you explain to Stephen A. Smith that he has no idea of the game and how much fun it was? He thinks he knows everything, but he will never know what I know about the Celtics."
On February 14, 2012, during a podcast with Bill Simmons on Grantland.com, Ryan announced that he would retire after the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Said Ryan, "I really and truly believe that my time has come and gone; that the dynamics of the business, of what it takes, what it means to be involved in the sports business with all the Tweeting and the blogging and all the stuff, and an audience with a different taste - it`s not me anymore. I`m not comfortable." Ryan indicated that he would stay involved with sports in a part-time capacity after retirement, but is not interested in continuing at the pace he does now. Ryan`s last day as a Red Sox reporter was July 16, 2012.
Ryan`s final column in the Boston Globe was published August 12, 2012. He will remain columnist emeritus and write on a part-time basis. He also will remain on ESPN`s Around the Horn.
- Dick Schaap Award for Outstanding Journalism recipient in 2006.
- In 1996 Ryan won the Curt Gowdy Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame.
- In 2000 he was the AP National Sportswriter of the Year.
- He has been named the NSSA’s National Sportswriter of the Year four times (2000, 2007, 2008, 2009).
- He is also a member of the College Basketball Writers and New England Basketball Halls of Fame.
Ryan is a regular guest on radio; some of his appearances on the radio include:
- The Bob Ryan Report on Loren and Wally (WROR-FM): Every Thursday morning at 7:50 a.m. he goes on to give his opinion about Boston sports.
- Ryan contributes to Michael Felger`s show. He used to contribute to Dennis and Callahan on WEEI.
- Roundtable (featuring Ryan) on NPR`s On Point to talk about the decline in basketball viewership.
- Bob is a weekly contributor to the "Marty and Miller" radio program on KXNO in Des Moines, Iowa.
- The Tony Kornheiser Show; Ryan has appeared on the first episode of most of Kornheiser`s show incarnations. Kornheiser calls Ryan "the quintessential American sportswriter".
- Ryan is also a frequent guest host on ESPN`s Pardon the Interruption and guest on The Sports Reporters.
- He is a regular contributor on the show Around the Horn.
- In addition Bill Simmons has called him "the best basketball writer ever." Paul Silas joked on Cold Pizza while Ryan was a guest, that all Bob Ryan`s success was due to him.
- Wait Till I Make the Show: Baseball in the Minor Leagues (1974)
- Celtics pride: The rebuilding of Boston`s world championship basketball team (1975)
- The Pro Game: The World of Professional Basketball (1975)
- Hondo: Celtic Man in Motion (1977) coauthored with John Havlicek
- Forty Eight Minutes (1987) with Terry Pluto
- Cousy on the Celtic Mystique (1988) coauthored with Bob Cousy
- Drive: The Story of My Life (1989) coauthored with Larry Bird
- Boston Celtics: The History, Legends, and Images of America`s Most Celebrated Team (1990)
- The Four Seasons (1997)
- The Road to the Super Bowl (1997)
- A Day of Light and Shadows (2000) Only introduction
- When Boston Won the World Series: A Chronicle of Boston`s Remarkable Victory in the First Modern World Series of 1903 (2004) released before Red Sox victory
- The Best of Sport: Classic Writing from the Golden Era of Sports (2005)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bob Ryan through the years
Bob Ryan’s Final Column
Day One did not begin well. En route to the Globe for my first day asForty-four years later, I’m still here, which is truly remarkable.
How many columnists on a major American daily newspaper have spent their entire journalistic lives with one newspaper? The answer is close to zero. But why would I want to go anywhere else?
By the way, that first day quickly got better. When I finally arrived at the paper for my first day of summer employment, the first person I met was a fellow 1968 Globe summer sports intern. It was a North Carolina Tar Heel named Peter Gammons. We’ve been friends ever since.
When I was a student at Boston College and a fervent newspaper reader, my fantasy was to work for the Boston Globe. It became a case of Mission Accomplished, with every reasonable wish fulfilled. Now it is time to step aside, though not completely out of sight. When I hit the “send” button on my gold medal basketball game column, I will cease to be a full-time employee of the only newspaper I have ever worked for after graduating from college. But let’s not call it “retirement.” I choose to call it “Transition to Phase Two.”
Joe Sullivan, who among his other distinctions is the only sports editor I have worked for who loves and knows more about college basketball than I do, has graciously asked me to remain as a Sunday contributor for 30-40 times a year. But make no mistake: I’m stepping aside from full-time duty. Post-Olympics, I will have covered my last event and written my last deadline story for the paper that has been my home for 44 years.
It is a totally different sports journalism world from the one I first inhabited.
When I began in 1968, we used typewriters, and copy, both from local venues and the road, was sent via Western Union. There were at least three middlemen between me and the reader. Now there is one. The technological advances border on science fiction for the 1968 mind. I could have sent this column via my BlackBerry were it necessary. When I started, there was no such thing as “call waiting.” Forget about cellphones. Beepers were in the future.
The people I worked with, and so admired, included thorough professionals, many of whom had been born between 1900 and 1920. Two of them, the great columnist Harold Kaese and the pioneer basketball writer Jack Barry (who covered the first Celtics practice in 1946 and was the first person to formulate the concept of the turnover) never learned to drive a car. Desk men had fistfights over glue pots. Just about everybody smoked, and a startling percentage of working sportswriters in this town were either reformed or functional alcoholics.
For the likes of Gammons and Ryan, the Boston Globe was the place to be. Tom Winship was the editor, and because of him, the Boston Globe was that rarity among American dailies: a writer’s paper, not, as were most papers then (and, sadly, some even now), an editor’s paper.
In those days, the Globe still had separate morning and evening editions. Fran Rosa was the morning sports editor. Ernie Roberts ran the Evening Globe. Jerry Nason, who had been with the paper since the late ’30s-early ’40s, was the Executive Sports Editor and he still wrote six (6) columns a week. What those three had in common was a commitment to writers, especially young ones.
Gammons and Ryan were allowed to go crazy, to be creative. When we needed reining in, there were watchful desk men such as Art Keefe to lend advice. But we were always encouraged to swing for the fences, with our particular points of view, about baseball, basketball, football, anything.
The Old Guard was often quite amused. One of our colleagues was the acerbic Clif Keane, a figure who would have no place in today’s scheme of things, which is modern journalism’s loss. Apprised that the bosses were considering having Peter cover the Red Sox for the Morning Globe and me for the Evening Globe, Keane sneered, “Oh, that’ll be great. Gammons will write about wars and symphonies, and Ryan will complain about the umpires.”
Clif was a larger-than-life figure, as was Roger Birtwell, a veteran baseball writer whom I nicknamed the “Dash King.” I had never seen a man use so many dashes. Roger was famous for padding (in bedroom slippers) into the Fenway press box in the fifth inning or so, saying, “Fill me in, boys.” When he discovered I had been born and raised in Trenton, N.J., he asked me if the Hotel Hildebrecht was still there. I said yes. He informed me that’s where he would stay while covering Harvard-Princeton football games in the ’20s.
Roger had known Ruth, Cobb, Hornsby, etc. He may even have known Cap Anson. Talk about minute degrees of separation.
Oh my God, John Ahern. Famous for three changes of clothes daily at Newport during an America’s Cup, or even at Swampscott. A beautiful blazer. A straw boater. A cigar. A name dropper supreme (don’t get him started about Marciano). He used to say to me, “Bobby boy, don’t ever read your own stuff.” I couldn’t understand that. I related more to Jimmy Breslin, who used to say that one of his great thrills was being on the New York subway and sitting next to someone who was reading his column (no picture).
And Bud Collins . . . what can I say, other than no man could have been more helpful and encouraging to a young colleague than Bud Collins. And let me tell you something else. No one has ever written better columns for this paper than Bud Collins, and I’m talking baseball, basketball, boxing, football, among others, not just tennis.
That’s saying a lot, because what matters most to me as I wind down my association with this great newspaper is that I firmly believe I have been a member of a true All-Star team in sports journalism for the entire 44 years. We tend to judge sports figures by the number of championship rings they have been fortunate enough to accumulate. I want to be judged by the people I’ve worked with. Lists are dangerous, because someone obvious invariably is left off. So I won’t risk that. Just appreciate that I have been in a killer lineup for 44 years.
But one person does deserve special note. There are some great women in our business, but I don’t know of anyone who has matched Jackie MacMullan’s feat of going toe-to-toe with the boys in terms of attaining top-level credibility while not sacrificing a shred of femininity. She is the ultimate role model for any young woman.
I do want it known that I have spent 44 years doing it from the heart. I have never once written to provoke or to attract attention. I have always done what has come naturally, which doesn’t mean it’s always been right. No one is right all the time.
So why now? It’s time; that’s all. I’ve covered the events I wanted to cover. I reached a goal with the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run in 2011 to have covered championships in all four primary pro sports. I’ve covered 29 Final Fours. London has been my 11th Olympics. I even did a dog show. I am fulfilled.
But there is something else. I occasionally come across some things I wrote years ago, and I say to myself, “I did that?” And I know in my heart I really couldn’t match that effort today. That’s all a writer needs to know.
My goal is to gain personal life flexibility and to eliminate obligation. I still have the Globe part-time gig and I still have a bit more TV shelf life, how much I really don’t know. I want to do what I want to do and not do what I don’t want to do. And my wife of 43 years, the former Elaine Murray, is the perfect companion with whom to do or not do whatever it is we’re going to do or not do.
See me in a year or so. I’ll let you know how it’s working out.