Listen: A new story from The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap
"APP. Here's Jeremy Sheff. He's been uncovering sports as a newspaper. Man For nearly seventy years at he is still at it. One of legendary figures in the annals of Sports Journalism Sports Writing Sports reporting and he was just enshrined in his sixteenth hall of fame in some ways. This might be the most meaningful of them all New Jersey Hall of fame because he is the quintessential the consummate Gordon. Stater is a pleasure to welcome back back to the sporting life. The one the only Jerry Izenberg is very kind of you. You understand it a little bit but that's very kind you. Would you like me to pile it on some more. Jerry that makes I know the crew tobacco let it go now. Now now jared in all seriousness in the New Jersey Hall all of Fame That's a big deal. You know you're a big deal. That's a big deal. For instance. I happen to know the James J braddock. Only the heavyweight champion of the world is not the New Jersey Hall of fame but you are now a member of the hall of fame along with Frank Sinatra Buzz Aldrin. And all the other greats what. This honor means Hugh after having been honored in so many different ways by so many different organizations oil on AOL. They asked me to write appreciation of paper. We try did a long piece about about what it means to me and I remarked at my first memory of New Jersey We should Beth Israel Hospital September tenth. Nineteen thirty Dr. We very cold. Kohl anti-israel Newark. I was just a few months ago for Matt Millen. That's where he got his heart transplant. Well okay so that doctor was very cold kids. Turn me upside down. Let me on the issue should really refers you could learn to survive advice as I'm yes. I almost stepped on the punchline Jerry but not quite I apologize. We've we've been doing this for a long time. I keep stepping on the punch line's now I should say I don't want to embarrass you here. But your career is a testament not only to your literary sensibility your journalistic listed instincts Your unerring sense of fairness in what really matters But also just to your your determination Herman nation to keep doing it when when everybody else pretty much from your generation either You know he's no longer with us a he or retired. What keeps you going still writing? What in the World Venom along they do? You don't know you're very nice Sherry inside of me but I will tell you this. I am so the angry about the destruction of the English language because I used to teach at Rutgers Newark would teach at the other place and all oh show at the new school wait what have you got against the piscataway campus with New Brunswick. They're they're they're the they are. The shelf built build up on the Newark campus. I went to school. He's not a campus. I I went to school in an abandoned razor Brewery and There was no campus it. We had taken Newark University over like four years earlier and I got the best education I could everybody in school. School had a job. I worked forty hours. We night in a chemical plant for three years ago You gotta remember born in Nineteen thirty and know these days if you were born in nineteen thirty four. They said you're going to college. You went of course. She didn't give me two quarters but I had to go so that was what's the deal there but I I started to say I tell my students you know every day. English is degraded like we. Couldn't they talk about Louis Qualities of Italian they talk about Spanish with gestures and stuff like that and frank with the subdued in AH inferences. English is their best language in the world and I told him every day you kids. Weaver torn and battled and bleeding on the battlefield and the next day they got up to fight again. And that's one of my mind my real I'm tired of people show where you know you used biblical references. I don't know what they are. Well can either get religion or get a dictionary one or the other. I'm not GonNa you know we're we're going to have to believe that you are not you gain weight. You can do whatever you want. We're speaking with the one and only Jerry Izenberg long time. And I mean Longtime Sports Columnist The Star Ledger of Newark. Those really in the know never say the Newark star-ledger it's The star of Newark Jerry. When I think of the the scope the arc in your career? It's not just about that appreciation in mastery of English language but it is about that that Instinct linked for the big story for being ahead of the curve for not being a follower Whether we're talking about Breaking the color line in the American League Way You know you covered your friend. Larry Doby obviously you were still in college when he broke the color line in nineteen forty the American I was yes I was working papers do now. You talked about your appreciation of the English language and I know that much of it came from one of your first bosses legendary Stanley Woodward who had been at the Herald Tribune and then at the Star Ledger. When I was starting off in this business my hi dad gave me sports? Page Woodward's book. You got the real thing the man in person. What kind of influence did he have on you? Everything everything taste shelby he went back to the tribute in triumph life and he took me with him from Newark for three years. And then I left and went home but I I would tell you. The Greatest Experience Guy Sports editor who has seven years before and three of Latin and Greek at college who played football when he was legally blind for four years amherst or Williams. I can't remember He think Williams No Williams kinda about even he played I wherever it was always a complimentary education and I asks him one day and Stamina. You could hardly she the guy in front of you. Those years he got he got an operation and similar healed and I should. How did you survive should? Oh I got a softball. CATCHER's mask put electricity tape all around it or I should choose a guy. Couldn't break his hand out. He said Yeah. Good that was my Stanley. Stanley would watch called me home from my first free training. I wish show frigate import in. Oh I'M GONNA go to Spring in training and my dad a minor league ball player. I was trying to cover the giants where he never got an and he was happy. I was shopping and I got out two to three days or phone readings. He should I WanNa see that they were on my office. I said well I'm not done yet. You're done if you don't come in my the hell I did. I flew in. He walked he sat down and said all right. Now who's got to play third base. I praise for the giants third base the second base. I got it right there. I said well we don't notice seven kid that it's really good question. He said I know the question. I mean as you for the answer and I I don't no no. You should listen. I don't give a damn it. Deterrents are training within nine miles of the lowest. Dutchman's mine. I I don't give a damn about the sunset and and the desert stop writing that crap. Don't you just Oh shit on the dish and I'll tell so you think you're able to write again. He kept me there for three much. I never forgot her and then I just surrendered and then one day. I came into work and he shouldn't be like a new assignment. I Shit wet new shining. He said well I like the fact that I have forgiving. You College basketball I should really you should. Yeah you should go look at it so I look at their release posted on time and I said wow I said you know I can't think of it necessarily but I do have a question. He should what your question. Well you didn't say college basketball you say what do you want me to do. We should look. I hire people because I think they will know what to do if they didn't know what to do. And I get rid of them now. If you don't like a dog standing I'll be glad to do it He said let me tell you something going in so you don't ask this question again. I have great contempt for any game. Were grown men were short pets sooner not allowed to hit each other. You go cover basketball Stanley. Would I looked it up jerry by the way was an amherst graduate graduate school. You're right either way though he was People looking up all the time in order to catch me but but I really uh standing taught me every you know what you want to think Shanley taught me when not to write. Look at the Internet today. You anybody it's everybody exposed to that. Oh I got to get facetime I gotta get the story. I got an files now fifteen times a day that shit and somebody said to me I you you never use nexus. You know you never check on the payer. You could save yourself a lot of time. I said let me tell you something. What happens if you make a mistake the issue I don't know well I know it lose forever so I don't really intend to quote you later on where you were wrong? All the time she'll forget it I do my own work. We're speaking to Jerry Izenberg who this week was enshrined in the New Jersey Hall Hall of fame one of the legendary figures from the world of sports writing over the course of the last seventy years. Jerry it's serendipitous in a way that we we're speaking today October thirtieth twenty nineteen forty five years to the day after one of the most consequential to quench events ever in sports you were there on the banks of the Congo River in Kinshasa then at the time known as Zaire now Congo Looking back forty five years later to that epic Victory Muhammad Ali. What's what sticks with you? Well for one thing I'll tell you one thing about it didn't care who is Friday near I was going to go because the ring was pitched about five miles from where Stanley met Livingston Rich. And that's if you want to write I didn't realize it was that I didn't realize it was in near Kinshasa that was right there close to the Atlantic I figured it was somewhere somewhere deeper in the continent but you know they were the ocean. You didn't find him on the ocean. He on a river. No No. I'm just saying I thought. They were hundreds of miles lyles from the Congo River. All right we're always called Zaire River in the battle for a test city by dictator booth says she But you know for me. It was a it was a life. Changing experience in many ways I I always back from the Korean War and Many years back in fact but I saw."