Joe Posnanski is a Senior Writer for Sports Illustrated.
He also writes extensively on his personal site, Joe Blogs.
He has also has authored 3 books.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview for the members of Baseball Nation.
Q: Baseball Nation - How did you get involved in sports journalism?
A: Joe Posnanski - When I was in college, and had no idea what I wanted to do, I sent out a bunch of letters to people in different fields. One of the letters I sent out to was to the sports editor of The Charlotte Observer, the newspaper in my hometown. He wrote back with the opportunity to cover a local high school game for 20 bucks. I loved it. And that was that.
Q: Baseball Nation - Do you have any advice to young writers aspiring to be a sports journalist?
A: Joe Posnanski - My biggest piece of advice is to read as much as you can. Read everything. Read sports. Read fiction. Read history. Read science. There are so many things that come from reading -- knowledge is one of the big things, but the other is seeing how well words fit together. When you come upon a sentence or paragraph you like, re-read it, figure out why you like it. Why is it funny? Why does it make you mad? And so on. A young writer should write as much as she can, and should find a harsh editor who will break down the work. But reading, I think, is more important than anything else.
Q: Baseball Nation - What to you has been your most interesting piece of work?
A: Joe Posnanski - I don't know that I can come up with any one thing. I spent a year with Buck O'Neil for a book, and that was the most rewarding thing I've ever done as a writer. But to me the most important quality for a journalist is curiosity. Every kind of story should seem interesting to you. A couple of weeks ago, I went on a 10,000-mile baseball trip and that was incredible. But it ended, and this past week I wrote about the Pittsburgh Pirates, and that was every bit as interesting as the baseball trip. I think one of the biggest hurdles for a young writer to overcome is that feeling that there are "good stories" to write and "bad stories" to write. The stories are as good as you make them.
Q: Baseball Nation - Speaking of Buck O'Neil, what do you think his HOF chances are?
A: Joe Posnanski - I don't think Buck will ever go to the Hall of Fame now. But I've made peace with that -- I wished that he could have been elected and inducted while he was still alive. That didn't happen. Now there's a statue of Buck in the front of the museum in Cooperstown, there's an award given out in his honor, he will be remembered. And that's what matters to me.
Q: Baseball Nation - What drew you to writing about the Reds for your second book?
A: Joe Posnanski - I wanted to write about baseball from my childhood. And those Reds dominated my childhood. I was fascinated in the characters -- Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and the rest. But it was how they call came together to make one of the best teams in baseball history that made it a fun book project.
Q: Baseball Nation - How would you fix the HOF voting process?
A: Joe Posnanski - I don't think the process needs to be fixed. I disagree with a lot that goes on, but I think the baseball writers have largely done a good job of electing the best players. I wish they would either clarify or eliminate the "character clause," because it seems to me that baseball writers (who do the voting) are not really qualified to sit in judgment of anyone's character away from the field. But all in all, I think the process itself is pretty good. … Now, the real question is: Does the HOF itself need to fix the process. We are coming on some ballots that will include some of the greatest -- and most controversial -- players in baseball history: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, etc. Right now, I don't think that those players will have the support necessary to get into the Hall of Fame. And the people who run the museum have to ask themselves the hard question: How do they feel about having a Hall of Fame without many of the game's greatest players?
I should say that when talking with people from the Hall, they feel fine about it.
Q: Baseball Nation - What do you think will be the state of professional baseball will be like in 50 years?
A: Joe Posnanski - Tough question. The Baseball Odyssey piece I wrote for SI a couple of weeks ago really delved into the question: Why is baseball still popular more than 100 years after it became the National Pastime? I don't think there is any one answer, but one thing I believe is that baseball still appeals to us in ways that run counter to the time. We are an action driven society. We always need something happening. But we still take time for the leisurely pace of baseball. I think that will still be true 50 years from now.
Q: Baseball Nation - What are your thoughts on the Mitchell Report, was it good for the game or was it plain stupid?
A: Joe Posnanski - I don't know that it was good for the game … but I don't think it was stupid either. Can I go somewhere in between? I think the good part is that baseball sort of tried to face up to its past and tried (with limited success) to get to the bottom of what was happening behind the curtain in the 1990s. But, generally, I don't think that it accomplished very much, and I don't think it made anyone feel like they really knew much more than they did before.
Q: Baseball Nation - You are an award winning journalist and have a widely read (and much appreciated blog). What has been the best part of your job so far?
A: Joe Posnanski - I know it's a cop-out to say everything … but pretty much everything. I love to write. I love to be around the games. I love to see sports in the biggest moments. I could use a little less travel -- family and all -- but I wouldn't trade jobs with anyone.
Q: Baseball Nation - Who was your favorite players/team growing up?
A: Joe Posnanski - I grew up in Cleveland and was a huge Cleveland Indians fan. My favorite player -- as I've written about many times -- was Duane Kuiper, who hit one home run in his big league career. But it was a doozy of a home run.
Thank you again sir.