Jeff Pearlman

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The ambush

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 12.11.27 PMInteresting exchange from earlier today on Twitter.

Having just seen TMZ.com run a photograph of Adrian Peterson’s young (and apparently abused) child, I mildly teed off on the website. This is what I wrote:

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 11.59.43 AMOne of my followers, the creatively named @IronMikeGallego, fired back this …

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 12.00.56 PMIn case you’re one of the 99.99999999 percent of humans who did not read The Rocket That Fell to Earth, my biography of the legendary pitcher, the book concludes with a reporter knocking on the door of Randy Clemens, Roger’s older brother. Much of Rocket details the Clemens family and, specifically, Roger’s relationship with Randy, who struggled with drug addiction and was blamed, in a sense, for the death of his ex-wife (who was murdered by people who entered her home seeking out drugs).

Taken in the 140-character vacuum of Twitter, I can see one saying, “How scummy! You ambush his brother? What the f*ck!”

Such, however, was not the case.

Randy Clemens did not have a working telephone. Or, at least, a listed telephone number. All I could find was a singular address in a Texas apartment complex. I actually paid a local writer to knock on the door and—if it was, indeed, Randy—see if he’d answer the questions I desperately wanted to ask (about his brother, about their childhood, about addiction). Some may call this an ambush—I call it, well, reporting. Not only are you supposed to seek out Randy Clemens. You’re actually obligated to speak with him—or at least exhaust all possible efforts. Not because you’re hoping for a scene of some drugged-out, beaten-down sibling, or because you want to “get” Roger Clemens and his family.

No, you do so because it’s journalism.

It’s reporting.

PS: Unrelated side note. Yesterday had Shawn Green, former Major League slugger, speak via Skype to my sports journalism class at Purchase College. Can’t thank the man enough. Great insight, wonderful stories.

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  • Sebastian Moraga

    I am a reporter, too, and I agree, that was no ambush, it happened at the man’s home. But nevertheless, I wonder, why wasn’t Jeff Pearlman the one knocking on the door? It was his name on the book title (which, by the way, I did read.)

  • Jeff Pearlman

    Answer: I wasn’t 100% certain the address was correct. It’s a shitload of money to hope it’s right. If he’d have agreed to an interview, I’d have flown down.

  • Joel

    From IMG’s comments, it sounded like you reported some of what you (or someone else) saw of his apartment. Is that true?

    • Jeff Pearlman

      it is. wrong move?

  • Ray Sism

    Interesting debate. I’m still not sure you answered the most important question, though.

  • Thanks for taking the time to do this, Jeff.

    A few more words from me (unfortunately, in increments of greater than 140 characters) if you’re interested.

    http://sidespin.kinja.com/a-non-journalist-lectures-an-actual-journalist-on-words-1444004761

  • Ted

    Actually, you were doing research, which would later facilitate your reporting. A necessary task.

Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
The Bad Guys Won Book
The Rocket that Fell to Earth Book
Boys Will Be Boys Book

Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life