Jeff Pearlman

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The most embarrassing article ever

So tonight, while digging through old bins, I came across the above article. It ran in an edition of the Putnam Trader, my long-defunct hometown weekly newspaper, in the summer of 1990.

On the bright side, it’s probably the best pub I’ve ever received for my athletic accomplishments. Hell the boldface headline alone—MAHOPAC’S PEARLMAN RUNS OFF TO DELAWARE—suggests an athlete of importance and distinction. I mean, the kid is the first Mahopac runner to go Division I since 1975! That’s 15 years! And he had the top times in—what!?—five events! Holy crap! This kid is amazing! And college meets against Yale, Lehigh … and Tennessee! Tennessee!! Jeez, the Vols are always one of the top programs in the country. This kid’s amazing! Fantastic! Awesome!

And (ahem) he wrote the story.

Glub.

It’s true. I was 18, an intern at the paper, and the sports editor said, “Why don’t you write something up. Insert some quotes.” The result, as you can see, is beyond ludicrous. Some quick notes:

1. My pathetic lack of self-awareness came to a horrific crashing halt when a high school classmate named Denise spotted me and said, “Hey, nice article you wrote about yourself.”

2. Notice there are no times listed. Not a one. Reason: I was, at best, a mediocre-to-bad NAIA runner. Yes, I was the second-best distance runner in Putnam County. But Putnam County was laughably bad. There was a kid, Mike Barrett, who was recruited to run at East Carolina. And there was, eh, me.

3. “I seriously believe that I have a realistic chance to make the varsity team”!? WTF? I was awful. Sub-awful. Fought to break 4:59 in the mile. Varsity? Division I? What?

4. “Competing against so many national powers”? Best team I ran against was, I believe, Princeton. Tennessee was only on the schedule because they hosted the NCAA Championship that year—and Delaware distance runners weren’t in that class. Lord knows I wasn’t.

•••

Truth is, I loved running at Delaware. Loved it. Lasted for a season of cross country and a season of indoor track. Remains a life highlight, because it was a goal I accomplished. I was bad. Very bad. Of the 25 Blue Hen distance runners, I was probably 23rd. But I busted my ass, had fun and made some lifelong friends.

And, as the article suggested, I really did show the Delaware coaches what I could do.

Write articles for the student newspaper.

  • Mike Stein

    Dude, you so could have had Denise.

  • Tim

    Years before LeBron took his talents to South Beach, Jeff Pearlman took his running talents to the University of Delaware.

  • Mike

    All the good Mahopac runners went to JFK 1978-1985.
    Hillary Family, Trainor Family, Cohane Family
    Glad you rebuilt Mahopac XC and Track!

  • http://koogbasschi.wordpress.com Sebastian Moraga

    You should have spelled it “Perlman” once. Then nobody would have thought you wrote the article, because who misspells his own name?

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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