Selected Articles by Jeff Pearlman
I’ll use this space to post different articles I’ve written throughout my career. I’ll try to limit myself to the quirky, the unique, the exciting, the boring, the pathetic and the excellent. No other pieces will be allowed.
I have a daughter who attends Ward Elementary School in New Rochelle, N.Y. Upon dropping her off one day, I noticed a small brick beneath a tree. It was inscribed with the name BIANCA WEBSTER. I knew nothing about her. No one seemed to know anything about her. Well, I wanted to find out. I actually originally wrote this piece for Westchester Magazine, but it never ran. I gave it, for free, to Patch. Just seemed important to run.
Brick Leads to Memories of a Young Girl Long DeadSpotting a memorial brick at Ward Elementary School sent a local author on a journey full of memories—both sad and happy.
I love the USFL. Loooooove it. Whenever anyone gives me a chance to write about the league, I jump. The Wall Street Journal gave me the chance …
I wrote “Bare Knuckles” in 1998, when I was a young scrub at Sports Illustrated trying to make myself known. I first learned of the saga of Billy Collins about three years earlier, when I was writing for The (Nashville) Tennessean. I had been covering a local boxing card when someone nearby said, “See the guest referee. That’s Billy Collins, Sr. And, boy, does he have a story …”
This isn’t the best article I’ve written, as far as style or flow goes. But it meant something to me … the type of stories most journalists want to do.
Bare Knuckles (pdf download)
The night Billy Collins fought Luis Resto, something was terribly wrong with Resto’s gloves. The beating Collins took cost him his career–and maybe his life
The following article is the one piece of writing I’m probably most attached to. The assignment came right after the 9.11 terrorist attacks, and the last thing I thought Sports Illustrated should be doing is putting out a magazine. Sports, after, all, was 100% trivial at the time. Hell, I lived about a mile from the World Trade Center; watched the first building burn and saw the second plane approach. I hated that we were doing an issue. Thought it was really, really bad taste.
I was wrong.
That Sports Illustrated goes down as my all-time favorite issue. The editor, Bill Colson, handled the whole thing with remarkable sensitivity. That’s why this article has stuck with me (I remain close with Tyler’s father, Victor). It was the right thing to do, and I was grateful to contribute.
Picture This Perfect (pdf download)
Tyler Ugolyn Went From Being a Face on a Missing-Person Flyer To a Friend You Wish You’d Met
From a technical standpoint, the following article is probably one of my worst. Went waaaaay overboard with the writing, when I should have simply allowed a beautiful story to tell itself (Note to young writers: This is a mistake you’ll probably make many times. That’s OK. But I should have policed myself better). That said, I have come to truly love Jami Kennedy’s courage and strength, and am happy to report that in early June she gave birth to a daughter, Jo.
Joe Kennedy is gone, but not forgotten (pdf download)
I was the high school wrestling beat writer in the spring of 1996 when an editor at Sports Illustrated named Myra Gelband said I could pitch some freelance ideas. I pitched and pitched and pitched, with no luck, until I told the magazine about the time, as a University of Delaware junior, that I applied early for the NBA Draft. In full disclosure, the idea came from Alain Nana-Sinkam, a former Blue Hen basketball player with an excellent sense of humor. I owe himâ€”big. The story opened the door for me to get hired at SI.
Hoop Dream? Dream On. (pdf download)
The author had no shot at the NBA, but the league indulged himâ€”a little
The following stories is one of my favorites in that Bell was a truly odd man who just seemed happy being … different. My two memories from the experience:
A. Meeting Bell’s mother, who was sort of plastered, on his boat.
B. Having a Sports Illustrated fact checker call and ask, in very embarrassed tones, “Jeff, an editor wants to know whether the music is called ‘Hip-Hip’ or ‘Hip-Hop.’”
Yo Ho Ho! (pdf download)
Thrown overboard by the Astros, the Mets hot-hittin’, hip-hoppin Derek Bell has been cruisin’ since he docked in New York
Although I was only six when Lyman Bostock was murdered in Gary, Indiana, something about his story always stuck with me. Hence, I was thrilled to write the following piece. This is probably as in-depth a piece as I’ve ever written. I’m also happy to say that I’ve remained friends with his lovely widow.
Fifth and Jackson (pdf download)
Thirty years ago at an intersection in Gary, Ind., budding major league star Lyman Bostock got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time
My first real cover story for the magazine came on May 28, 2001, when I profiled a rookie outfielder for the Seattle Mariners named Ichiro Suzuki. Within the SI offices, there was much debate about the red circle behind Ichiro. How did it look? How would it play? Was it stating something we shouldn’t have been comfortable with? I actually dig the coverâ€”and the story came out OK, I guess. Not my favorite.
Big Hit (pdf download)
Fans have quickly gotten on a first-name basis with Ichiro, the brilliant batsman and dazzling all round talent from Japan who has led the Mariners to the top of the American League
By 2002 I had tired of covering baseball. This feature on Alfonso Soriano wound up being one of my final pieces for the magazine. I needed a break.
He’s Arrived (pdf download)
For the Yankees’ Alfonso Soriano it’s been a breakout year (no matter how long it lasts) after taking a wildly unlikely road to the Show
I was in Florida for Spring Training in March 2009 when there was a terrible boating accident off the Gulf of Mexico involving three football players. I immediately thought of a hauntingly similar tragedy that took place 26 years earlier in nearly the exact same place at nearly the exact same time. I’d first learned of Tony Latham while researching my book about the ’86 Mets, “The Bad Guys Won.” One of New York’s pitchers, a journeyman named John Mitchell, had been on the boat with him the day he died. So I called Mitchell and came up with this …
Tragedy at sea brings back chilling memories of Anthony Latham (pdf download)
Latham, a Red Sox minor leaguer, drowned in a boating accident in 1983