In 1962, Shawn decided that The New Yorker needed more sports pieces, and, knowing that I was a fan, asked if I wanted to go down to Florida and write something about spring training. I was surprised he even knew there was such a thing. I’d never been to spring training, so I said yes, thank you, and went down to the White Sox camp, in Sarasota, where I found the little wooden stadium jammed with elderly fans watching the young stars. Later stops at larger parks in St. Petersburg and Tampa confirmed this peaceable view and also offered a first look at the squirming newborn Mets. The piece, “The Old Folks Behind Home,” ran a few weeks later in the magazine, and everybody seemed happy with it. It happened without any plan at all from me. I didn’t see it as a career move, I mean. And the long trail of those pieces and books happened one by one and grew only out of my own pleasure and excitement over the endless complexities and beauties of the game.
I don’t want to live in a world without him in it.