Remember Richard Ben Cramer By Reading His Epic Ted Williams Profile
Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ben Cramer, 62, one of the best narrative journalists ever, has died. Cramer was probably best known for What It Takes: The Way to the White House, his seminal book about the 1988 presidential campaign, and Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life, his unflinching biography of the Yankees star, but I’m partial to his amazing profile of Ted Williams. “What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?” appeared in the June 1986 issue of Esquire. The lede alone is epic:
Few men try for best ever, and Ted Williams is one of those. There’s a story about him I think of now. This is not about baseball but fishing. He meant to be the best there, too. One day he says to a Boston writer: “Ain’t no one in heaven or earth ever knew more about fishing.”
“Sure there is,” says the scribe.
“Oh, yeah? Who?”
“Well, God made the fish.”
“Yeah, awright,” Ted says. “But you have to go pretty far back.”
Others — from The New Yorker’s David Grann to SNL’s Seth Meyers — are remembering Cramer today by recommending the Ted Williams piece as one of the greatest in sports writing history. Read it in its entirety over at Esquire.