Currently immersed in George Castle's Baseball and the Media:
Hal McCoy worked all sides of baseball starting in 1973,when he was placed on the Reds beat by the Dayton Daily News. More than three decades later, his eyesight fading due to a rare virus, McCoy soldiered on at the same beat, able to out-report and outlast colleagues despite his narrowing vision. Like a predator being able to sniff out its prey without seeing it, McCoy can sense a story at fifty paces.
He began by simply signing up almost the entire Reds clubhouse as sources. Sometimes there would be conflicts. Almost always McCoy and the players he covered enjoyed mutual respect.
"I did associate more with players," McCoy said of his early days on the beat. "I used to play tennis with them in the mornings. I traveled on the charter and spent more time with them. Still, if you're a professional, you know the line and don't cross it."
McCoy quickly fell into the cookie jar for writers -- the famed Big Red Machine of the 1970s. The star-studded team was a journalist's dream with a story by every locker and master storyteller Sparky Anderson holding court in his manager's office.
"Sparky would lay out by the swimming pool and all the writers would be out there with him, every day," McCoy said. "It was the best team I ever covered. Ask Pete Rose one question and that's all you needed -- he'd fill up your notebook. Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench were the same way. [Tony] Perez and [Davey] Concepcion had the [Spanish] language barrier, but they were cooperative."
Pitcher-turned-author Jim Brosnan defined such connections. "It was an older-brother relationship, and they were the older brother," he said of the writers of bygone days. "They knew more about what baseball was about than what we did -- or so they thought."
"At that time the media kind of protected the players," Blyleven said. "They knew what the players were going through. They knew it wasn't an easy haul over 180 days with all the traveling. You had a closer relationship with the writers. I became friends with Sid Hartman [later the mainstay Twin Cities sports columnist]. I used to tackle Sid in the clubhouse. One day I hid his tape recorder in Boston. He was steaming in the press box. In the eighth inning, I put the tape recorder back to where it was on the table."
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