Dick Young (writer)

From BR Bullpen

Dick Young

Biographical Information[edit]

Dick Young was one of the most famous sportswriters of his day, working for the New York Daily News for 45 years from the 1940s to the 1970s. He was also a columnist for the New York Post and The Sporting News for many years, even after he retired from writing for daily newspapers. He was also reputedly the highest-paid sportswriter of his time. While he covered all sports, his reporting on the Brooklyn Dodgers and on baseball in New York City in general brought him to national prominence. He received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award in 1978 and was president of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Young was known to be part of a new breed of sportswriters who did not only write about the action on the field, but also about the social issues of the day and the private lives and foibles of the athletes they covered. He was the first sportswriter to bring the fans into the dressing room, so to speak, and was a very controversial figure for some time, as many considered that what he did was a breach of trust with the athletes and that he was only interested in showing the warts of sports, and not its glory. As the New York Times stated in his obituary: "With all the subtlety of a knee in the groin, Dick Young made people gasp... He could be vicious, ignorant, trivial and callous..."

Young began covering the Dodgers in the 1940s and was present when the New York Giants staged their epic comeback in 1951 by rallying from 13 1/2 games down to catch the Dodgers and force a three-game playoff that ended with the "Shot Heard 'Round the World." He was a great fan of Willie Mays and famously castigated the few writers who had failed to vote for him when he was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1979. But he also had feuds with a few star players, notably Tom Seaver, who asked to be traded away from the New York Mets because he resented Young prying into his personal life, and Eddie Murray, who stopped talking to the press altogether after objecting to a column about his family that Young wrote during the 1979 World Series which he found disparaging.

Toward the end of his career, Young had become a caricature of himself, holding forth very reactionary views when he had been a progressive in his younger days. This was particularly evident in his coverage of the world of boxing and his lack of appreciation for Mohammed Ali, but also his easy dismissal of sports stars he found too flashy for his liking. Like many old-school sportswriters, he entirely blamed players for the labor strife of the 1970s and 1980s, seeing them as unnecessarily greedy and equating arbitrator Peter Seitz's decision in favor of free agency to lobbing a terrorist bomb at baseball. he also famously objected to Jim Bouton's book Ball Four, published in 1970, calling its author a "social leper".

Further Reading[edit]