For immediate release (September 2020):
By Ed Odeven
Jerry Izenberg’s career as a newspaper reporter and columnist spans generations. From the early 1950s to the present day, he has written about championship teams and Olympic icons, baseball and football superstars and boxing legends. Along the way he became one of the best American sports columnists.
“Going 15 Rounds With Jerry Izenberg: A Collection Of Interviews With The Legendary Columnist” highlights Izenberg’s career and some of his favorite stories. The timing of the book’s release was planned to coincide with Izenberg’s 90th birthday, Sept. 10.
Going 15 Rounds With Jerry Izenberg is currently available as an ebook at some online book stores, including:
A great storyteller
Even as he approached his 90th birthday in September 2020, Izenberg remains an important voice in the sports media world. In a series of conversations with Izenberg, his illustrious career is discussed. Some of the seminal moments of his childhood and adulthood are highlighted with vivid details.
A gifted storyteller, Izenberg talks about his close friendship with Muhammad Ali, about meeting Nelson Mandela at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, about the one question he always wanted to ask Cuban leader Fidel Castro. He reminisces about his father’s love for baseball, and about his own realization as a young man that he wasn’t an aspiring jazz musician despite his love for music. Yes, music played a pivotal role in his life as a writer. But how? That’s a topic explored within these pages.
He shares tales about newspaper mentors and colleagues, including Red Smith and Shirley Povich, Jim Murray and Stanley Woodward, Dick Young and Jimmy Cannon. He reflects on racism and race relations in the 20th century through the prism of sports. He discusses courage and heroism, using Olympic wrestler Jeff Blatnick and baseball player Jim Eisenreich as examples. He recalls his visit to Grambling University, a historically black university, to observe coach Eddie Robinson’s football squad when he was the first white reporter to do so. He brings horse races from the 1970s to life, reminiscing about Secretariat and Canonero II.
Jerry Green, Dave Anderson, Ira Berkow, John Schulian, Dave Kindred, Wallace Matthews and Jeremy Schaap, among others, offer their assessments of Izenberg’s career and what’s made it special. They also weigh in on Izenberg’s place in the pantheon of American sportswriters.
Not strictly an interview book, this project curates a wide mix of opinions from and about Jerry Izenberg to help people develop a broader understanding of his background, numerous career accomplishments and commitment to the community. He was the founder of Project Pride, which provided scholarships to college-bound students from his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, and also provided a range of sports and academic activities for students for three decades.
Snippets from interviewees
In reporting this book, observations from sources cited above and elsewhere in Part II of the book give readers an inside look at Izenberg’s career.
“We’ll never see another newspaper columnist like Jerry. In the golden age of newspapers — meaning they had money — Jerry was everywhere at every important event. He also made other events important by his presence.”
–Dave Kindred, former columnist, The Washington Post, The Sporting News, etc.
“I have published dozens of sports books over the years, many of them quite successful, but no one has ever come close to what Jerry accomplished.”
–Rick Wolff, book editor
“I love Jerry. Smart, tireless, passionate, insightful. He was one of my all-time great guests when I was doing the early days of what is now known as radio row during the 1987 and 1988 Super Bowls. Great storyteller. He knows how to read the temperature of people and specifically sports people.”
–Dave Sims, Seattle Mariners TV play-by-play announcer, NFL radio announcer for Westwood One
“Jerry’s newspaper career has been in the East, mine in the Midwest and West. That being said, I always knew who he was and had a great deal of respect for him. And more recently, when I began a second career as a sports columnist at the L.A. Times, after 25 years as the sports editor there, I got to know Jerry very well. We both did lots of columns on boxing. My favorite thing about Jerry was that he never got tired, he never stops looking for stories.”
–Bill Dwyre, former Los Angeles Times sports editor
“There’s clarity and there’s depth in his writing, and I think he’s very analytical.”
–Jerry Green, semi-retired Detroit News columnist
“He would often tell you a story within the story.”
–Wallace Matthews, New York-based sports columnist and reporter
“He was a thought leader in the world of sports journalism.”
–Jeremy Schaap, ESPN reporter
“Jerry Izenberg is one of those insider sports columnists from the time of Jim Murray and Jimmy Cannon to the time of Christine Brennan and Sally Jenkins.”
–George Vecsey, former New York Times sports columnist
“Jerry is an icon whose popularity transcends sports. He’s been so good for so long that he’s earned respect and admiration in and out of the sports world. … Jerry is a true journalist, a sports columnist who can make you laugh or cry. You may not always agree with him, but he always informs and entertains his readers.”
–John McClain, longtime NFL reporter for the Houston Chronicle
“Izenberg has a gift for painting characters. If you never saw Sonny Liston or Bart Starr perform, he brings them to life.”
–Bijan Bayne, author, critic, columnist
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