Last week, my world’s collided. Let me explain: I work by day as a producer on a nightly current affairs television program up here in God’s city, Toronto, called The Agenda with Steve Paikin, producing one-on-one interviews on a myriad of topics, and moonlight as a very mediocre sports writer by night. The inimitable host of our program, veteran journalist, great Canadian, and the hardest working man in show business, Steve Paikin, is a huge baseball fan. He’s got a framed painting of Ted Williams in his office. I’m quite certain that if Steve weren’t a Boston Red Sox fan, he’d be perfect. And, so, when veteran Toronto Sun baseball scribe Bob Elliott got the call to Cooperstown, winning the 2012 J.G. Taylor Spink Award, Steve invited him into our studio for an interview. Now, Bob Elliott’s usually on the other end of this equation; he’s the one asking the questions. But when Steve Paikin invites you on The Agenda, you don’t turn him down. So Elliott sat down with Paikin, magic happened, and television was made.
Some highlights from the feature interview:
– At the end of the day, Elliott, like the rest of us, simply loves baseball, and was lucky enough to make a living off of the game. His favorite player growing up was Eddie Mathews. He named his son after him. And when Elliott met Mathews, he admits: “it was a little disappointing.”
– The best team Bob Elliott ever saw: the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays. Me too. Back-to-back World Series champions, baby.
– When asked to name “the nicest ballplayer” he ever encountered, Elliott struggled to find an answer, finally settling on Paul Molitor.
– When asked to name “the most miserable SOB” he ever dealt with, Elliott didn’t hesitate, not for a second: Dave Stieb. Say it ain’t so!
– About the steroid era, Elliott says he will vote for both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens to be elected into Cooperstown, but that he doesn’t know what he’s going to do about A-Rod. Neither do the Yankees.
– And, finally, this next nugget isn’t from the interview itself, but from a conversation Elliott, Paikin, and I had after the interview, in the green room: Elliott said he only votes players to Cooperstown based on what they did on the field, yet he agrees with Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rose, according to Elliott, committed the ultimate baseball sin. Quite the contradiction, if you ask me, and I respectfully disagree with Elliott. Free Charlie Hustle.
Congratulations, Bob Elliott. A life spent writing about baseball, culminating in enshrinement in Cooperstown, sounds like a life bloody well-lived to me.