Bob Ryan, one of the most recognizable figures in sports journalism, has spent nearly a half century in the business, and now he’s a written a memoir about his experiences entitled, Scribe: My Life in Sports.
“I feel it’s hard to imagine,” Ryan said on The MoJo Show, referring to the length of his career. “It’s kind of staggering to think about it, but I’ve been very lucky to be in Boston. So much has happened. It’s such a vibrant sports atmosphere and of course culminating in the 21st century with the luckiest break that any fans have had in the history of America, frankly. Already we’ve had champions in each of the four major sports, and we’ve had eight parades since 2002.”
Ryan, 68, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and attended Boston College. He began his career as an intern at the Boston Globe on June 10, 1968. He scored an interview with the paper after his college roommate – who was essentially first in line for the internship – decided he did not wish to pursue sports journalism as a career.
“I was the backup,” Ryan said. “I came out of the bullpen.”
On his first day on the job, Ryan met Peter Gammons, with whom he immediately clicked. The two remain close friends to this day.
Ryan, whose father worked in the Villanova athletics department, became obsessed with sports at a young age, particularly basketball. He would spend Saturdays at The Palestra watching double-headers with his father.
“Basketball was my sport,” Ryan said. “I was immersed in college basketball. That gave me a great love of college basketball, so I had basketball in my blood and I played it. That’s the sport that I played the most and the longest and the best.”
Ryan said he liked baseball, too, but he wasn’t very good, as he was slow and had no arm.
In any event, Ryan covered a variety of sports throughout his 46-year career, none more so than basketball and in no greater time than the 1970s and 1980s.
“I’d do it all over again,” Ryan said of those two wonderful decades. “It was an incredible experience because the circumstances were so vastly different for a writer. The access was absolutely unrestricted. You got to know people. You got to be in places you could never be today and you got to understand and learn the game. I came to fall in love with the game and realized that the only problem the NBA ever had was marketing, not talent.”
Through it all, Ryan has found a way to stay relevant with readers of all ages. He understands how other people see things, and he’s been able to blend it with how he sees things. He’s adapted.
And he hopes his father, who died at 39 when Ryan was 11, would be proud of the career he’s had.
“I like to think that he would have been very proud with what I’ve done and where I’ve been and who I know and all that,” Ryan said. “I got the chance to actually learn some things about him in my research. So in a purely personal sense, the idea of being able to write about my father and perpetuate (his) memory – I’m really happy to get that story out there.”