"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Monday, January 05, 2004 The newspaper sports editor who may have been the greatest ever, Worcester native Stanley Woodward of the old New York Herald Tribune, is recalled by the Washington Post's Jonathan Yardley in a magnificent piece:
His poor eyesight kept him out of military service during World War I, but Woodward managed to sign on with the merchant marine, which took him to "all the ports of France between Le Havre and Bordeaux," taught him "to splice and to tie a rolling hitch and a bowline-in-a-bight," and left him longing for sea duty at war's end. But his mother had liked the letters he'd written from overseas and finagled a position for him on the Worcester Gazette. He never looked back: "Never, from that time until I retired on April 1, 1962, was I willfully out of the newspaper business." He came under the tutelage of a city editor named Nick Skerrett whose "credo" was right out of "Front Page":
"A man who gets what he is sent for is a reporter. A man who gets what he is sent for and something more is a good reporter. A man who does not get what he is sent for is a goddamned nuisance and will be fired."
It was what would now be called a learning experience: "My indoctrination into the newspaper business was based on terror." Woodward "covered everything on the paper including courts and city hall," and got to know sides of Worcester he'd never seen: "murders, robberies, strikes, symphony concerts, crap games, court trials, politics, and society." He interviewed a young touring musician named Jascha Heifetz, who couldn't remember the titles of any of the encores he'd played, and "covered labor for a year and discovered for the first time that capital is not always right." Next stop: Boston. In 1922 he "accepted a job at fifty-five dollars a week as copyreader and make-up man on the Herald sports staff" and stayed at the paper for eight years, including a stint on the city staff. The reader fortunate enough to find a copy of "Paper Tiger" doubtless will agree that the highlight of this period, perhaps of the entire book, is his assignment to cover the Harvard-Yale crew race in Connecticut. His editor "believed in mobbing a good assignment when he had the men available," and in this instance decided that Woodward would be a one-man mob going up against the six sent to New London by the Globe. He was expected to fill an entire eight-column page with the help only of a green assistant named Steele Lindsay:
"I planned to do my big story in my room, banishing Lindsay to the Western Union office to write some kind of a lead note. [The hotel manager] was providing me with an off-duty bellhop for my special assistant. His duties would be simple but important. Each time I finished two pages he was to run them to the Western Union office. On his return to the room he was to mix me a two-ounce Tom Collins. Sugar, lemons, gin, a knife, a spoon, a high glass, and a bucket of ice already were set up. The ice would need replacement on race day." Fueled by gin and youthful ambition, Woodward smashed the Globe, though at one point his copy read, "As the leading eight went by the ketch Comanche her Yale complement swarmed up her rigging like lascars on an X-E-B-E-C." His editor was thrilled -- "Beat Globe hollow," his telegram declared -- and before long Woodward was too big for Boston, so on it was to Gotham, the Big Apple, the red-hot center of the known newspaper universe.