2015: Bob Ryan

By Joe Sullivan
The Boston Globe
March 19, 2015

Bob Ryan has been retired from the Boston Globe for not quite three years now. He’s enjoying the easy life, that’s for sure.

A typical day might go like this:

  • A morning radio appearance on a local Boston show or maybe one in Toronto.
  • A trip to the Globe, where he still has a work area, to catch up on email and messages, give some advice to the sports editor, and then participate in a conference call to prepare for an appearance on ESPN’s 
  • Around the Horn.
  •  Go to Newton, Mass., to record Around the Horn, a show he’s appeared on since 2002.
  •  Then a little break although he could spend some time writing or even make another radio appearance, perhaps on the Tony Kornheiser Show.
  • At 6:30, he’s in Burlington, Mass., to record a nightly talk show for Comcast SportsNet New England.

“I say that retirement is a technical term to only officially note that I’m no longer in the full-time employ of the company that I worked for for 44 years,’’ said Ryan.

 Indeed he still writes for the Globe, some 40 Sunday columns  per year, but also jumps in when quality obituaries are needed. He has appeared on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters since 1989; he fills in on ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption and has written a monthly column for Basketball Times since 1976.

 He still found time to write his autobiography, “Scribe,’’ which was published last fall and has been praised by critics and fans.

Now Ryan is also a Red Smith Award winner, chosen as the 2015 recipient by members of APSE and presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to sports journalism.

 “I’m looking at the list of names (who’ve won the Red Smith Award), and it’s thrilling and humbling to be included among them,’’ said Ryan. “It’s everything I would ever have wanted to do in this business, to think I’d have my name associated with those people.

 “There were two particular inspirations in Jim Murray and Frank Deford. And I’m thrilled to be joining a beloved colleague in Bud Collins, of course.’’

 Ryan’s list of accomplishments is long. He has covered 21 NBA Finals, 29 Final Fours and 11 Olympics (six Summer, five Winter); 11 World Series and innumerable baseball playoff series; 11 Super Bowls, five BCS championship games, eight US Open championships, six British Opens, four Ryder Cups, three Masters, two PGAs, the World Basketball Championships in Toronto, Athens, Indianapolis and Tokyo and numerous major college football bowl games. He was the only person to cover the one-and-only Dream Team from the first bounce of the ball in La Jolla to the medal ceremony in Barcelona.

Ryan has been honored by the Basketball Hall of Fame with the Curt Cowdy Award, which honors media members who have made significant contributions to basketball. He’s also a member of the National Sports Writers and Sportscasters Hall of Fame. 

 ‘’For 44 years Bob was the ultimate superstar and teammate at the Globe,’’ said his fellow Globe columnist, Dan Shaughnessy. “More than any of us, he retained his youthful passion for the games we love.

 “With Bob, it was always about hyperbole. Larry Bird was the ‘absolute greatest.’ Elvin Hayes was  ‘absolute worst.’ In this spirit, it is easy to look at Bob and his body of work and surmise, ‘Bob is the absolute best sportswriter of all time.’ ”

 Ryan and his wife Elaine have been married for 45 years and they have two children, Jessica and the late Keith.

 The next five vote-getters, Henry Freeman, Leigh Montville, George Vecsey, Sandy Rosenbush and Sally Jenkins, will all be automatically nominated for the 2016 award. The other nominees, who must be renominated by eligible voters in 2016, were Terry Taylor, Rich Clarkson, Leon Carter, Terry Pluto, Tom Callahan, Glenn Schwarz, Helene Elliott, and Kirk Bohls.

Red Smith Award voting is open  to 10-year APSE members, past presidents and Red Smith Award winners. Voters submitted their top 3 choices in order.

 (Joe Sullivan is sports editor of The Boston Globe and chair of APSE’s Red Smith Award committee. Email him at joseph.sullivan@globe.com)

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