SSTN Interviews writer Joe Boesch of Dugout Diary
SSTN: Today we are here with Joe Boesch writer of Dugout Diary by Joe Boesch since October 2005, which was part of the MLBlogs Network on MLB.com. He also published and was interviewed for stories published on MLB.com and appeared as a guest on MLB Radio & the show “Under The Lights.” ‘
Joe also hosted “New York Baseball Live with Joe Boesch” on Sports Radio 1240 & “Baseball Talk with Carl the Cabbie & Dugout Joe,” on the Blog Talk Radio Network. Joe has written for Long Island Newsday and published bylined stories for The Baseball Report, SB Nation, Pinstripe Alley, This Week Newspapers, Messenger-Review Newspapers, The Islander News (NHL N.Y. Islanders), News Photographer, Fan Magazine and contributed to the book “Baseball Stories for the Soul.” He’s also a lifetime member of the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America).
Thanks for coming to Start Spreading the News. It is great to have this discussion with you.
Thank you Paul…pleasure to be here with you.
To begin, please tell us how you became a baseball fan.
My love for the game began when I was young and had the dream of being a Major League baseball player. I loved the nostalgia of the game and what it stands for. Forever in my mind is the bedroom I created when I lived at my parent’s home — I had pictures, stories, autographed baseballs, bats and hats decorated around. I lived the game, dreamed the game, and treasured the game.
My Father also told me about my late grandfather’s love of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Ebbets Field. Back then, they didn’t get to see many games at Ebbets Field, so that prompted my late grandfather to buy season box seats at Ebbets Field. Stories like that make you become a bigger fan of the game. After all, it is America’s Game.
Please tell us about your baseball writing. How did you begin doing this and making a name for yourself?
When I was a young teenager, my late grandmother put together a scrapbook of sports articles and told me that “you can do this.” I read the articles with great interest and the idea came into my mind of writing a better story – my own story. Today I have my own scrapbook of 500-plus authored articles, contributed to the book “Baseball Stories for the Soul” and also hosted my own baseball radio show.
I also followed New York Times Sports Columnist Ira Berkow as a young writer. I sought his opinion on writing and how I can become a better writer? I was interested in his friendship with Red Smith, who was considered the “Dean of Sportswriters.” I’ve been asked by many, including some on MLBlogs, my road to writing? Well, it’s not easy and I must say I’ve had good times and bad with it. Though, I don’t discourage anyone from being a writer, it takes a lot of hard work and concentration to make it.
In a letter from Ira Berkow he shared: My first suggestion, above all others, is to read, read, read. Read all the good writers you can lay your hands and eyes on.
The second suggestion is to write, write, write. Learning, of course, from the good writers by closely observing the tricks of their trade, and then applying in your own way what strikes you. As Red Smith said to me once, “the one who works hard at writing, the better one gets,” and, I pass that along to you.
Please also tell us about your podcast with Carl “The Cabbie” Shimkin.
I met Carl “The Cabbie” while writing for MLBlogs, where we came to the idea of doing this radio show because we wanted to bring baseball and the MLBlogs community to the next level. The idea came into my head and Cabbie’s after I appeared on “The Tim Kuda Show.” What better way to market the show and to interview some really good baseball people on MLBlogs and Blog Talk Radio.
We interviewed a great number of guests, with the likes of: Ralph Branca, Ernie Harwell, Andrew Friedman, Mike Marshall, Paul Gibson, Phil Mushnick, Joel Sherman, Roger Kahn, etc.
In addition to writing, you are also a photographer. Have you had many chances to bring your passion for writing and photography together in any of your works?
Photography is something I always enjoyed. I’ve had some of my stories and photographs published together which was pretty cool. I consider myself a writer first and photographer second. I also photograph the Minor Leagues and the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball when I have the chance. I put my Nikon to work, as I like to photograph as much of the games I attend as possible.
What changes do you see the Yankees making for the 2022 season?
Here is what I believe the Yankees need to do, to get better for the 2022 season.
Pitching: Besides Gerrit Cole, they need at least a solid two and three starter.
Catcher: Gary Sanchez is not the answer. The Yankees need to start looking for a new catcher.
Shortstop: The Gleyber Torres experiment is over. They need a real shortstop and this offseason there will be a handful to pick from.
First Base: They either must resign Anthony Rizzo or look for a better solution than Luke Voit.
Outfield: They need to look at all options, especially centerfield.
If the Yankees do nothing this Winter to address these issues, they will have the same outcome next season. They will be left questioning themselves again about all the mistakes that were made previous seasons. They will be left in the dust again and watching a team like the Tampa Bay Rays contend for another World Series title.
You write about a host of big league teams including the Mets. Which team do you feel is closer to reaching the World Series right now, the Mets or the Yankees. Why?
The Yankees are closer to making it to the World Series. The team is built to make the playoffs, but the question is: how far do they make it in the playoffs?
The Mets continue to rebuild and have hit many road blocks from looking for a GM to a new manager. They are in the rebuilding stage and I see them maybe in two to three years a contender.
Why, do you believe, are people so drawn to baseball and its stories, legends, and people?
Enriched in the mind of a young boy, older fans, die-hards, are their favorite player making a diving catch or taking a full swing for a homerun. It starts at a young age, and continues throughout live. This is baseball which is what makes stories and legends of the game. This is what draws people to watch it and root on their favorite team.
There’s a lot of talk about baseball needing to be “fixed.” Is baseball broken? If you were the Commissioner of Baseball what change(s) if any would you make to the current game?
The games need to be shortened. The biggest complaint from many is that the games are too long and tend to get boring. Other sports, like hockey, the games are short and action-packed. Maybe with baseball, shortening the innings of a game? Do something to make it exciting and wanting fans continuing to watch and attend games.
In looking at the history of the Yankees, or baseball in general, what person or event would you like to see a book written about?
I’m going to take a stretch on this and say Brian Cashman. He’s one of the longest tenured GM’s in the game and continually makes the Yankees an exciting team to watch.
In the book and the movie The Natural, the main character wants nothing more than to walk down the street and have people say, “There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was.” Who was the best baseball player you ever saw?
There are two players in my mind: Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter.
Mattingly (Donnie Baseball) was the face of the Yankees from the 1980’s into the ‘90’s. Even though he never won a World Series, he was always the most exciting to watch.
Then after Mattingly retires, Derek Jeter comes along and just brings his play of the game to another level. Jeter made plays at shortstop that were mind blowing and his bat was just as lethal. An exciting player to watch who came through in clutch situations.
Our final question is really just a collection of short answers…
What was your favorite baseball team growing up?
New York Yankees
Who was your favorite player?
Don Mattingly and then Derek Jeter
What is your most prized collectible?
There are two: the letter I have from Ira Berkow, which is framed along with a column that was published in the New York Times by Red Smith: “Writing Less — and Better?” Both are something I cherish and look to for inspiration.
Who is your favorite musical group or artist?
The country band Little Big Town. My wife got me hooked on them and country music.
What is your favorite food (if it is pizza, what is your favorite pizza restaurant)?
Pizza, of course. Ivarones on Long Island and Joe’s in New York City on Carmine St.
Joe, you just gave me two new pizza places to visit! I can’t wait.
Thanks for spending time with me today and talking baseball. Please keep in touch!