Sporstwriter Paul Zimmerman’s Favorite Lede

MMQB's "Dr. Z Week" continues with excerpts from Zimmerman's unpublished memoirs.

“Dr. Z Week” continues at website MMQB.com and boy, what a treat one of today’s entries is. We’re talking excerpts from titanic one-time Sports Illustrated football writer Paul Zimmerman’s unpublished memoirs.

There’s much to savor here, starting with this tip of the hat from Dr. Z to New York Sun columnist Frank Graham:

I grew up with this kind of stuff. It was my English Lit seminar, my exploration into the classics. Graham, again, covering the Max BaerTony Galento fight in Jersey City in 1940, and I would have to call this my favorite lede:

‘They rolled the clock back last night and two cuckoos jumped out.’

I can quote you parts of that story. The fight ended when Galento couldn’t come out of his corner for the eighth round…

And post-fight, Baer, who was known as The Clown Prince, did a little waltz around the ring with a dwarf who was part of his ringside entourage.

‘Three cuckoos,’ was Graham’s closing line.

Zimmerman also writes about how he pounded the New York City pavement following Columbia Journalism School graduation. He then headed cross-country to Seattle and wound up down the Pacific coast at the Sacramento Bee, benefiting from the fact that a reporter had quit just the day before:

The saying around the city room was that the style guide was written by someone who had been dead for 50 years, old C.K. McClatchy, the founder and owner. There were some weird rules it was necessary to remember. You weren’t allowed to use contractions. The old man just hadn’t liked them. Make that had not liked them.

These two excerpts are from the very beginning of the thoughts laid out by Zimmerman, now 83. Bookmark this one, and savor it over the forthcoming holiday weekend.

Screen grab via: MMQB.com

@hollywoodspin rhorgan@gmail.com Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.