Perspective – noun – per·spec·tive – (1) a mental view or prospect.
Or, (2) the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed // places the issues in proper perspective
Or, (3) : the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance // trying to maintain my perspective
Now, we’re getting there.
Great perspective for a baseball writer is both innate and learned. It can not be taught in journalism school and it is not a human quality on display very often in the sound-byte world of news coverage in 2019. It is a gift.
Boston Globe baseball columnist Nick Cafardo had tremendous perspective. His enlightening point of view was on the game of professional baseball and he shared it with hundreds of thousands of his readers, the dedicated fans of the game and those who make a living in and around Major League Baseball.
For those of us fortunate enough to have the Boston Globe dropped on our doorstep every morning, or for a growing number smart enough to spring for an online subscription to the Globe, we treasured his prospective and looked forward to reading an entire page of Nick Cafardo’s insights every Sunday morning. It was often the first page we’d turn to, right before that first sip of coffee.
In baseball season, those of us lucky enough had the privilege of working alongside Cafardo in the Fenway Park press box. After reading his column, we’d take the T to Fenway, ride the Gate D elevators to the fifth floor, and he’d be there, again, often with a snazzy sport coat which signaled an upcoming pregame appearance on NESN.
You woke up, and his work was there waiting for you, and now, you’d look up and he’d be sharing more insight, more information, right on your TV screen. A few minutes later, maybe grabbing that second cup, Cafardo would again be right in front of your eyes, smiling and receptive to talk some baseball, talk about his family or to ask a polite, personal question to fully engage and appreciate the lives of his colleagues.
He was welcoming. He always had time and he was so well liked and so, so respected by all he came in contact with, everyday of his 62 years.
“Nick Cafardo worked in a profession peppered with competitive souls, jealousy, and millionaire athletes accustomed to being praised unconditionally,” wrote lead Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy today. “One of the best baseball writers of his generation, Nick managed to cover the sport without generating any hard feelings. Everybody liked Nick. The man had no enemies. For a baseball writer in 2019, that’s impossible.”
“The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo was one of the greatest reporters I’ve ever known, one of the greatest reporters the Globe has ever had,” wrote former Globe columnist Baxter Holmes, now working with ESPN. “He knew everything and everyone. But not enough can be said about how well he treated others. I was lucky to see that first as a Globe intern and then later as a full-time staffer. He was so generous, kind, over-the-top helpful. And while I didn’t follow baseball, I always tried to read his Sunday baseball notes column, because the depth of reporting and level of detail were always so incredible.
“Nick worked as hard as anyone, and he delivered every Sunday, week after week, year after year — for decades,” Holmes continued. “His work ethic was daunting and inspiring, but, man, he couldn’t have been a more wonderful person to know or work alongside. My deepest condolences to his family on this devastating loss.”
“Rest In Peace, dear Nick,” wrote Hall of Fame columnist Claire Smith of Philadelphia. “Thank you for always being there as a friend, and more. Will miss your smile, your written words, that strong shoulder of solidarity. God bless. You will forever occupy countless real estate in my heart.”
The Boston Baseball Writers’ Association of America issued a statement that read: The BBWAA mourns the passing of our esteemed colleague and Boston BBWAA member, veteran Boston Globe baseball writer Nick Cafardo. We offer our deepest sympathies to his family, wife Leeanne and children Ben and Emilee.
“The Major League Baseball and sports journalism communities suffered a tremendous loss today,” the MLB Players Association said in a statement. “For more than three decades, Nick enlightened Boston sports fans with a rare blend of insight, wit and good humor. He leaves behind a legion of friends and admirers in press boxes, clubhouses and front offices throughout the game.”
The Red Sox organization released a heartfelt statement that read, “We are saddened by the sudden loss of long-time baseball reporter, Nick Cafardo. For over three decades, Nick was a fixture at Fenway Park and throughout ballparks across the country. His coverage was as consistent as the game itself. His opinions on the Red Sox and the most pressing issues facing Major League Baseball were a constant, particularly through the prominent Sunday baseball notes column in the Boston Globe.
“The Cafardo family will always be a part of the Boston baseball family,” continued the statement, “and the Red Sox will honor Nick’s legacy at the appropriate time.”
As the very first game of the Spring Training season begins today, there will be a moment of silence for Nick Cafardo. That moment will last for hours in my mind.
I’ll try to remember the very last conversation we had last fall at the World Series. I’ll clutch his last Sunday note column and re-read his last story about Steve Pearce.
I’ll remember the first time I met Nick and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Pio, Pio on 1st Avenue in New York with him and then Globe reporter Peter May when they were covering the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians in the 2007 postseason, working the lines of the Sox “next” opponent, immediately after Boston advanced past the LA Angels of Anaheim.
I’ll remember asking him to explain MLB’s waiver trade deadline rule and how players can be traded AFTER the deadline (My NBA-bred mind still can’t figure out why the rules are written that way).
I’ll think of a random night, many years ago, in the press box when a lengthy rain delay was upon us, and Nick worked his magic on the Red Sox wonderful media relations crew to spring for a dozen pizzas from Regina Pizzeria and that little gleam in his eye when I asked, “Does this happen every time it rains?”
I’ll think of the night before last season’s World Series Game 1 when we shared a few laughs at the wonderful MLB Gala and we spent some quality time with Sox reporter Maureen Mullen and MLB’s Matt Bourne, and we all felt so wonderful to know a few great people and maybe build upon our relationships, share a nugget of news for the good of Cafardo’s readers and the game of baseball.
Lastly, I’ll think of one day when I pulled Nick aside and asked him if he’d like one less thing to worry about.
He smiled and simply said, “Yes.”
“Well, I had the occasion to work with your son, Ben, on something and I can tell you a couple things.
“He’s really good at his job. He’s well-liked by his boss and his colleagues and he’s going to do very well for himself.
“You don’t have to worry about Ben,” I advised, having just a little perspective into Ben’s chosen profession.
You would have thought I’d told him he was having an audience with the Pope.
“Nick Cafardo was the best,” wrote New York Post columnist Kevin Kernan. “A close friend. Was with him last week. The last few hours his friends have consoled one another. And we all have said the same thing. Nick was a pro’s pro and we all loved him.
Added Kernan: “God bless his wonderful family, his wife Leeanne, daughter Emilee and son Ben, who works for ESPN and has Nick’s work ethic but as Nick often told me, ‘Ben is way more talented than me.'”
How great was Nick Cafardo?
A Mets fan from New York shared this story in a Facebook post to Digital Sports Desk yesterday:
“I met Nick a few years ago at the Marriott hotel that is attached to Rodgers Center in Toronto,” wrote John Kneesy, Jr., a family friend. “He sat with me, a nobody, during breakfast and we talked baseball. He was a true gentleman and I will always cherish that memory.” 💔
In closing, I will simply state this: The next time I walk into the press box at Fenway Park, I know I will cry.
I’ll cry because I’ll have just read a Boston Globe baseball column not written by Nick Cafardo. I’ll cry because he won’t be there to smile and have a little chat. I’ll cry because it just won’t be the same and it won’t be as wonderful and welcoming place without Nick.
As many of the messages of condolence noted, Cafardo is survived by his wife, Leeanne, and two adult children, Ben and Emilee, and two grandchildren, eight-year old Annabella and four-year old Noah.
Arrangements have yet to be announced.
— Terry Lyons, Editor in Chief, Digital Sports Desk