Can I take a moment of privilege here?
You guys compliment me from time to time on writing these notes. I learned to appreciate writing by reading. My mom taught English and put books in my hands at an early age. Very quickly, if I had a book, I was content and out of everyone’s way.
Sports Illustrated was one of my favorite reads. It was quality journalism and storytelling all wrapped into one publication. Some writers were so good I looked forward to seeing their bylines and would read their articles no matter the subject.
Dan Jenkins was one of my favorites. He passed away in 2019.
Jenkins was hilarious and insightful. He would leave me both chuckling and informed.
His daughter Sally became a world-class sportswriter also. She wrote a tribute to her dad and this is how she ended it:
So here’s the deal if you want a recipe for father worship, if you want kids who, when you are dying in the hospital, will race at 60 mph across town in search of the grape Popsicle you requested, just to please you one more time. Take your little girl or boy everywhere with you, even into bars. Do small, harmless things with them you shouldn’t, let them off easy and end every conversation with a laugh. But give them your God’s honest truth about what matters, and let them see you work.
He preferred brevity, loathed false sentiment, prized candor and humor above all character traits and was a free speech absolutist. Privately, he was a lenient, adoring and adored man. As great a writer as he was, I don’t know that you can say anything higher about a guy than that his children preferred his company to all others and his approval to all the credit in the world. I was so lucky to be his.
“I don’t know who to try to impress anymore,” I told my mother.
If you don’t know Dan Jenkins, Google his name and read some of his work. You will see what I mean.