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June 24, 1988 - Image 48

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-06-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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C

However, not being paid
for his work did not sit
well with his father, Ira,
a Philadelphia business
executive.
"For the first six months of
my writing career I didn't get
paid a cent. So my father
didn't view it as a real up-
wardly mobile move." Yet, his
parents did not discourage
him.
"We always felt confident in
his judgement," his mother,
Rhoda, said. "He's blessed
with instincts for being in-
sightful and being able to do
something with that."
From New York, where he
was a general assignment
reporter, he freelanced in
Europe, then went to Florida,
taking the position of sports
writer for the Ft. Lauderdale
News/Sun-Sentinel. It was
there that his reputation as a
top-notch columnist began.
Scott Powers, assistant sports
editor, recalled that Albom
was a perfectionist at his
craft. Powers described Albom
as very particular about the
way his column would appear
in the paper. Albom frequent-
ly would request a specific col-
umn width and would write
his columns so that sentences
would finish at the right
margin without words hang-
ing over onto the next line.
For that, Powers remembered,
Albom "was a pain to edit."
However, he said he had a lot
of respect for Albom. "He's a
real smart guy. He knows
what he's doing. He's one of
the best guys I've ever work-
ed with."
Powers also remembered
Albom as having "a bit of an
ego," but deserved because of
his talent. Yet, whenever he
won cash awards for stories
he had written, Albom would
take out a bunch of his co-
workers — at his own expense
— for drinks to celebrate.
In Detroit, he continues
his reputation for metic-
ulousness, which often puts
his editors in a tizzy. Free
Press Sports Editor Dave
Robinson explained that after
Albom has seen his column in
the first edition of the paper,
he'll call up with changes for
the next edition. "He's a real
perfectionist," Robinson said
of his award-winning colum-
nist. "He really cares about
his craft of writing and tries
to perfect it. He's got a real
good gift for honing in on
what's important to a story."
Robinson sees Albom as am-
bitious. He alludes to the
countless hours of behind-the-
scenes work Albom does to
get information for a column.
"He works harder than any
columnist I've ever been
associated with."
Even the competition sits

Albom has won the Associated Press Sports Editors top column writing
award for two consecutive years.

up and takes notice. Jerry
Green, Detroit News sports
columnist, called his com-
petitor "damn good. He's a
phenomenon in this
business."
A native of Philadelphia,
Albom earned a degree in
sociology at Brandeis Univer-
sity and master's degrees in
journalism and business ad-
ministration at Columbia
University. He comes from a
traditional Jewish family,
which also happens to be in-
volved in creative pursuits.
Prior to going into business,
his father sang in Catskill
mountain resorts. His mother
pursues interior design, but
has a secret desire to be a
singer. His brother, Peter, is a
ballet dancer and sister, Cara,
is a recreational therapist
'teaching dancing.

In his leisure time, Albom
has taken up boxing and sing-
ing in night clubs. When he
was a performing pianist, he
once was a warm-up act for
comedian Gabe Kaplan. As a
sports writer he has no
favorite sport, team or player.
As a participant, he enjoys
basketball, playing guard.
("What'd you think? I played
center?" the diminutive
Albom exclaimed.) He likes
running as well, and in the
past has tried his hand at
football, basketball, baseball,
swimming and tennis. "I en-
joy sports, but I never took it
real seriously. I never cared if
I won. I only wanted to
sweat!"
His real passion, however, is
writing. "This is what I real-
ly love. I have a great situa-
tion now because I have a
creative field. I'm fascinated
by writing." He's so
fascinated, that he will pick
up books by the great writers,
both fiction and non-fiction,
to see how they "write the
truth." Among his favorites
are Norman Mailer, Tom
Wolfe, Joan Didion, Doestoev-

sky, Nabokov. "Then I'll read
Dan Jenkins or Dave Barry.
I mean I'll read everything. I
try to read guys whose
writing I can learn something
from." On road trips, which
take him out of town about
six months of the year, he
often carts a library of six or
seven books which he reads
simultaneously.
In his writing career, Albom
recalls two especially notable
experiences — going to
Moscow to cover the Goodwill
Games and being in Australia
for the America's Cup com-
petition. "How else do you get
a chance to go to Moscow? You
can't just pick up and go,
especially work among the
people which we did. We
worked with Russian jour-
nalists. If you go as a tourist,
you're going to kind of be
limited to where you can go
and what you can see, but we
had to by nature of the event
work alongside Russian peo-
ple. That was a real thrill."
Although it is through
sports that he makes his liv-
ing, Albom said he feels that
people shouldn't take it too
seriously. "I don't think you
should make sports your do
all and end all. it's a diver-
sion. It's a nice activity. It's
fun to watch. It's fun to root,
but you can't make it your
life. You can't go around say-
ing 'well, the most important
thing of my day is who they're
going to trade for this guy for
third base.' I mean, it's just
not that important. And it
scares me that people make it
that important. I sometimes
see my job on the sports page
as to try to keep things in
perspective a little bit!'
Albom does a lot of digging
to get a story. Once, he took
some unusual steps to get an
interview. While trying to get
an interview with Lance Par-
rish, Albom jumped into a
swimming pool with him
while the baseball star was in

Lei

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