I first got to know about Dave Anderson through the writing of George Vecsey.
Vecsey’s book, A Year In the Sun, was one of the most influential books I’ve read in my life. It was one of the first things that turned me on to being a sports reporter. Throughout the book, which is Vecsey’s diary of 1986, he often writes about his friendship with New York Times colleague Dave Anderson.
Two stories stand out to me, without even reaching for my copy of the book. One is when Vecsey is late to a Giants-Bears playoff game and he sat down next to Anderson, who caught him up on the game in nine words. The second is when Vecsey had to leave an assignment due to illness, and Anderson called him from a press box to see if he was OK.
That kindness and generosity was what made Anderson a giant in sports writing. Anderson died this week at the age of 89.
He’s as brilliant a columnist as you’ll ever read— one of only four sports journalists to ever win a Pulitzer Prize. But what his friends and colleagues pointed out this week was that kindness, that generosity.
My friend and mentor Mike Vaccaro:
Watching Dave work was a pleasure. The dignity, the genial seriousness, the mutual respect with which he conducted an interview never prevented him from turning up the heat if needed. He did it firmly but with no personal edge.
I worked with Dave at the New York Times, and I know I speak for a generation of sports writers when I say he was the kindest and most generous of us all. When you were new to the beat and Dave met you for the first time, even if you didn’t work for his paper, he asked if there was anything he could do for you, anyone he could introduce you to. He was a great and gentle man.”
The last word here goes to the man who gave me my first words on Anderson, George Vecsey
Dave Anderson was happy and charming a lot; mostly he was busy, for decades, writing informed and timely columns — the ultimate pro.