Gary SmithSports Illustrated writer Gary Smith announced that he was retiring this week.
To me, Smith is the dean of American sportswriting, and has been for a long time. He wrote long, in-depth pieces that explored their subjects better than any sportswriter in my lifetime. Today's preeminent sportswriters, like Patrick Hruby, all learned from reading Smith.
Peter King asked Smith what his own favorite pieces were this week, and they're all brilliant reads, so I'm going to link them here. If you want to experience the absolute apex of writing, read these:
Damned Yankee ("The 1997 story is about John Malangone, a catcher of great promise for the Yankees whose career was ruined by the hidden secret that 5-year-old John accidentally killed his uncle with a javelin.")
Ali and his Entourage (a story about what happens to an entourage when it dissolves, and it's both poignant and painful)
Coming Into Focus (an Andre Agassi profile that is amazing)
Like I said, these stories are the apex of writing, and "Damned Yankee" is one of the greatest, most haunting stories I've ever read.