Today was Rob Neyer’s last day at ESPN.com. I would say that one of any writers’ goals is to affect people’s lives somehow. Most of us never come close, but that’s what we tell ourselves, when we’re filling our little boxes and our Word documents. We like to think someone out there is listening and being inspired to do something, to think something, to feel something. We’re almost always wrong. But it’s what gets us through.
I can say without the slightest bit of hyperbole that Rob Neyer was one of those writers for me. When I was reading him on espnet.sportszone.com back in 1997, he opened up my brain in a way hardly anyone could have. In 1997, there wasn’t much I cared about on earth more than baseball, and Neyer’s writing was a revelation. He was a blast of cool air to the middle of my brain. How could I know so little about something I loved so much? I used to hit refresh on my browser repeatedly before I thought his columns would post, desperately wanting more more more, and if you were using Netscape like most of us were back then, you know that refreshing could take 15-20 minutes. It was always worth it. Some people’s — including Neyer’s — baseball education was Bill James. Mine was Rob Neyer.
I met Rob once, about four years ago, at some conference in Las Vegas. Some people are star-struck by athletes, or celebrities. I get star-struck by writers I love. I stammered and babbled my way to a five-minute monologue to him on how important his writing had been for me, and he was kind enough to nod obligingly before calling security. I was just honored to have the chance to even meet the guy. 1997 Will Leitch was agog. Heck, I even read his Fenway Park book.
Neyer’s not dying, of course: He’ll keep writing, and I’ll keep reading. But, as Jonah Keri put it earlier today, Neyer was a gateway drug, not just to baseball for me, but to ESPN.com, and to long-form, intelligent writing online, and the endless possibilities of what you could do with the Web. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Rob, so for that, I thank him, and you should blame him. Neyer affected tens of thousands of baseball fans. I am just one of them.

Today was Rob Neyer’s last day at ESPN.com. I would say that one of any writers’ goals is to affect people’s lives somehow. Most of us never come close, but that’s what we tell ourselves, when we’re filling our little boxes and our Word documents. We like to think someone out there is listening and being inspired to do something, to think something, to feel something. We’re almost always wrong. But it’s what gets us through.

I can say without the slightest bit of hyperbole that Rob Neyer was one of those writers for me. When I was reading him on espnet.sportszone.com back in 1997, he opened up my brain in a way hardly anyone could have. In 1997, there wasn’t much I cared about on earth more than baseball, and Neyer’s writing was a revelation. He was a blast of cool air to the middle of my brain. How could I know so little about something I loved so much? I used to hit refresh on my browser repeatedly before I thought his columns would post, desperately wanting more more more, and if you were using Netscape like most of us were back then, you know that refreshing could take 15-20 minutes. It was always worth it. Some people’s — including Neyer’s — baseball education was Bill James. Mine was Rob Neyer.

I met Rob once, about four years ago, at some conference in Las Vegas. Some people are star-struck by athletes, or celebrities. I get star-struck by writers I love. I stammered and babbled my way to a five-minute monologue to him on how important his writing had been for me, and he was kind enough to nod obligingly before calling security. I was just honored to have the chance to even meet the guy. 1997 Will Leitch was agog. Heck, I even read his Fenway Park book.

Neyer’s not dying, of course: He’ll keep writing, and I’ll keep reading. But, as Jonah Keri put it earlier today, Neyer was a gateway drug, not just to baseball for me, but to ESPN.com, and to long-form, intelligent writing online, and the endless possibilities of what you could do with the Web. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Rob, so for that, I thank him, and you should blame him. Neyer affected tens of thousands of baseball fans. I am just one of them.

  1. hellofriend reblogged this from leitch
  2. nothingtothetable reblogged this from leitch and added:
    I’m gonna miss Neyer
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  6. tanikaze reblogged this from leitch and added:
    A thousand dittos.
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