No sport has inspired better writing than baseball, and no one writes baseball better than Tom Verducci.
Unlike Frank Deford, Jim Murray or Rick Reilly – brilliant journalists who wrote about a variety of sports — Verducci covers only baseball. A three-time National Sportswriter of the Year, he has been the most authoritative voice in the sport for more than 30 years. Verducci has done it all. A game and studio analyst for FOX and MLB Network, he has worked as a beat writer, columnist, feature writer, author and sideline reporter.
Providing an insider’s perspective on the game, Verducci may well be the most renowned baseball writer in history. The first non-former player to provide color for a World Series telecast since Howard Cosell in 1983, Verducci is brilliant. His articulate insights are crisp, clean and relevant, waning qualities in an era of verbose, cliché-addled commentary.
“I knew at a very early age that I wanted to combine baseball and writing. I’m just so blessed that it worked out for me.”
Born in 1960 and raised in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, Tom Verducci grew up in an athletic family. His uncle was former Brooklyn Dodger great Gil Hodges and his father, Tony, spent 36 seasons as head coach at Seton Hall Prep, voted the New Jersey football program of the century in 2000. The fourth of eight children and third of four boys, Verducci was a three-sport athlete at Seton, where he played football and baseball for his father.
Seton Prep won the state football title in each of Tom’s four years there. In his senior season, the Pirates outscored their opponents 330-6. A wide receiver on a team that ran the ball 99 percent of the time, Verducci scored the winning touchdown in the 1977 championship game. In a scoreless contest on a muddy field, Seton’s quarterback overthrew the tight end. The errant pass landed in the arms of Verducci, giving Seton the lead in a game it would win 14-0.
A talented left fielder, Verducci was good enough to walk on to a spot on the baseball team at Penn State. He joined the student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, and later landed an internship at Newsday. Named “Most Outstanding Journalism Graduate” in his class as a Penn State senior, Verducci graduated in 1982. He got a job in Cocoa, Florida, covering the Miami Dolphins for Florida Today.
“When I watched my father’s team play, I watched through his eyes: the eyes of a coach, not a fan.”
Newsday hired him a year later. While mostly assigned to high school sports, Verducci occasionally filled in to cover Mets and Yankees games. At 24, he was asked if he wanted to cover Yankees spring training in Fort Lauderdale. The decision was easy. “It was 15 degrees in New York and there was a foot of snow on the ground,” recalled Verducci. “I was covering high school hoops. At that time I was single, and Fort Lauderdale was the place to go for spring break. It was a seven-week assignment that included an expense account and condo one block from the beach.”
A New York Mets fan growing up, Newsday made Tom Verducci its national baseball columnist in 1990. Three years later, he joined Sports Illustrated where he has become the magazine’s senior baseball writer and contributor to SI.com. Verducci wrote the cover story for SI’s 2004 Sportsmen of the Year, the Boston Red Sox. The feature was included in The Best American Sports Writing 2005 Anthology.
Tom Verducci has enriched readers for more than three decades. The Sports Illustrated superstar looks for the extra insights that set his work apart from the others covering the game. He brings an intelligence and an instinct to writing about baseball. While other reporters rush to the star of the game armed with stock questions, Verducci waits. Patiently searching for the backup catcher or long reliever after the others have long left, the best writer in baseball eschews the sound bite for the nugget that tells the real story.
Despite his deep affection for baseball, Verducci has taken on the tough baseball topics — including drug, alcohol and steroid abuse among players. In 1995, he profiled former Mets teammates Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. In a piece entitled The High Price of Hard Living, Verducci wrote, “The career paths of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden began as parallel lines – twin, unbending inclines headed straight to Cooperstown. How could it be that instead we are left with this ugly tangle of trouble?”
“I don’t want mere quotes. I want information. And I want what’s true.”
Tom Verducci blew the lid off baseball’s Steroid Era. After speaking with former National League MVP Ken Caminiti and others about the PED problem in America’s National Pastime, Verducci penned Totally Juiced: Confessions of a former MVP. His landmark piece changed the baseball landscape forever.
Verducci joined MLB Network upon its launch in 2009. Three years later, he won an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Sports Personality/Sports Reporter category. In 2013, he was awarded a second Sports Emmy as a studio analyst, becoming the first non-former college or pro athlete to claim that honor. In addition to his role with MLB Network, Verducci has worked with FOX. In 2014 and ’15, he worked alongside Joe Buck and Harold Reynolds calling the All-Star Game and World Series.
Verducci has written several books, including Joe Torre’s Yankee Years and The Cubs Way. His seminal work may be Inside Baseball: The Best of Tom Verducci, featuring 21 of the author’s most gripping SI essays.
“It’s the closest thing to literature that you’ll find in baseball writing.” — Baseball columnist Bob Klapisch, on the work of Tom Verducci
Tom Verducci works hard to provide unique insight. In 2005, he tried out for the Toronto Blue Jays just to get one story. His epic works include The Left Arm of God, a 1999 SI cover story about Sandy Koufax. In the piece, Verducci wrote that the pitching legend should not be referred to as a recluse, as “a recluse doesn’t touch so many people with lifelong lessons of generosity, humility and the Zen of the curveball.”
A regular guest on the Dan Patrick Show, Verducci resides in Montgomery Township, New Jersey. He and wife Kristen have two sons, one of whom he managed as a ten-year-old to a 2006 Mid-Atlantic championship and berth in the Cal Ripken Baseball World Series.