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Joy Took a Backseat
Michael Bamberger
November 03, 1997
The author never knew why a fellow writer ruined his year on the dream beat
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November 03, 1997

Joy Took A Backseat

The author never knew why a fellow writer ruined his year on the dream beat

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"Didn't he come from the newsroom?" Bill Sr. said.

"That wouldn't be reason enough for Bill not to like him," Dorothy said.

"Oh, yes, it would," Bill Sr. said.

I called up Dykstra and asked him why he was so comfortable with Brown. "He had the rap down cold," Dykstra said. "He played the game, maybe not at a high enough level to make it to the majors, but at a high enough level so that he understood the game. He knew what a ballplayer goes through."

This surprised me; the highest level of ball Brown ever played was a Delaware County beer league. I don't think he ever invented a baseball history for himself. But I think he thought the way a ballplayer thinks, and in doing so he gave the impression that he was a player himself. Dissing writers and young flacks and stars such as Schmidt, who have no time for their teammates—that's what players do. By doing the same, Brown became an honorary player himself, a member of the team.

I went to the offices of Brown's paper and talked to his editor, Bob Tennant. He thought the world of Brown. He admired Brown's competitiveness, his drive, his independence, his work ethic. Ninety percent of the time, Tennant said, Brown's stories went into the paper without a word being changed. I asked him about Brown's "crisp, autumnal evening" game story.

"He pulled the wool over my eyes with that one," Tennant said. "I knew he was up to something, but I didn't know what. It was late at night, and I ran it." I asked if the story served the paper's readership. "No," the sports editor said. "But the base-hall season's long, and things can get boring."

I called up Larry Shenk, the Phillies' vice president of public relations. He's been with the team since 1963. He's seen thousands of baseball people come and go. Few, maybe none, perplexed him to the degree that Brown did. "He seemed so angry," Shenk said, "and I never knew what he was so angry about."

I asked Shenk if he knew why Brown never gave me a chance. "When you came onto the beat, you entered a war zone," Shenk said. "You were in a turf war, but you didn't even know it."

I visited Monica Cassidy in her home. She's a nurse, quite beautiful, smart, very private, still in love with her husband, still tormented by his death. On the shelves of her living room there were pictures of Brown, and on a coffee table she had assembled some of his clips. Brown was in San Francisco for the 1989 World Series when the earthquake erupted, and he covered that. He was in Los Angeles with the Phillies in 1992 when the Rodney King-related riots broke out, and he covered that, too. Those stories were at the top of the pile.

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