Since the Stanley Cup playoffs began in early April, Staff Writer Peter Gammons has averaged a game a night. After one game last month he staked out a comfortable corner of the Cincinnati airport, awaiting a phone call from Hockey Editor Mark Mulvoy; three flights were departing within two minutes of each other, for Toronto, Los Angeles and Indianapolis, and Gammons would learn which he would be on only when all the results of the night's games were in.
Travel is nothing new for the 32-year-old Gammons, who went on the road with the Red Sox in 1971 for the Boston Globe. "My first stop was Yankee Stadium, the game in which Billy Conigliaro blew up at Carl Yastrzemski. A terrific baptism," says Gammons, who hardly needed an introduction to the Boston sports scene. "He has an encyclopedic mind for baseball and hockey, especially in Boston," says Hockey Reporter Angel Reyes. And why not—Gammons grew up in the suburb of Groton, where he went to the Groton School, and the Boston Garden was his winter hangout. Later, he attended the University of North Carolina, where he wrote for the Daily Tar Heel Sports Editors Curry Kirkpatrick and Larry Keith, who preceded Gammons here.
"When the Red Sox were in the World Series in 1967 I asked Gammons to write a story on the team and Fenway Park," says Keith. "He gave me a great feature and I ran it across eight columns of the sport section with a huge headline. The only thing I forgot to include was his byline."
By 1968, however, Gammons had enough bylines to persuade the Globe to hire him as a summer intern—the same job Mulvoy held in 1962 and Writer-Reporter Bruce Newman in 1974. Gammons was put on the staff in the winter of '69. Last summer The Wall Street Journal sent a reporter to travel with Gammons for about a week, and the night the Journal article appeared he had to fend off comments in the Fenway press box on his financial-page status. "I did it for my mother," he protested. "She always wanted her son to go into business."
But Gammons is a born sportswriter. "He has a marvelous rapport with athletes," Reyes says. So much so, in fact, that when he traveled with the Red Sox he used to pitch a little batting practice. "I made utility man Bob Heise feel like Ted Williams," he recalls.
Last Sept. 1, Globe baseball writer Gammons was in Fenway, watching Ferguson Jenkins tear his Achilles' tendon. Two days later he was SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S hockey writer, seated between the blue lines at the Montreal Forum, ready to cover the Canada Cup. Now it's the Stanley Cup.
Deprived by all this of his chance to pitch batting practice, Gammons has developed into more of a jogger, and now logs up to 10 miles a day. When he lived in Boston he never considered running in the Marathon: after a month in New York City he had run in two mini-marathons in Central Park.
Sorry, Heise, but it looks as if you're on your own.