This show can book anybody, living or dead. Tonight, on remote, a big surprise. "Billy Martin, where are you now?"
"I can't believe I'm on Sportsnight! I thought for a minute you were just Mickey Mantle. Well, I'm in kind of a bad place right now. This one devil keeps grabbing my crucifix...."
Once when I was hanging with Reggie Jackson for a story, a golf p.r. guy punched me in the eye. I grabbed the p.r. guy's leg, thinking I could tump him over or something, but he was lanky and I was only able to send him hopping backward across the room. To be fair, I wasn't accredited for his tournament. And that story was for Rolling Stone, after I started freelancing so I could write about Gilda Radner, Duck Soup and the Ku Klux Klan. Reggie's theory was that the p.r. guy was mad at him, for being bigger than the tournament, and took it out on me. If Reggie had been riding with the Archduke Franz Ferdinand when he was shot, plunging Europe into World War I, Reggie would have assumed that he was the assassin's intended target.
That's one reason Reggie was so great to cover. The first story I did on him, for SI, began with Reggie naked, swinging his 37-ounce bat, whupp, whupp, and sharing with me his appreciation of salient parts of his body. He wasn't sure he wanted to be photographed even just bare-chested, though, "because my peers might not like it," he said. "And I am one of my peers." The story ended with Reggie asking what other players were saying about him. I told him they kept summing him up with, "That's just Reggie being Reggie."
"Yeah," he said, looking proud but a little troubled. "I wonder what they mean by that?"
Kornheiser defects to do the thing with Michael Wilbon. "O.K., who needs him. Who even needs a guest—hey, LeBron, come back tomorrow night. I'm of a mood to talk about my youth. Tonight on Sportsnight, it's just your old Sportsnightster being your old Sportsnightster."
In the summer of 1960, a crusty Scottish veterinarian was showing me around a bluegrass farm in Lexington, Ky. He moved a thoroughbred mare's tail aside and told me to hold it there. He put on a long rubber glove, inserted his arm elbow-deep into the mare's rump and pulled out a lot of green poop that was blocking his view. Then he inserted a speculum into the mare's other back door, peered inside, nodded and urged me to take a look. "You'll need a mind's-eye view of that," he said.
I looked only long enough to be polite. Polite toward the vet and, insofar as possible, toward the mare. "I'm not going to be a veterinarian," I explained.
"Your first dilated cervix, and you lose the stomach for this work?"
"No," I said. "I'm a prospective sportswriter."