Welcome to the latest edition of the Fury Files, which are currently defending themselves in a million dollar lawsuit brought by Rockford. Check out all the previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Michael Kruse, Chris Jones, Chris Ballard, Roland Lazenby, Will Leitch and Patrick Reusse.
This week’s guest is Peter Richmond, a former newspaper reporter who went on to become one of the country’s best magazine writers at GQ and is now a best-selling author. He’s also been a planning board member in a small village in New York.
Richmond graduated from Yale, where he studied under the legendary John Hersey and David Milch. I’d say more about that but I’ve already given away too much and Richmond talks all about it below. Richmond’s been honored numerous times in the Best American Sports Writing series and his 1992 story about Tommy Lasorda’s son, Tommy Jr., who died of AIDS, earned a spot in The Best American Sports Writing of the Century. If anyone ever produces a book called The Best American Sports Writing of the Millennium, the Lasorda piece will find its way there as well (the story is now available online on the Stacks section of Deadspin and has been anthologized in the BASW series and in the book Fathers & Sons & Sports).
The author of numerous books, Richmond is currently working on a biography of Phil Jackson. Previous efforts include My Father’s War: A Son’s Journey, a book that detailed Richmond’s efforts to discover just what it meant when he heard his late father (who died when Richmond was a young boy and had won two Silver Stars in World War II) described as a war hero. In 2010, Richmond wrote Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders. Among his other works? Ballpark: Camden Yards and the Building of an American Dream, and Fever: The Life and Music of Peggy Lee.
Richmond has a style that makes writing look easy, which disguises the fact his stories only read like that because of his talent and the exhaustive work that went into reporting his pieces and books. While he spends most of his time these days working on books, his words still pop up elsewhere. Check out his Grantland piece about how America can’t build a decent sports stadium. Or his story for SB Nation Longform about the world championship of blind baseball. And here’s his 1990 piece about Bill Murray. This past week he wrote on Bronx Banter about Hall of Famer Bernard King and his forgotten arrests, and I can only imagine the angry letters he received from Knicks fans. A devoted New York Giants fan — he also wrote a best-selling book with Frank Gifford about the famous 1958 title game — Richmond hosts a radio show about Big Blue, which was the subject of a New York Times story. And be sure to check out Richmond’s website.
Here, Richmond talks about studying under legends, the badass Raiders, the mysterious Phil Jackson, Phish, his writing style, why Cincinnati hated him, why Tommy Lasorda stopped talking to him, his evolution as a writer and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Peter.