February 21, 2019

Nick Cafardo Of The Globe Dies Suddenly At Spring Training Camp, Age 62

Shocking news from spring training camp:

Boston Globe sportswriter Nick Cafardo suffered an embolism early this afternoon, collapsing outside the Red Sox's clubhouse. After being attended to by Red Sox medical personnel, Cafardo was taken by ambulance to Gulf Coast Medical Center, but doctors could not revive him.

Cafardo was only 62 years old. He had worked for Globe since 1989.

Dan Shaughnessy, Globe:
Nick Cafardo worked in a profession peppered with competitive souls, jealousy, and millionaire athletes accustomed to being praised unconditionally. One of the best baseball writers of his generation, Nick managed to cover the sport without generating any hard feelings. Everybody liked Nick. The man had no enemies. For a baseball writer in 2019, that's impossible. ...

Nick was the ultimate beat guy, the ultimate baseball guy. Major League Baseball is all about showing up every day for the full 162 games. And that's what Nick did. ...

"Nick wasn't even supposed to be at the ballpark Thursday," Globe deputy sports editor Scott Thurston said. "But he loved being over there. He must have been getting some material for the Sunday notes." ...

"I never saw the man in a panic," remembered [Globe photographer Stan] Grossfeld. "Not on deadline. He was smooth and steady and had a million contacts, all of whom probably smiled when he called them. He was a gentle soul. I never saw him yell or raise his voice. He was a newspaperman to the core." ...

What else can we tell you about the man? We teased him because he never had cash. He was forever borrowing your phone charger. He didn't wear shorts in Florida because he thought he had chicken legs. Nick thought the NHL was going to hell and blamed it on players wearing helmets (we thought he simply missed the Esposito brothers).

He was a routinely rumpled sportswriter, but when we saw him wearing a sharp blazer, we knew he was scheduled for a television appearance. Nick wrote several books and has a new one coming out this summer with Jerry Remy.
John Tomase, WEEI:
One of the first lessons you learn in the press box is that you'll encounter two types of writers: those who accept and encourage you from Day 1, and those who look right through you until you've paid your dues.

The latter camp outnumbered the former when I joined the Red Sox beat for real in 1999. There were a lot of crusty old-timers in those days, and it's not that they weren't friendly, necessarily, but they weren't going to go out of their way to point you in the right direction, either. They had a job to do, and it wasn't babysitting.

Then there was Nick Cafardo. I began covering pro sports at the Eagle-Tribune in Lawrence as a nobody with a freaking ponytail. He had no reason to pay any attention to me, but was immediately friendly, warm, and kind. ...

He also exhibited the ultimate sign of confidence -- magnanimity. We technically competed on the Red Sox beat, but those rare times I beat him on a story, he was generous with praise. I remember his indignation over a small story in the grand scheme of things, Red Sox right-hander Brad Penny calling in 2009 to tell me he had requested his release.

"How'd you get that!" Nick exclaimed. "I was working on that all day and then that (expletive) called you!?!"


"Nice job."
Various tweets, posted at SoSH:
Peter Gammons‏, @pgammo: "I don't know what to say when a longtime friend, colleague and sidekick, Nick Cafardo, passes away so tragically. It is a horrific, sickening day. For anyone who knew and respected him."

Steve Buckley‏, @BuckinBoston: "Nick Cafardo's passing has stunned all of us here in Fort Myers. One of the giants of our business, Nick was a kind, decent man who brightened the press box. As someone who sat next to him for more than 25 years, I can attest to his good nature."

Amalie Benjamin, @AmalieBenjamin: "I've been stunned since I heard. Nick could not have been nicer to me when I was just starting out at the Globe. He was a wonderful beat partner for years and, of course, will be missed. My thoughts are with his family."

Andrew Marchand, @AndrewMarchand: "Tragic news about a great man, Nick Cafardo. Nick was not only a top reporter, but always a friendly face at Fenway or Yankee Stadium."

Bob Nightengale‏, @BNightengale: "I absolutely loved this man. Nick Cafardo was one of the greatest people I've ever met in this business, and such a dear friend. Absolutely heartbreaking. The sports world lost a great one, and I can't tell you how much we will miss him."

Keith Olbermann, @KeithOlbermann: "Nightmare news from spring training. He was one of the true good guys - with everybody. #RipNick"

Mike Lupica, @MikeLupica: "There are simply no proper words to describe the sudden loss of Nick Cafardo today. There was no one in our business more respected. There was no one who was ever better company at the ballpark. He was a wonderful writer, and even more of a gent. Too young, far too soon."

Tim Kurkjian, @Kurkjian_ESPN: "We are crushed. They don’t get better personally and professionally than Nick Cafardo. Rest In Peace, my friend."

Seth Mnookin, @sethmnookin: "This is so, so sad. I met Nick 15 yrs ago when I first wrote about @RedSox; he was always kind, patient, & his passion for baseball shone through everything he wrote. The outpouring of grief from colleagues & baseball players alike says everything. Condolences to family/friends."


FenFan said...

For perhaps the one and only time this spring, I tuned in at 6:30PM Red Sox Report on NESN and it of course started with Tom Caron reporting the news on Cafardo's passing. Next to him was a visibly shaken Pete Abraham, who was doing every in his power to hold his composure in front of the camera (and no one would have blamed him for losing it at some point).

It was interesting to hear from Abraham, as we have observed for years here, that Cafardo was sometimes stuck in the past in terms of rule changes and the importance of statistical analysis (to paraphrase Abraham, Cafardo wished that baseball was still the way it was in 1968). That said, clearly Cafardo had a profound effect on so many baseball writers locally and across the country, and to pass at such a young age... damn.

Godspeed, Nick.

allan said...

I disagreed with Cafardo on the current state of baseball and his lack of curiosity annoyed the hell out of me - though, strangely, everyone says he worked his ass off for a story - but I was truly shocked and saddened to hear about his untimely death. (I guess every death is untimely, really.)

The quotes from his colleagues go far beyond the sometimes perfunctory statements we read when someone in a certain industry dies. He clearly had the respect of his fellow scribes and it seems safe to say he truly was a kind, thoughtful, concerned friend and lover of baseball.

I wonder if he had any health issues prior to this or if it truly came out of the blue. Either way, it's fucking scary when you realize that you could be standing somewhere, anywhere, and have only a minute or two more of life. We all know this to some degree, but it's such a bleak, helpless feeling, we'd have serious troubles if we didn't push it away most of the time. (And while 62 is not quite just around the corner for me, it's close enough.)