The gentleman said right up front that he didn’t wish me to die, at least not at any time soon. What he hoped for, he said, was that my children got rectal cancer and died, painfully, in front of me. That would serve me right, he was implying, for saying something he did not appreciate about his favourite hockey team.
Well, I thought, as long as the punishment fits the crime.
Other emails, always anonymous of course, have more directly wished every possible painful death upon me, or commented freely and usually disparagingly about my appearance, background, family, thought processes, teeth, genitals (a true favourite), hair, hairline, waistline, apparel, choice of friends, immigration status, emigration status and, once, the vehicle I drove. The guy had no idea what I drove, but he just knew it was a horseshit car. Occasionally, someone would simply disagree with what I wrote without feeling the need to bear arms. Even more occasionally, they would agree with something I said. My favourite email once told me that while I was right about everything I had written that day, I still was a piece of shit. That kind of suggestion makes a guy feel . . . better?
I think back 30 years, to the time Blue Jays fans were first getting up on their hind legs and making their feelings known en masse to chroniclers. When someone or something in print displeased them, or they merely had what they thought was a better idea, they put thoughts down on paper, addressed and stamped an envelope and went to the post office to mail it. I always figured, since they went to that trouble, that I owed them a read of their thoughts. Hell, sometimes I even agreed with them. The best reader response you can get is the civil one that says, “I believe you’re mistaken and here’s why . . . ” Those often seem to be the ones that feature such antiquities as correct spelling and punctuation, too.
So there you have the opposite ends of one little corner of the newspaper business, a noble but (alas) slowly dying enterprise from which I now am happily retired after 40-plus years of labour. Perhaps people, meaning readers, are dumber and more vicious now than they used to be, or perhaps it’s simply the speed and anonymity of the internet that emboldens them to make personal attacks with impunity. I have given up trying to figure it out.
I said I was happily retired and I think I truly am, although every now and then the Blue Jays do something that causes the Toronto Star to try to lure me out of my chosen idleness, at least for a day. Plus, I got into the sports-talk radio business as a kind of a poorly paid hobby, doing the minor sidekick act now and then with Bob McCown on his national radio show. I suspect McCown, who is huge within the industry, wanted me around for two reasons: one is that he seems to have fought with every other co-host and parted company with them, as they say at the racetrack; and two, he remembers when he and I played on the same high school football team nearly 50 years ago and, possibly, he suspects I know where some of the bodies are buried.
Nah, not me. I was always better at burying the lead paragraph than bodies.
I began working at the Globe and Mail in 1973 while still studying journalism at Ryerson, moved over to the Toronto Star in 1977, worked full-time there until 2010, hung around as a freelance weekly sports columnist — the dreaded columnist emeritus, we called them when it was someone else — until 2013 and then went off to do a tiny bit of teaching and have my heart attack. In my time with both papers, I did everything imaginable, starting as agate clerk, copy editor, layout man, slotman, police reporter (very briefly), assistant sports editor, racing handicapper, racing writer, baseball writer, baseball columnist, sports editor and general columnist. That is almost chronologically correct, with my two and a half years as sports editor crammed in between the end of the Blue Jays’ first period of glory, in late 1993, to the beginning of, for want of a better description, the Tiger Woods Era in mid-1996. That time as sports editor is better left undiscussed, because neither me nor the job was suited to each other. I used to say I went into the job having zero children and soon had 31 of them. To be fair, you should hear what the staffers say about my time at the tiller.
I would hesitate to call it a highlight of my time as sports columnist at the Star, but one moment stands out for mostly ridiculous reasons and centred on Hulk Hogan and professional wrestling. Now, pro wrestling is not a sport, certainly. On the other hand, it is entertainment and it is popular, from time to time, among the masses, although I would guess the mouth-breathing segment of the population would seem to be more keenly appreciative. Regardless, WrestleMania was being held at the SkyDome and Hulk Hogan was in town to beat the drums for the show. The sports columnists of Toronto’s daily newspapers were invited to some kind of function. Mr. Hogan likewise attended and part of the shtick was that in order to provide gag photographs, he would put headlocks on certain invited guests including the sports columnists, which meant this one. I reluctantly played along, although once in the vise of his arm I was astounded less by Hogan’s size than by his miserably foul breath. I have no idea if this was a one-day occurrence or if this was a weapon he used to his advantage in the ring, but Jesus, it was gruesome. I think my eyes were watering.
This was the second instance of contact with pro wrestlers I could have done without. One late night in P. J. Clarke’s, the historic watering hole on Manhattan’s Third Ave. , I was tucking into bacon cheeseburgers with Tom Slater, my Star pal and fellow baseball writer. This was the late 1980s; I was still smoking cigarettes and it was still legal to smoke cigarettes in restaurants. (These days, I believe it is a capital offence even to talk about such a thing. ) So there we were, at one of the little tables in Clarke’s back room and no more than two feet from another tiny table, this one occupied by a very large wrestler named the Million Dollar Man, who was billing and cooing with a very sweet young thing. The wrestler, whose legit name was Ted DiBiase, leaned over and tapped me and asked if he could take one of the cigarettes from my pack, sitting on the table. Help yourself, I told him. He lit up.
Almost immediately, the sweet young thing desired nicotine and Ted again leaned and tapped and asked for a nail. Permission was happily granted. They enjoyed their smokes, they chatted, we chatted and drank and, a while later, came another tap and another request from Ted.
Well, enough was enough, right? Before I thought about the wisdom of my intended response, I had blurted out, “For crissakes, you’re the Million Dollar Man. Can’t you buy your own goddamn cigarettes?”
This was not entirely clever. With a few possible exceptions, pro wrestlers tend to be steroid-addled monsters of debatable intelligence. And here was I, couple of drinks in me, insulting one of them in front of his girlfriend for about 30 cents’ worth of tobacco. Ted’s eyes narrowed. He was not pleased. I suspect I realized what I had done, because I laughed nervously and pretended to be joking. If I remember correctly, Slater jumped in and helped defuse the moment by proffering his own pack of smokes. We left shortly afterward.
Other than the state of Hulk Hogan’s breath, the only thing I learned from my term as SE is that one word applies to every sports fan who is asked, in surveys and such, what he wants in his sports section. That word is MORE. As in, they want more of what they want and they don’t necessarily care what anyone else wants. I kept correspondence for years — until burning it all in a cathartic moment a while back — which made me realize what I was up against when I was fortunate enough to be sports editor of the country’s largest newspaper. There were, because I counted and filed them, 131 various written pleas for more coverage. These would come from fans, officials, executives, parents and unidentified strangers, pleading for more information, and not only on the stuff you figured, like hockey, baseball, football, basketball, horse racing etc. , which we filled our pages with every day. We called this exercise, “shovelling 10 pounds of shit into a five-pound bag. ”
I was being urged to devote more space to things like darts, synchronized swimming, Frisbee, martial arts, wrestling (both amateur and professional), skeet shooting, bicycle racing, car racing, motorcycle racing, snowmobile racing, skydiving, orienteering, fishing, hunting and many others. My two favourite letters were from a person outraged because we weren’t covering the fireworks events at the Canadian National Exhibition and from someone else, who I always assumed had a straight face when they were adamant that we should have sent a reporter to a chili cook-off. Why should we have covered these two? Because they were “competitions. ” I was urged to give more space to sports for women, for aboriginals, for amateurs, for the disabled. Many letter writers made compelling arguments. A few made threats. A subdivision of 28 different and separate activities claimed to be “Canada’s fastest-growing sport. ” Which, as most physicists and mathematicians might agree, is a neat trick.
You get the idea. It’s why I suggested my time as a sports editor should remain mostly undiscussed, although perhaps I have already failed in that regard.
Anyway, to use one of my favourite words, whatever job I held, I always considered it the best job in town at the moment. I would suggest the quarter century I spent as a sports columnist at a big, rich paper that for the most part spared no expense to do things correctly is undeniably the best job in town, at least for a newspaper stiff. Which is all I ever wanted to be, at least after I got into the business.
I tried to pay attention to the events I covered and while I’m an accomplished talker, I’m a decent listener — and look at the opportunities I had to pay attention. I got close, as the title of this tome suggests, to the greats and the ordinaries of sport over the years while covering (deep breath) 10 Olympics games, 58 golf majors, 10 Ryder and/or Presidents Cups, a dozen Super Bowls, 14 World Series, hundreds of NHL, NBA and MLB postseason games and thousands of regular-season games. Plus thousands of horse races, even a few car races. On the other hand, no tennis, except during one Olympics. Not much curling, either, although I like curling and curlers and wish I’d had more opportunity.
I took pretty good notes and I had a pretty good memory, too, and loved to both hear and tell a good story. There’s a little Rolodex somewhere in my head and before age rusts it out, I thought it might be a good idea to put down some of these yarns on paper, or on a screen somewhere or a plastic key or whatever this activity ends up being. I have a little rehearsed patter of favourite stories that I can summon on demand when asked. I have my radio-grade stories and my stories that would get me suspended from the radio. There are inclusions and omissions from both lists.
Caution, to some degree, is not uncommon. Once, speaking to Arnold Palmer after Tiger Woods had hit his fire hydrant and gone through a very public humiliation over his infidelities, I angled toward a question I naively thought Palmer might possibly answer. Understand that when it comes to women, the young, dashing Arnold Palmer was positively catnip and, in a theoretical match, he could give Tiger three a side when it comes to female companionship and still beat him like a rented mule.
(An old-time golf pro once told the story that in their very early days as touring professionals, he and Palmer travelled from tournament to tournament, sharing expenses. One night, while splitting a hotel room, the phone rang in the wee hours. The golfer answered it and an angry man at the other end asked if he were Arnold Palmer. Surveying Arnold’s empty bed, he assured the man he was not. “I know you’re not. That bastard is out right now with my wife. You tell him when he gets back I’m coming down there and I’m going to shoot him. ” The golfer assured the man he would pass along the message and, before hanging up, added another thought: “Just so you know, I’m in the bed by the window. ”)
To get back to Arnold this day, I asked him as gently as possible whether he was glad the height of his fame occurred in an era without cell phone cameras and TMZ and Instagram sharing your every move with the world, exposing all the ‘gotcha’ moments. Arnold looked at me, but he didn’t want to play. “Not sure what you mean,” he said, before eventually adding, “I am sure we all have stories we wouldn’t want told unless we were dead — or our wives were. ”
Some of the subjects of those missing stories are not dead and neither are their wives. So best to let idle lawyers stay idle. There’s still plenty to go around. By the way, I’d like to think I’m in the bed by the window.
Chapter Four: Sneaking In to JournalismBasically, Richard Nixon helped me land my first real newspaper job. To be entirely accurate, it was a combination of Tricky Dick and a bad headline in the Globe and Mail. It was late in the summer of 1973, international intrigue around Watergate was at its peak and my third and final year of my journalism program at Ryerson was commencing. One of our courses was called masthead and involved a few weeks of editing and producing the Ryersonian, the daily (Tuesday through Friday) student newspaper. It was a little eight- or, occasionally, 12-page broadsheet that featured student writers, photographers and editors and, now and then, actually could be quite good. I was the editor-in-chief for six weeks and assembled a staff consisting of city, sports, photo and entertainment editors, copy editors, reporters, etc. On a parallel track, the Globe and Mail, in something of a quaint custom, asked Ryerson to send down a six-pack of third-year students for what was lovingly called a two-week “tryout” on the copy desk. There was a certain scouting element to it, of course, but it also was essentially cheap labour for kids anxious to please, even doing some of the grunt jobs a newspaper features. During my stint as Ryersonian editor, my number came up for one of these “tryouts. ” No worries. I worked on the school paper until it went to bed, usually by about 5:30 p. m., then hustled down to the Globe and sat on the copy desk until about 1 a. m. Kids just turned 20 had plenty of energy for such a schedule in those days. Now, one of my responsibilities as big-chief editor at the Ryersonian was to select the topic for, and cause to be written, the lead editorial in the little paper. (We all took this stuff seriously, by the way. ) I had decided that Richard Nixon, whose Watergate fingerprints were being revealed line by line pretty much every day, was worthy of a good whack from our earnest little publication. The idea seems ridiculous now, of course, that a mostly flimsy student newspaper in another country could leave any kind of scar, but, again, we took this stuff seriously and we had lived through Vietnam and Kent State and all the other atrocities that reaffirmed, to us anyway, that Richard Nixon was a Bad Man. In order to pan-fry him properly, though, there was some point of law to be referenced and off I went to the library to pull out books and research it. Something about the executive branch and the judicial branch and the legislative branch and where they all fit on this particular tree. (Nowadays you could do it in 30 seconds on the internet, but in those days it meant time spent thumbing through dusty old books. ) I found what I needed, wrote my scathing denouncement of the U. S. president and bolted for the Globe. That evening, I had been assigned to the foreign desk, which was literally knee-deep in wire copy about Watergate. The slotman, the maître d’ of the copy desk, was having trouble sorting out one or two arcane points and up chirped Perkins, freshly armed with some technical knowledge from his time in the library that very afternoon. Made it sound as if I very casually understood the minutiae about the executive and judicial and so on. “You know this shit?” the slotman asked. “Then carve this together into something readable. ”He threw me a basket of wire copy, which I then proceeded to trim and shape — using scissors and paste, which is how we did it back then — into a useful, coherent story. It ran on the front page and the managing editor, the next day, was complimenting the slotman who, to his endless credit, pointed at little old me and said I was the chief wizard on the topic. For the next two weeks I was, too. My “tryout” came and went and they kept asking me to come in and work on the foreign desk and sort out the Watergate copy. Five days a week. Between that and editing the Ryersonian, I didn’t get much sleep, but who cared? The Globe began paying me — $21 a day, in cash every Thursday. (I didn’t know it then, but this was the way to keep me off the books and out of the union’s scope of activity. Later on, I learned about this strategy somewhat painfully. )The custom at the Globe in those days was to handle the early edition of the paper, universally called “the bulldog,” by about 7:45 p. m., then break for an hour for dinner. The newsroom pretty much emptied, except for me, who could not afford to eat out. I would sit in the newsroom, reading the freshly printed bulldog, and eat my wrapped-up sandwiches. One day, a headline in the sports section caught my eye. It said something about the Oakland Athletics closing in on the East Division pennant. Now, I had always been a huge baseball fan, but it didn’t take much of a fan to know this was a dumb mistake, since Oakland wouldn’t be in the East Division of anything that didn’t start in Japan. I looked around; the newsroom was empty. I didn’t even know where the sports department was located, other than a vague sense that it was down yonder hallway. So away I went and not too far away, in a large, messy, glassed-in room with some sporting pictures on the wall, a white-haired man sat, chewing on a cigar, his feet on the desk. It was a sports editor out of central casting and so was his response when I knocked. The gruff old bastard growled, “Whaddya want, kid?” I gently pointed out the mistake, at which point he jumped to his feet, yelled “Jesus H. Christ!” at me and started bellowing. I did the only sensible thing. I ran away. Ran back down the hall, back to the foreign desk, got down as low as I could and concentrated on the last of my sandwich, wondering how I had gotten myself into this scrape. The other troops wandered back from dinner and the rest of the shift began, as usual. New stories replaced old stories and headlines and pictures were changed and newspaper life moved on. At one point, I looked up and there was that old white-haired guy . . . staring at me. He started toward me. I was trapped, felt doomed. “Are you the kid who showed me that goddamn headline?” he said. I stammered out an apologetic confirmation, at which point he cut me short. “I just came to thank you. You saved our ass. We got it changed before too many papers got out. By the way, who are you?”He was Jim Vipond, the Globe’s long-time and legendary sports editor and, I soon discovered, a fine guy and great boss. When he determined my status as a Ryerson kid on an extended tryout working five nights a week, he asked if I liked, or knew anything about, sports. I croaked out something acceptable and he told me he needed me Saturday night. There was no Sunday paper, but sports needed a junior man to clear the wires, alert editors to breaking news and mark up things like hockey summaries and race results that would be carried over to the Monday paper. (That’s one of the things I meant by newspaper grunt work. )Thus began my salaried foray into big-time sports journalism. The foreign-desk gig dried up, as a new recruit of third-year students showed up to try out. My sports job soon became five and sometimes six nights a week on the sports copy desk. The Ryersonian term expired and still I kept showing up at the Globe to find my name pencilled in to next week’s schedule. I even got a staff mailbox and every Thursday, a chit would arrive in an envelope that would entitle me to go down to the cashier’s cage and draw either $105 or $126 in cash, depending whether I had worked five or six days the previous week. This seemed like all the money in the world to a 20-year-old, who soon spent too much of it on booze on a night off. Several months into my Globe career, I had a free Saturday night and went to the Brunswick House, a venerable tavern that featured cheap beer, loud bands and an interesting client base. I had too many beers and upon leaving, tried to scurry across Bloor Street. A relatively new subway line ran under Bloor, but the old streetcar tracks, while falling into disrepair, had yet to be ripped up. Somehow, I tripped over one track and landed on the other, elbow first. Dislocated it. Friends walked me down to Toronto General and there I spent the night, sobering up and aching. A bandage and sling were added to my wardrobe as I resumed work at the Globe and that seemed to be the end of it, until a letter arrived from the hospital a couple of weeks later — along with a bill for something like $700. I had always been listed on my father’s OHIP for previous hospital sojourns for broken wrists and fingers and a messed-up knee as a kid. For this emergency room visit, I had handed in the same card I had used for years. Except my father had died the year before and I hadn’t obtained any coverage of my own despite being a “working” man. Shaken, I took the letter and bill into work. I asked advice from a copy editor named Bill Luscombe — a brilliant if pedantic guy with words who taught me more about the English language than anyone this side of Shakespeare. Luscombe, who also happened to be the union’s shop steward, said I had been working there long enough to surely be covered by the company hospital plans, etc. He walked me down another hallway to a tiny office. It was the newspaper guild office, where the union head listened politely to my story and then asked two questions: Who the hell are you and HOW LONG have you been working here?Too late to make a long story short, but this was the union officially discovering me and likewise finding the paper had been hiding me and paying me in cash and denying me benefits and so on, all in strict contravention of the contract. The union went crazy and the upshot turned out to be that given my time already spent in full-time employment, I had therefore officially passed my six-month “trial” period and I was to be considered a full-time employee entitled not only to overtime and benefits but also to back-dated overtime and benefits. And, of course, the paper needed to pay my hospital bill and enroll me in the various benefit plans immediately and so on. None of this made management too happy, of course. Clark Davey, the managing editor, called me in and yelled at me for being a troublemaker and said I would never amount to anything. He said — actually said to my face — that he considered Ryerson people “too stupid” to ever help him. I asked why, therefore, did the Globe always request Ryerson send down waves of third-year students for “tryouts?” His answer was for me to get out of his office. Welcome to the business. -The Globe gig was my first regular job, but was not actually my maiden voyage on a newspaper. Earlier that summer of 1973, I had a decent idea for a freelance piece. I noticed the Yankees brought up a pitcher named Dave Pagan from Nipawin, Saskatchewan. A Canadian pitching with the lordly Yankees! What a story. I called the three Toronto newspapers to pitch the idea. The Star said no, we have our own baseball writer who will do it. The Globe wasn’t interested. At the Sun, sports editor George Gross said he would love to have it and that if it was any good and the paper ran it, he would give me $100 for it. I called the Yankees and arranged for a press pass, jumped in my car and headed down. Gas was cheap and by taking the back highways I avoided the tolls of the New York State Thruway. I could make the trip for $100, no problem. I got a cheap motel outside New York and headed to Yankee Stadium. It couldn’t have worked better. A PR man named Marty Appel set me up with a pass and ushered me into the office of manager Ralph Houk. He called me “podner” and asked me if I wanted a drink. Pagan was great to talk to and I filled my notebook. The Yankees were playing the White Sox that weekend and I witnessed a small piece of history; knuckleballer Wilbur Wood started (and lost) both games of a doubleheader for Chicago and that remains the last time the same pitcher started both games of a major league twin bill. The next day, Appel told me that when the game ended, I was welcome at the press lounge, to have a drink while the traffic cleared. He told me to sit at a table. I obeyed. In trickled various writers and front-office people and ex-players. The table filled up. Whitey Ford sat down beside me. Yogi Berra was over there. People started telling stories. I sat there, slack-jawed and silent, sipping a Coke while they pounded back whiskey and told more stories. How good was this?At one point, Whitey Ford leaned over and said to me, “Where ya from, kid?” I croaked out “Toronto” and he said, “Hey, you must know my friend Shopsy. ” He was referring to Sam Shopsowitz, the bon vivant and fixture among the sporting crowd who also owned the city’s largest delicatessen. “No, I don’t know him, but I eat his corned beef,” I stammered out, which was pretty much the extent of my contribution to the conversation. The party broke up, the traffic cleared and I began the drive back to Toronto after this unbelievable day. “This business,” I thought to myself, “can be fun. This is the work for me. ”Back home, I wrote the story, three days later the Sun ran it and George Gross called me in to get paid. My foot was in the door — but not for long. The $100 Gross had promised me was forgotten. “I didn’t know you were a student,” Gross told me. “I can only pay students $25. ”Now, this was wrong. I held firm, spoke of the deal we had agreed to. Gross refused to budge and, knowing George as I later did, I suspect he planned to invoice $100, pay me the $25 and put the rest in his pocket. I told him to keep his $25 because he needed it more than me. Our meeting ended not what you would call amicably. Needless to say, that was the last byline I ever had in the Sun. Watergate was in the news, though. And you know where it led me a few weeks later. Chapter Five: Those Blue JaysFor a couple of years there, Kelly Gruber was a very good, if brittle, third baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays. Twice an all-star. Good with fans off the field. Did a lot of charity work. One year, he was nominated for the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, a spirit/character kind of honour. Gruber was clearly touched even to be mentioned for it. Except, like most ball players of his day, he didn’t know a thing about Lou Gehrig other than he was some kind of famous player from caveman days. “Ask Perk,” Lloyd Moseby said to Gruber one day in the clubhouse, after Gruber had wondered aloud about the man after whom the award was named. “Perk knows all that history stuff. ”Thus began the 39-cent explanation to Gruber and Moseby about the great Yankee first baseman, one that listed his achievements and concluded with a particular favourite stat: “. . . and one year, 1930, Gehrig had 27 homers and 115 RBIs . . . on the road. ”Moseby’s head snapped up. “What?”“Yes, he had 27 homers and 115 RBIs strictly in road games that year. Plus, they played only 77 away games back then, when it was a 154-game season. Gehrig had 175 RBIs overall that season. Plus, you know, 49 times Babe Ruth had just unloaded the bases in front of him. Pretty good year, huh?”Both Moseby and Gruber shook their heads in admiration, at which point Jesse Barfield happened to walk past. “Jesse, Jesse. Listen to this,” Moseby said, after which I told the same story, ending with the same stat. Barfield considered the information and said, flatly, “That’s impossible. ’’Assured that it was, indeed, correct and that they could go look it up, Barfield then switched the conversation to his favourite area. “So how much did this guy make?” he wondered. Told that Gehrig’s best salary was $33,000, Barfield chuckled and put it into his own personal focus: “How good could he have been if he didn’t make no cake?”Postscript to this story: Gruber saw a famous old photograph taken of Gehrig in the Tiger Stadium dugout, looking out at the field wearing a somewhat stoic expression the day his consecutive game streak ended in 1939. On the Jays’ next trip into Detroit, Gruber arranged for a photographer to pose him in the same pose Gehrig had assumed, at the same place in the same dugout, nearly 50 years earlier. That always impressed me, that he would arrange such a thing on his own.
“Dave had a particular knack for writing stories that read as if he were talking to you over a beer. I could always hear his voice in print. The greatest sports scribes have shared that breezy conversational trait. ” — Toronto Star
“Covering many of the biggest names and greatest events in sports, it’s a wonderful collection of yarns and reminiscences, told in Perk’s inimitable style, which always feels as though he has a beer in one hand, a cigar in the other, and is cracking wise. ” — Cam Cole, Postmedia News
“Few can spin a yarn with the wit and clever turns of phrase that Perky can. ” — Shi Davidi, Sportsnet
“Like the man himself, the contents are honest, irreverent, funny, entertaining, frequently off-colour and often politically incorrect. And, occasionally, emotionally introspective. ”— Golf Canada
“Anyone who has ever spoken to Dave Perkins, or read Dave Perkins, remembers his voice. This book is a delightful way to experience it all again, through the wise, funny man’s eyes. ” — Bruce Arthur, Toronto Star Sports Columnist
“Anyone who worked with Dave Perkins knew him to be the epitome of a newspaper man: smart, fun, tough-minded, and good-hearted. Those who never had the good fortune to share a road trip or a press box with him can read these well-told tales, many from a romantic era of print journalism now changing at a rapid pace, and feel like they were there for every interview, story, debate, cigar, and post-work beer. ” — Michael Grange, Sportsnet
“Dave Perkins is a great storyteller — on and off the page. What a treat to read these tales of his life on the sports beat. Almost makes me feel like I was there, sharing in the adventures (hey, wait a minute, a bunch of the time, I was…). The newspaper sports columnist, sadly is a dying breed, and Perk is a throwback, a true heir to Jim Coleman, Trent Frayne, and especially Milt Dunnell. We can’t read him every morning in the Star anymore, but awfully nice of him to take a break from retirement and provide us with this gift. ” — Steven Brunt, Columnist for Rogers Sportsnet
“Most of the stories are pretty universal, which means they are enjoyable for anyone who pays attention to sports in general. And there’s just enough venom and score-settling along the way to keep it interesting. ” — Sports Books Reviews Centre blog