Bob Hertzel: A Secret Disclosed

24 Apr

Bob Hertzel is a 75 year old Journalist who was born in New Jersey, and grew up knowing he was destined to be a sports journalist from a young age. Hertzel began his career writing sports for the Wilmington Delaware News Journal, but followed his dreams to the Atlanta Journal in Georgia to specialize in writing and covering baseball. The Milwaukee Braves were moving to Atlanta at the time, so Hertzel was thrilled with his decision to move.

Hertzel moved to Dayton Ohio to cover the Cincinnati Bengals during their first season, and then moved locations again to cover the Cincinnati Reds, the team he stayed with for over ten years. Hertzel even gave the Reds their nickname  ”The Big Red Machine“, and wrote two books covering them as well.

“The nickname was introduced in a July 4, 1969 article by Bob Hertzel in The Cincinnati Enquirer”

Hertzel explains a time when he was faced with an ethical dilemna regarding a baseball player for the Pittsburg Pirates, John Smiley. Smiley was known for being one of the best left-hand pitchers at the time, and showed up to practice one day with his pitching hand broken. The entire team made up an excuse for Smileys broken hand, saying that he had slammed it in a cab door the night before.

Later the same day, Hertzel was in Jim Leyland’s office hanging out and having casual conversation like they did on a regular basis. Leyland was the major league baseball manager at the time, and informed Hertzel that Smiley actually broke his hand the previous night when he got in a fist-fight at a bar, and ended up punching someone.

Hertzel felt that he could not use this information to make the team look bad, as he was talking to Leyland off the record, and didn’t want to ruin the trust and relationship he had acquired. He says that he would only write about topics that were already published in press releases, although looking back he is not sure that this was morally right.

Hertzel says it was difficult at the time to write about anything that would damage the teams reputation because he had such a strong relationship with the members of the team, and would hang out and party with them on a regular basis after games and practices. He explains how this made it difficult to accurately cover his beat, but that it was a different time, and that there were a different set of rules for covering baseball.

After taking the time to listen to Hertzel’s reasoning, I think he did what was best for him and the team he was representing at the time. However I think that if Smiley had severely hurt, or  killed someone, it would be completely unethical to hide this information from the public. I also think that Hertzel’s close relationship with the team was the route of his problems, because it made it almost impossible to report the information he needed to be reporting.

Hertzel has covered five Super bowls, and over 30 World Series, but recalls how his time spent writing for baseball was by far his favorite.

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