Peter Gammons is perhaps the best baseball scribe of his generation.
You’ve seen his bylines from everywhere from the Boston Globe to ESPN to The Athletic. And in 2005, he was honored with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for outstanding baseball writing during that year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown. He was selected in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America, as his peers recognized him for his coverage of the sport both in print and on the airwaves.
It was only a year later that Gammons’ obituary was pre-written by one of his closest peers.
In 2006, Gammons had just returned from a weekend White Sox-Astros series in Chicago, before he suffered a medical episode while operating a motor vehicle. As he experienced a brain aneurysm, Gammons somehow had the wherewithal to pull his car into a parking lot and place his driver’s license on his sternum.
“I remember nothing about that,’’ Gammons recently told the Sports Business Journal, which did a tremendous profile on the longtime writer. “It was just one of those inexplicable things that humans do.”
And fate seemed to be on Gammons’ side that day.
Not only did a retired nurse discover him in the parking lot, but Dr. Arthur Day, The Chief of Medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was supposed to be playing golf, but his golf partner never showed. He was available to perform the surgery and inform Gammons’ wife, Gloria that the brain aneurysm that he had suffered was a “two-percenter.” That means that Gammons had a 2% chance of being able to fully recover.
When Dr. Day opened Gammons’ skull, the aneurysm burst.
His status wasn’t currently known at the time, but the prognosis his ESPN colleagues received wasn’t exactly promising. Vince Doria, now an executive at ESPN, called Tim Kurkjian and told him to prepare an obituary for Gammons.
It was Gammons who got Kurkjian his gig at ESPN, but that didn’t exactly come with the caveat that he’d be tasked with writing his close friend’s obituary.
“I wrote Peter Gammons’ obituary in full tears,’’ Kurkjian tells the Sports Business Journal. “I mean, I was weeping as I was writing. Hardest story I’ve ever written in my life.’’
Fortunately, it wasn’t needed. Once Gammons made a full recovery, Kurkjian told his friend that he was tasked with writing his obituary. And as only he could, Gammons said that perhaps one day he’d get around to reading it.
16 years later and Gammons is still a prominent voice in MLB media. And even at this late stage in his career, people still want to know what he has to say; his impact on the game was and is that profound.