With Dennis Danziger

“The 7 Questions” is a sports questionnaire—the Eephus way of capturing a snapshot of the fan’s life. From writers to artists and beyond, we bring you answers most weeks.

Today we get the answers from Dennis Danziger, author of the novel A Short History of a Tall Jew and The Richard Nixon Sex Tapes (a play-in-progress), and columnist for the Good Men Project.

1. When was the last time sports made you cry?

2016 NBA Finals, Game 7. Cleveland, City of Champions. Finally! In 2002, I married into a Cleveland sports-crazed family. Dinner conversations are laced with references to Bob Waterfield, Craig Ehlo, and the Curse of Rocky Colavito. My father-in-law, who played o-line at Case Western Reserve, is 92 years old and waited 52 years for a Cleveland championship. When the final buzzer rang, my wife, Amy, and I embraced and cried.

2. What’s your most treasured piece of sports apparel or memorabilia?    

In 1961, at age 10, I spent a morning in the lobby of a Cincinnati hotel hounding St. Louis Cardinals for autographs. On the back of a Crosley Field postcard, I scored signatures from Bob Gibson, Stan Musial, Tim McCarver, and Al Cicotte. Cicotte was the grand-nephew of Eddie Cicotte, a pitcher who was banned for life for taking part in the Black Sox scandal. His was my favorite autograph.

3. Competed in any sports lately, at any level?  

For 26 years, I played in the same Sunday afternoon full-court basketball game with the same guys. Then my Medicare card arrived in the mail and I switched to doubles tennis. Occasionally, at the gym some 20-somethings will see me shooting, figure I can still play, and ask me to join them in a game of 3-on-3. I know better, but can’t resist. I figure since I have to die one day, might as well be while trying to hit the open man.

4. What’s your desert island sports movie or book?

Roger Kahn’s The Boys of Summer, and Hoop Dreams. Both are beautiful studies of race, class, and sport in America.

5. What do you like to eat and drink while you watch sports?

I don’t like to eat or drink while watching sports because usually I don’t enjoy or even notice what I’m inhaling. It’s just a nervous intaking of calories. I can easily gain five pounds watching a three-hour sporting event. I try to avoid the pizza, cheese board, cookies, Coca-Cola, and bowls of peanuts and M&Ms that are spread out on the counter of my friend Mike’s mancave, but I always fail.

6. What’s the greatest length you’ve gone to watch or attend a game?

Well, this is embarrassing: 2,764 miles. On my honeymoon, Amy and I traveled from L.A. to the Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown, N.Y. The game was boring, but we spotted Pete Rose signing autographs for large sums of cash. Is there a law against former Major Leaguers extorting money from nine year olds?

7. Ever caught a foul ball?

No, but a few years ago, I’m at AT&T Park, with Amy, Jeff (her friend from high school), and his wife, Susan. I randomly hand out the tickets. Third inning, a foul ball comes our way. It lands at Susan’s feet and she calmly picks it up and pockets it. I have been regularly attending baseball games since I went to Yankee Stadium in 1959 and that night at AT&T was as close to a foul ball as I’ve ever come. We sat boy/girl, boy/girl. But had we sat girl/boy, girl/boy. That ball would have been mine. Game of inches.

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