AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: DATE: 6/16/2004 11:55:00 AM ----- BODY:

Tribute

In case you didn't know, ESPN.com's Page 2 is one of my favorite sites on the Web, in any category. Recently one of their staff, and an all-time great sportswriter, Ralph Wiley, died at the age of 52. Who better to give a stirring eulogy for the man than his fellow writers? In their section called Remembering Ralph Wiley, they did just that. I didn't follow Wiley's career--in fact, I can't really remember, off the top of my head, any of his columns or articles. But I know that by the time I got through reading these tributes, tears were standing in my eyes. Especially at this one, by Tom Friend, a senior writer for ESPN, The Magazine:
After my last visit with Ralph, as we sat courtside with Spike Lee before a February Knicks game, it dawned on me who he was: He was James Earl Jones' character in "Field of Dreams.'' The black voice of his journalism generation. And so, along those lines, that's what happened Sunday night: he walked into that Iowa cornfield. To get a friggin' great story. I wish I could read that piece someday, Ralph. Wish I could read it.
I can't say I grieve for Ralph Wiley. But that simple paragraph or so called to mind all the people for whom I do grieve. Just six sentences captures the wistfulness, the affection, the anger, and the loneliness of grief. If I am never in a position to be remembered like that (and, really, how many people ever are?) I pray simply that I may ever, ever write six sentences that powerful.
--------