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Marty Lurie Hits One Out of the Park

[As one last class assignment about interviewing, we had a group interview with baseball historian and broadcaster Marty Lurie, whose radio program airs before every Oakland A’s game. Marty is a good sport–pun intended–and this was fun. He gave me permission to publish this interview.]


Marty Lurie is telling another story.

“I used to think about who was killed the night before and hope the defendant would call me,” Lurie says, talking about his life as a criminal defense lawyer in a one-hoss office before he became a beloved baseball broadcaster in a one-hoss office.

Lurie leans forward, hands splayed like catchers’ mitts, jabbing the air as students scribble furiously. It is a writing exercise about interviewing. Lurie–the interview subject, a radio man, a baseball historian, a displaced Brooklynite, and clearly a storyteller–has become unleashed, racing around the plates again and again to the roars of a cheering but bewildered crowd.

“I met Lowell at the ballpark,” he tells us, referring to our writing teacher, Lowell Cohn, also a sportswriter. “People say we look alike.” Perhaps. Lurie looks like a white Dave Dinkins, which is to say he looks vaguely like a lot of guys who grew up in Brooklyn or on Orchard Street in the first half of the last century. I don’t know how sports broadcasters usually dress, but Lurie is in the official uniform of older Jewish men: Rockports, neat khakis, pressed golf shirt, a zippered jacket. Crisp mustache. His Rockports wiggle as he talks. And talks. And talks.

“For a 7 p.m. game I get there at 3:30,” he tells us. I want to ask Marty what he eats, if he dines on baseball hot dogs, but I am too shy and he is talking too fast, and besides, his voice is addictive, not mellifluous or booming but friendly and direct, like the lox men at Zabar’s pushing the nova.

We have asked four questions. Lurie has been talking almost nonstop for two hours. Oakland has many Jews and Italians. He wakes up at 5:30 every day happy to be alive. We like the stuff on his website about the Negro League? We should go to the museum in Kansas City, it’s great!

Students stop writing, massage cramped hands.

“Every day is another story,” he tells us. “I’ve seen ten thousand games. A fabulous story that’s been going on one hundred and twenty years.” His Rockports wiggle. Lurie smiles.

Hands again lifted high, Lurie surges on about life after criminal law: “Now I wake up and want to see the box scores.” His eyes look at us, but also through us. He is not in this tired-looking classroom surrounded by scribbling students bent over notebooks. He is standing in his driveway of a morning, reading the sports section of the Chronicle; or he is in his office recording a broadcast about baseball in the 1930s; or he is in the press box soaking up the joie de vivre of the first game of a new season. Or maybe he is reliving winning the big case all over again. I don’t even know what box scores are, but when Lurie talks, catchers’ mitts waving, I want to wake up and see them, too.

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