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Huddle Up with Gus
Huddle Up with Gus

Episode · 2 years ago

Mark Kram Jr.

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Mark Kram Jr., son of acclaimed sports writer, Mark Kram, joins the Huddle to discuss his new book "Smokin' Joe: The Life of Joe Frazier" as well as his journey through the world of sports journalism. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

On today's huddle up with Gus, we haveone of America's top sports writers and leading experts on the Golden Age ofboxing and author of several books and a long time, senior writer for thePhiladelphia Daly News, the son of legendary sports ilstrated writer MarkCram. Please welcome into the huddle mark. Cram junior dayve in the huddletoday is mark, Ran Juior, just an author of a really great bookout. Thisyear about Joe Fraser Mark was or many years in Philadelphia. You toldme the numbers there eigh I years or yeah yeah. So it's just an incrediblesports writer has many many stories and I'm so excited to interview our secondauthor. Now that we've had on our show in our podcast. Oh me too, andespecially like mark sweet splot, is early s boxing, which is that's franddyeah day Dave David. I big sports fan so mark. Welcome to the show thank youfor getting in the huddle with us today sure great to bed. You thanks forHavping Me Long Yeh so day that I really wanted to start our show,because we've listened to many sports talk shows and we just got really tiredof the same old thing and we wanted it. We thought we could do it a littledifferent, so yeah, we start with all of our guests and we want to find outwhat, when you were a kid at what age or what time, who was thatinfluence wer? was that person wasnit an idol or was it a team that reallymade that spark of sports being important in your life? Well, my father was a featured writer at sports,illustrated during the Golden Age of sports writing. In the S and S he was acontemporary of all the names you've heard of Dan Jenkins, Frank Deford andmany others. He was the lead boxing writer in the S inearly s and he his name was mark gram and covered ally and Fraser all the three,the big three fights, and so, if anything sparked me, it was that he,you know he would always come home and sort of give me the inside. Bopoon,what was going on in the camps- and you know what he saw and heard and it sortof brought it alive and also he would come home and he would all have the NewYork papers in his bag, and I just gove into was his travel bag and and got allthe papers, the post and the Daily News. And you know you know, I didn't seethat we lived in Baltimore, so I didn't see it on a regular basis. So I justlove that, and you know he was very busy. He traveled the world so but whenI did see him he was he was my link to you know the career I would have, andyou know the interest that I would hold in sports growing up in Baltimore Wer you, aOrieles Fan, Colt Fan and all that yeah, huge or heall fan huge orial fan. Iwent to as many games as I could spend all my spare money on tickets togo to the GAT Oriol Games and you know I reflect back on it. You know thatthose teams- and so what did I get out of watching them play and they reallyshowed you winnter lose what greatness. Look like what achievement lookd likeand you know no one was more heart broked when they lost than I, but even that I seem to hold it in someperspective. They really tried their best. They were great athletes and theywere good guys. You know, I don't think I've met a man in this worm arl who wasa better guy than Brooks Robinson. You know I mean, and these were guys you'd see aroundyou'd see around town at that time. You know, you'd see him at the shoppingmall or at the gas station, or I had a friend who was picked up hitchhiking onrerort road by Johnny Anitis of all things I mean that was the kind ofculture that we had back then right and yeah, the Oriols, the colts,particularly the oriels. They were my guys. So if you were out young Mark Cram he's onhe corner, you got your play. WIFF aball, with all your buddies yeah, whowere you were you Brooks Robinson, was that your favorite player? Well, I spen. I mainly playedbasketball on the on playgrounds. I didn't play much sanlite baseballbasketball that was when earlmanro was coming, came into Baltimore in thelates in early, so everybody was early and the guys that you know just shotthe ball. They were Kevin Lockery, so you know just gunners, you know and yeah they were exciting team. We weregoing nose. The news with the New York teams. Every season it seemed like I wewere getting Gary heads handed to us, the mets, the jets, the the Nicks, andit was just just an exciting time to be a youngsports fan. So yeah. You know Werelman...

...row and you know sort of model myself after some of thebenchwarmers actually like it so you're growin up you did you play a lot of organized sports,like a lot of us played a lot of backyard stuff back in the day right.We all would just ride our bikes. Get Eur Friends, use your imagination,there's the atobounce. You know all that stuff and it's more organizedtoday. What organized sports did you play grown up? Well, you know I playedthe baseball little league and you know Pony League,and you know those sorts of things I and I played the High School Baseballand high school basketball, but I was second team, but you know I practice hard every dayand I went to the you know I mean I was I took. I took sports as far as myabilities could take me and you know like for everyone. It was frustratingwhen I couldn't take me any further, but you know you learn a lot fromsticking with sport, sports teachers, you how to stick with something and tofight through adversity. I really do think it's important for kids to learn thoselessons and you well. You know Guss, I mean really whan. You come away from fromplaying sports at a young age. Is You have dreams of being a pro? NotEverybody can be. That few can be that, but you you take away with it lesson.Youl apply to all sorts. Whatever you do in life. I really do believe that soyeah, no, I agree with you, and so many of our guests have said that when theywere young, they learned so many lessons from sports of of gettingknocked down, getting back up and being resilient and doing the things thatcarry out you on through life. For Myself, I broke my neck in ninth gradeand went through a lot of stuff being bullied in in school because I'mwearing a neck brace for nine weeks and all those things, and then I havesomething happened to me in the NFL. That was probably one of the mostembarrassing moments that y player could ever Hie up and then let me allthose experience I had as a young player. Let me overcome all that as anas an adult and that definitely, I think the what happens is it it teachesyou how to deal with defeat. Kids got to learn that you know losing being onthe short end, trying hard and not really getting your. I mean that's atthose are important lessons to deal with adversity that way without parentsintervening to that's a big thing: Yeahio, ere, stgain and saying you knowthis is my dad. You know was you know he had been a baseball player himselfin the minor leagues in the class, in the outlaw leagues back in the early S,he played army ball and he was a really good high school baseball player, andyou know he knew as much about this stuff as any of the coaches I playedfor, but he never intervened. He never got involved in my sports careerbecause he knew that he had a broadher out Lok. He knew that the that thatsports would be a teacher in a larger way than justwhat was happening that day yeah our parents never came like they would cometo some of the Litter League Games that were organized because you needed aride to get there. But when we were playing in thebackyard at home or youknow, n the basketball, pourt therewere, no parents, you figured out Ols, youfigured out if somebody gotten o fight like hey. Okay, it's over. Let's keepplaying things like Wais. That true I mean you worked out fouls. Who did whatI mean? It was great. You learn the art of negotiation right right. You learnall these things. You weren't aware of at the time you know. So, no because your dad was a writer focusing a lot of boxing Weo Boxing Fan.As a kid Y wel sure I watched the fights onSaturday afternoon on ABC they were carrying a lot of fights in the late s.That was the first time I saw Joe Frasier fight, which was you know in one of those one of thoseevents and then yeah. I was a huge. I was a huge ollyfan. You know I mean all the kids in my middle school that I went to. They wereall joe fracure plans because there was a suburban school in in Baltimore andtheir parent. They were fraser fans because their parents hated Ali so muchso they hated Alli because of the draft and a lot of his outspoken comments. Butbut I was the only aly fan I you know so everybody was leading on me thatthat's how old were you when the first boxingevent, you went to oh well, the first fight was, I was seventeen I was. I was seventeen and my father brought me to New York...

...as kind of an Enden to the schoolholiday. To See Joe Frager against Jerry quary is the second plight that they had inJune, one thousand nine hundrend and seventy four. So Dad brought me up and he got me a SI. He got me a ticket andhe was covering the fight for the magazine. So I I watched the fight, it was anunbelievable fit jjoe Tor quari apart and you know Joe Lewis was the refereeand he wouldn't stop the fight for some ofthe reasons and the writers and everybody screaming from Ringside Stopat Joe Stop and finally, you did and so dad you know, went back to the magazine the next nextday and rod rode his be so. I sat in the corner reading a paper while he waswriting, and so I really got the sense of thing, but it was in the context ofthat whole week. He had me up for the kind of the whole week and we had thesebig dinners of gallaghers and I really got a sense of the what the sportswriters life was like, and it was really glmorous to me. This idea thatyou know people knew who he was. He sort of came an came and went as he pleaysed and, ofcourse, he'd never had credit card, so hes always had a big roll of bills inhis pocket, and it was always the Eno the used to pall it whip out. You knowwhere he would. You know just be doking waiters and you know bartenders andthing I mean it was like a whole runonesse kind of life that he exposedme to. I say: Well, that's why, where my real education began right right, yeah, my my dad was a millguy in Pittsburg here and I got a different kind of education from himlike so certain words. You know that I learned at a very young age and I can'tsay on the PODCAST, but you know you learn so much from your parents thatyou don't even realize, and now I find myself doing a lot of that same stuff.Well, that's right! They sort of layer into you all the lot of the things, butyou pick and choose what you take and what you use. But as you get older, yourealize that you were given a lot of tools to work with and the question. As do you recognize that and work withthem? You know so, do you still do the whip out today, O I'm not a bad tipper, but I'm not likethat. Don't carry around! You know two hsanddollars worth of of bills of my pockets. To tell you afunny story, my my dad was a columnist at the Baltimore Son Back in fifty nineto sixty three and they were cheap outfit and really didn't pay anything. I think hethink he was making about seventy five dolars a week and you know- and so hegets this job at sports illustrated and the first assignment they want to sendthe desaskatune to do a profile of Gordy, Hal right and so at that timesports illustrated had a pay window where n papers ad. That too, where yousomebody an editor, would sign a voucher and send you up to get somemoney for your trip, some cash. They gave you an air travel card, but youalso had to get advanced money in cash, and so hi goes up to the window and the and the Lady Bot is a well. How much do you need and Thad said? Oh,I don't know I'm going to sit basket too, and Iguess I'll need about two hundred and the lady said you'll deed at leasttwothousand and started peeling off these bills. I said he was ruined atthat moment he got the whip I put on him like you,gothat oenbut. They were generous with expenses. They couldn't pay you a lotof money at that time, but they were real general ersed with expenses andthey expected you kind of build your life around your expense account lot ofways mark. Do you remember the first sporting event you wrote about maybehigh school or whenever boy well, that was with the Ballowour News American?Well, I went to Maryland University of Maryland. I guess I did some things there for the college paper, butprofessionally it was probably yeah. I can remember it was. I was withthe battomer news. America then I covered then patriots against the bills- and I was totally out of my I in a NFL,lock room. I had no idea what to do where to go to what to ask. I mean Iwas just really just so. I remember vividly I go up to Joede Lamalor right, the a foills and and the just shakes his head and saysJimmy Ulson. Just no great inerty was a good guy boye. just let me he didn't. He didn't. He was a little rough with me, but youknow what I was not ready for. Prime time, I wasn't even ready, for you know...

I just wasn't ready, but you know W atO. Learn you learn as you go. Yeah there's no script for that, but butgoing into college like wh n. What did you write for high school paper or donow? I played some ball and I was kind of shy and and kind of backward and really didn't.Really. I really didn't really have any writing ability at all. I mean I wasvery slow. I was a poor reader. You know I mean so I stayed with it. You know you trial and error. That'swhat it's about! You know. You teach yourself one one word at a time. Youknow what did you major in in college American Studies, but I didn't finishit Mariland. I only went for two years: okay, safe to get a job. I was involvedwith the old Washington Star. I did a lot of. I did a lot of freelance work with themand I happened to do it article that with another guy, that we got a lot ofattention and I ended up getting creditald enough toget a job at the news American for like two hundred a d twelve dollars a week,and so that sort of got me going that'll get you. So did you eally writeabout sports or did you take on the news and other things at first? I triedthe news, but sports was much more interesting to me because you couldtouch on the same subjects that you do in news in sports, but you had muchmore of a latitude to be able to write with flair and and people wereinteresting and the stakes were high and the drama. You know the whole thingabout sports really kind of drew me in I. You know on the news side, you'regoing to councel meetings, and you know some guy. You know I don'tknow, ' got a bad case of crab grass growing and you got to go out and do afeature and that I don't know not that these aren't important h stories, butyou know for a young guy, I like being around the the action right right. No,I totally understand so who was your first really like intense interview, boy, intense, oh man. Besides Joe Jola malear staringyou down that wasn't intense. That was more humiliating. If you happen to see him around saytell them thanks for me. I will. I do see him at the superbowl every now. No, I don't know sees it's hard toremember. Jeez. I don't know when I got into the longer feature:writing AAll. The stories were kind of intense interviews. You know I I especially when people found themselvesin sort of difficult situations in their career.I'll, give you an example. I went for Bottleboron to the DetroitFree Press and one of the stories back in eighty four. I guess it was oreighty three there was a reallytive pitcter who couldn't find the strikezone anymore. He was a popular guy named Ricshow, sit shows, say, greatknow if you remember that name, but he he just he was kind of driven out ofbaseball because he couldn't throw the ball over the plate. So I went down andspent a some time with his him and his family, and we talked about what youknow that whole thing and that you know that's the kind of intense in detprobing kind of story that I would do so. I came back and wrot like fourthousand words on what happens to a man when this sort of thing happens. SoI'll try to look for stories that were in the margins of sports. You know thatsort of were away from the huddle. If you will right just give a sense reallywhat's going on with these guys. So at what point did you you had a longcareer at the Philadelphia Daily News right is that was that after this, then,is that when you started that Jo, I started at the Daily News in eightyseven, I came down from Detroit and we made Ma. We made our home outside ofPhiladelphia for that period of time was a tabloid, but it was a tabloi thatnot like the tabloys that you think of it's it was they had a lot of was a great sports section. I know ifyou remember it cus, but we had really good writers columnist long features I mean we haddeppage counts. We had lot of expense money, so we reallytried to cover it in a in a major way. So it was a good home. I learned a lotthere. In fact, I learned all of the skills that I needed to later writeseveral books. You know, so it was a good place to be so when youwere back to Detroit real quick. I have a good friend of mine who you mighthave covered when he played for the Lions, Eri, kippl, Oh yeah, absolutelyyeah Eric Yeah. So I go ahead. I Did a...

...feature a week in the life of Eric cipple and which it did. I would check in withthem every day and talk. It was kind of a diary fashion, yeah an day after Wilber Marshall had just. I don't knowwhether you remember this hit, I seed it yeah that Chicago Stadium andMarshal Just Flatin Hem, and so I caught up with him the next morning. Ithink so that was kind of like the we kick this off, but he was in pain.Man, I'll tell you, yeah he's Ting what I drink kin, what a great Guy Yeah GuyYeah Ar comp was a great guy. What was the generally the relationship with thePhiladelphia athletes and the reporters in Philadelphia? What was a dynamicthere? Well, you know it's it's not the well! Let me put it, though, O this way. It's fraught. You know a lot of times. Alot of I probably not so differentthan Washington, Theuh right gust, I mean I don't I mean, there's tension right between thisbetween the writers and the and the players. I think that's very true. Inphilly. I think it used to be a lot more fraught than it is now. But one thing I will say about thePhilli philly writers in the papers when I was going back in doing the JoeRaser biography. I was absolutely astonished and pleased by when I lookedat the papers from the S and h s how good the writing was how deep and Handepth it was. I mean every day people like Stan Hawkman and Larry Merchantand Tom Cushman and and semany others. They really just sort of it was like anongoing history that they were writing and I you know I read that and absorbedthat and sort of found its way into my book. I wonder today, if somebody, if,twenty years from now somebody were to sit down and try to write a biographyof Brice Harper, what they would have to drawn, I mean they're, just there'sjust none of that I mean in in he philly and Joe Fraser.You didn't have to make an appointment to see Joe Frasier you just walke downbroad street north broad street, knocked on his door. Er He's here atthe JYM. He was there at the gym come on in. They were all like that, then Imean it began to change. Of course. Is the money got greater, but you knowaccessibility that you had was great rightand, it's Ily in Philly I mean Ithink that there's a there's a good deal of respect between the writers andand players in a lot of respenmean you guy, we have a guy in town named raydidn'n Jors been around forever. I don't think I don't think there's awriter in town who's more respected than he is by the players and byeverybody. You know and he's beet tough, so you know. But what is your like relationship that you had when you werein Philly with the fans because Philly fans, you know they're, not fanaticsfor no reason right right? You know, tethey're a little intense coul tell afew stories about playing in Phillia. Well, I played there in the playoffs one yearwith the Vikings and all my family were going in with alltheir Viking sharts on. I said guys you might not want to do that like I knowthis place a little bit, you might want to just go on and wearing a normal,like, maybe a hat or whatever, and I remember Donte call pepper's mom. Shehad his Jersey on and purple this and purple that all over she literally hadlike food and beer thrown on her and o stands and they had escorther out andwe lost the game, but it was, it could get very intent. They don'thave a CENEL there for it's terrible and it's a terrible and if you're aplayer, that's sort of off his game for a season or whatever its brutal. I meanremember talking to Lance parish, the old catcher. When he came to Phillye,he hated it. He hated the fans in Philly just and the Balt and everythingabout it, and I know writers who came to town who really didn't like it toomuch either. It doesn't warm its Hart to outsiders right right, other's athem and thus attitude about it very territorial, and I seen t et myself, people wearinggiants jerseys or any other. You Know Team Jersey andyou know you've seen h events where people get beaten up in the streets andwhat have you you know, but I have to say- and I'm not saying this indefenseive Philadelphia but we're seeing it around the country Hart. We Imean in other cities and outside of Dodger Stadium and in various otherplaces, fans have gotten really really...

...crazy. Now I sort of flew under therador until I started appearing on television yeah and then my you know Iwould you know, was on Daily News Live forabout ten years and people would people still recognize me an I haven't been onthe air and ten years, but you know I'd be standing at a Urinoat the at the ballpark and the guy would recognize beinge say you are afunny man I saidthaks for Lettg. Me Know, you know, I don't know it's, it's not everybody,ets, some fans and it's always been some fans. In my view,did you have a favorite Philadelphia athlete that you really enjoyedinterviewing or speaking with Oh boy, Jeez I'll, probably forget I'll, probably forget as far as Philly? I mean many of themwere many. I were very much how I professional about the job. You Know Course Eric Lyndra is once I onceinterviewed him while he was reading the paper, so he you know e, I'm starl asking them question he's gotthe paper up. You know l interview. I didn't like that toomuch yeah. That wouldn't be very, it'spretty disrespectful. Well, I would say so and kind of passive aggressive in away, but I dow' Magic Johnson. I went out when Iwas in Detroit kind of went out in the cold and to see him I was set up, but I had noidea what Wat would happen when I get out there. He had me there for aboutthree days. Taking me around, he couldn't have been more of a gentlemanI mean and more interested in making my experience with him to be themost it could be, and that is the attitude I think athaletes should haveabout this stuff is that it may not work out. Well, it may theremight be some herrors in the stories, but you know give it the attention it deserves. If you'regoing to do it at all, basically and and Jow Fraser was like that he was avery buch. What do you need? How can I help you? You know so the athletes thatwere like that were always the ones that we got along famously that way, but you know I think thatathletes have a very much theire, underpressure and they're wary. There's a lot of thingsgoing on that would kind of preclude people from from getting together andputting together a good interview, kind of thing yeah. Now it is difficultbecause I think wih social media nowadays is really changed. How you getto tell the story of that athlete, because that story is told every dayimmediately. Oh, yes, yes, absolutely, but, but I predate social media believeit or not. I mean I'm not I'm starting to feel likeMethuzela here, but I was I was you know when I was doing it. I mean it wasthe paper every day and the Internet. I guess, but you know it's nothing likeit is now it's all going crazy now and so you're getting a shallowe version ofthe story. That's repeated over and over and over again you're, not gettingany kind of explanation in depth. You know it's like just when you'rekind of getting interested in Ha character, n in the subject, the storygets cut off, it gets mangled by people who take it and printed elsewhere. You knowit's a tough situation that way, so it's not the same as it was for sure.Well, I think I think back to when you said about the indepth writing and tohear that story of that player that team, but now somebody writes somethingabout that player o that team and then all F, a sudden, there's an opposite toyou coming right away and so you're hearing all these different things, butback in the day, you would just hear like growing up in Pittsburgh. You know weheard so much about the life of Eboro, comitte and thenGong through the S of we are family and then the steelers, and it was just alfelt like such good stuff yeah. You know, and now it's like okay, this guydid this, and this guy did that yeah and well. You know to it's all, drivenby clicks now right, so you put out there ice cream, causescancer, Clicks Click, Lac, who's, Goingto, click on that or, if you putin their ice cream taste good nobody's going to click on it. You know it'sit's trying to be provocative. It's...

...trying to be a needler, it's notjournalism by any stretches imagination, as I understand journalism to be, butit's all about you know in news rooms today you have boards that show whichstories are getting the most clicks. You know what the bost attention thatis no way to put out responsible journalism. In my view, it really isn'tbecause it drives reporters to reach for that apple on the tree instead ofanother apple on the tree, you know, so I really think it's a bad. The way it's way it's evolved is not healthy. So howdo you feel, like you wreate this, this great book aboutJoe Fraser? So how do you feel that you can connect with the audience today bywriting a book compared to it, like you said, all the clicks, because the thisis going to be an indepth rigyourstanding of Joe Frazer, and yougot to get those people to want to read it and, like you said today, is aboutclicks and how many you know. So how did you kind of go through that? To getyour audience to really want to read this? Well, it's an interestingquestion. You ask is one that I grapple with all the time I mean I don't have I really don't have anunderstanding, othe reading habits of folks in their twenties and S. I think the book is will be most attractive to readers ofthe the remaining readers of the old sportsillustrated days. You know people in their maybes who, who have a memory of of the two fighters and Joe touched alot of lives, so people that his life had touched. I think wwell buy the book.I Europe. I think the book will do quite well over there. They have moreof an interest in boxing over there and maybe Australiaan and so forth, butyou're right I mean it's. It's definitely a generationaldivide that you have to deal with and you know publishers are no different than anyoneelse they want. They want to appeal to the widest audience. They can so itwasn't necessarily an easy sale to get this book published in the first place.So, but I'm glad I pursued it, I'm glad I did it. I think it's worthwhile. Ithink it prervers. It preserves in time a piece of history that will never seeagain and and two athletes that will never seeagain. What do you what's your opinion on thereason for the declining popularity, an boxing like, like you mentioned earlier,watching Sundays, on ABC, I thought that was phenomenal. I mean a that wasso such an enjoyable experience right, w Port Whydo, O sports, and they justit that's no longer around and like is it is it you vc, an MMA and all that orwhat sa that's part yeah, that's part of it. That's part of it. You know you see a fragmentation toother n dispersal to other sports. You know, basketball, you know, look at thebig bodies that are in basketball and, of course football. I mean at one atanother point in time. They might have migrated to to boxing you know, so I think there's a lot of factorsinvolved. You know, and I you know it's like back in the Sand S on Sunday morning. You know you'd see a big picture of the last race. You knowBIMBLICO or boy on the in the sports section. You know a horse picture andthen you'd have all the horse racing coverage and they need that box andcoverage. Not You, don't se have any of that anymore that that's all gon sotimeat really change that way you know boxing is, is a sport? It'sfrom another time it's from a kind of a golden age, and I don't think it will ever be whatit was. You Know Joe Frazer came up the theGolden ageof sports, a boxing and- and I think one of the reasons that we we connected with him was because youknow het was on the smallish side and he was kind of an over achiever, but hejust he never backed up an inch. I mean think about the people we admire insports they're, the ones that they never back up an inch even when theglowing gets as tub as it can be, and it certainly did with Ali in thosefights well, I think also the'there's lesspersonality, maybe also especially like the heavyweight area like it reminds me,and this may be a stretch, but it reminds me kind of the tdecline and thepopularity of tennis, maybe a mins...

...tennis, there USD to be lot ofpersonalities that were fun to follow and that it kind of reminds me that wasvery popular in the S, as was boxing, and that seems a those personalityesdecline. The boxing personality seem to decline. I mean it's just it's lessinteresting and I don't Yeh. Tennis is an interesting analogy because you hadyou had athletes who were not just the great athletes, but they were vocal.They were flambuoyant. You Know Connors mackandrope, an that whole bunch and with at Lei you know He. He draggedboxing out of the gray days of the s. You know the Marciano days. Well, were the Densen dose days and really a gate,bated art articulated- I mean he was. He gave articulation tothe sport. You know he was a. He was something that had never beenseen before and now we've seen him again and again and again and again andagain across all sports, he sort of got it all going. As far as the the loud brash kind of of athlete, I was going to ask you guyswho do you think would be a better teammate in the locker room, aly orfraser. You know that's very interesting,because I've actually played with kind of guys they have both thosepersonalities right guys that are allowed and you hear them all the time,but when you're around them in the locker room, they're completelydifferent, like everybody wants to talk about Randy Moss, you know to me hereminded me a little bit of Aly as far as when he would go out and do thingsin public and everybody talked about him. It's band is but in the lockromthe guys love them right because he wanted to be a part of the team, but healso was his big figure, and I bet if we ever interview randy and go back andask Hem some question, tell say if Li go back and tell Randy one thing: itwas just to like be more accepting of a lot of stuff that happened in his life.Instead of shunning everybody and all he was like Hep us, this big figure,and he had these qualities. That really said he made himself way bigger thaneverybody else, but I bet if you sat with them, he would take the time withyou. A Io they want to talk to you and have you understand who he was, and JoeFraser he's at quiet type that I played with so many guys that you want tofollow that you want to go into battle with because, like you said theyweren't ever going to quit you no, I was thinking. I was thinking that IlLeav, perfect whide receiver Joe, would be perfect, foolback right right kindof yeah. Well Alli! It's interesting that you say that about loss, becauseAli once you got him away from the cameras in the crowds, he was very kindof quiet introverted. He didn't. He was nothing like you saw in public right,it was a. It was a hundred and eighty from what you saw in public. He hadthis ability to get in front of a crowd and to sort of understand what got themgoing and, unfortunately, what he th. He soon realized that what got thecrowd going was when he started this racial bating, a frazier calling himand Uncle Tom, calling him ugly and worse and and all this stuff fans that would sort of sit there ontheir hands sort of listening to his thort of charming chatter withs. Thissort of explode and frenzy when, when he got really mean and angry that way,and it tells us a little bit the nature of crowds and what gets them gone kindof the raw meat that you throw at them and he threwh the role meat and I think it was maybe to his regretlater in life. I think that it probably was, but at the time Ali was all aboutputting fannies in the seats all about getting the attention. You know and Joejust didn't understand that, because to Joe oxers outside the ring inside thering, they were tearing each other's heads off outside the ring. There was afraternity, abong boxers right treated each other with respect. Guy Needs ahand you give them a hand. Ali was outside the ring. He was pulling allthis molarchy. You know so it s kind of an interestingrelationship well early on. They were pretty good friends weren't they well.They were or more maybe more respectful of each other well kind of in thefraternity yeah, as you would befort jokes, they both sold each other thepotential for a moneymaking proposition, as is, and the Book Ali looked atFrazier back in the sltes. When he was on exile, he looked at Frasier and sawhe said he sold ten million dollars. Well, that's what that's, how Alithought of those things and they and...

Ali was determined to get them together.You know, and that Joe was he could see that, but they weren't blood brothers. That way, I don't thinkI wouldn't you say that I don't think joe trusted him. I think joe was wearyof them. I think Ali FFAC doring his exozile move toPhilly and I think I in Housan ninendred and seventy, and it was always showing up wherever Joe,had an appearance in town pestering him needling him. It got to the point where one time inthe in at the Academy of Music in Philly Joe, is doing a Gig with theknockouts one Sunday morning and he was getting his getting his instruments outof the truck of his car, and here comes Ali around the corner, with a leading aparade of fifty people in a spots razor. He says Joe phraseor Joe Frage isscreaming at the top of his lungs and the guy, the guys that were with Joethat day. They both confirmed this joe reach for a a tire iron and said I'm going tofinish this guy right now and they had to drag him ininside the academy. Now Idon't think Joe would have hit him, but that self, as one of his pastol be he said Joe, was sweatingbullets that day he was sweating bullets. You know that was the kind of frenzy. So by the time they met in thering on Juo March AF, nobody was going to be Fraser thatnight, not Ali, not Jack, dumpse, not Jack Johnson, not marce. Had Nobodylowis forget it. He was going to just that was going to be it, and but thatwas the top of the mountain right, even if he didn't know it at the time he wasat the top of the mountain, then it was a long slide down yeah. Well, it ishard because you know you're not going to stay at the top Mountan for long.You know and- and you try and you try- I mean I was lucky to play fifteenyears how many years to Joe into boxing total sixty five. He turned pro and he wasdone in seventy seven yeah, that's a long time for boxing. So a lot of YeahS E is a lot of shots to the head and everything well yeah. He he's really lucky to survive the gymsin Philadelphia, a lot of guys don't even survive. That kind of the fights inside the gym. The sparringsessions in Philly, my old college Dan Ochman, said Philly, Jim Waris,shortend mor careers, thon, cocaine and- and it's true I mean coxs- would getthe together in these barring sessions and tear each other's heads off peoplewould line up around the ring they take bets they'd. You know all these thingsI was like to be. The King of the gym right was more important, thand, actuallywinning on fightnight in a lot of ways, but joe was able to to manage that and he was handledbeautifully by his managers and trainer Yank, Durham and Eddi Fudch. If youlook at June's record, they only exposed him after a certain point. Twofights a year atmost they didn't an Ali, was in the ring five six times a year,taking a lot of punishment and Ali took a lot of punshment in the gym to let'snot forget that ohabsolutely. Well, what's the feeling on Fraser's legacyin the Philadelphia area like around here, I think we've but O flamenismentioned every day I mean by somebody, onthe, radio and pack and passing orwhatever is it sittled with Frazer Yeah? Oh, I think so he's a he's beloved and it's intily Tukhe's you know he's had a comp. He had a complicated life. His warts were sortof out there in public, but it didn't seem to matter to people too much. Hewas a generous man. You know. One of the things that I found so interestingwas how you know he could be driving down the highway with somebodyand spot a car stranded on the side of the road and all of a sudden he'spulling over to the side of the road and he gets out of his carid. He he's looking under the hood. Hs He'sgot the Jes jacket, his had he's changing the tire. Meanwhile, theperson O as the ribers, the Heavenwai champs changing my tires like a one mantripla right, walk around, he would walk around. He would walk around where you be inPhilly, there's another story where he he's driving Tho Atlantic cities hatand left Philly. Yet he comes to a legalist man crossing the street with aCarrot Hanna Garret Karocene on a cool December day, and he man, you know and Jo pulls theblimazine over to the side of the road gets out in his fir coat and his cowboyhat helps the guy into the Lindo drives them home. Takes him inside reachesinto his pocket. Ou got a roll of bills and is het called it the love. You saidyou look like you can do you some love...

...and he pulls out and he gets rightbefore Christmas. He gives them two hundred dollars. I mean this is thekind of thing nobody ever heard of Yor saw and is interesting. Ali was thesame way. They were generous people and good guys and but Joe was that way Joewould do you deed something? You know he would he would do it for it. Hedidn't like get pushed around. You know as a man wit pride, but if you treated him good, he treatedyou better. What do you think a Joe Fraser would go back and tell a youngJoe Frager to be ready for look out for boy. That's an interesting question, that's hard to say I think. Maybe he would have been you know kept as cool with Ali a bit more. Ithink I think it might have been a we kept as cool he liked. The party life, maybe Yowuld,have done a little less of that. You know he might have been more less restless when it came to his ownfamily. I mean he, you know he he tripped the light fantastic. You knowhe was, as his daughter told me, he was a rolling stone and that that catchesup with you, you know, and so maybe some stuff in that area. Who knows it'?Who knows when people reach the end of the life? What what they you know, how they might have done it differentlyright. So, if you could, if our fans were going to,try show them this, and if you could tell them one thing why they shouldread this book and what they're going to get out of it? What would it be? Wow?That's a that's a that's an essay question! Okay, I it's my life's work. You know and I think that it gives a full bodyportrait of the way it was. As I said earlier in a time that willbe no more it's a golden age of sports. I think you canlearn a lot from reading about Joe's Jo's journey in life. Even outside ofboxing I mean he grew up in the porest county of of the country and Duford SouthCarolina, mid disease and malnutrician took the bus to New York and ended upin the gyms, and you know just his whole journey through Jim Crow n and what he made of himself.I think it's inspiring and I think that you'll find yourself absorbed by hisstory in a way that you will find unexpected. No and- and my last question before weget to our last segment- is what would mork cram senior, I'msure very proud. I think he would be. I think he wouldbe. He had written a book before his death in two thousand one. It came out called Ghost of Manila,which was the faithful bloodfew between Joe Frasier or ally and Frager, and butthat was more of an SS thic approach to the two figures and their three fights-and you know my book is more layred withreporting he would have been. He would have been proud. I'll. Tellyou why, because I learned an awful lot from him. I couldn't have had a better teacher. Imean, as I was, writing the book. I thought Fback to so many things, kind of batting tips. If you will that he had sort ofgiven me a sort of things to keep in mind, you know that if you weren't, theson of a writer you'd really never have access to right. So I think hewould look at hat. Look upon this book as as a testament to our life together asfather and son. That's wonderful! Who is your Dad's favorite boxer? Oh well! He wasn't. He wasn't a fan. Ifyou will, he wasn't one of the guys that would sort of he was more restrained than hisaffections when it came to athletes and performance. He looked at sports islike a kind of a stage play and he didn't. He wasn't the sort you'd see typicallyin a locker room after a game, but he admired Ali tremendously, although gosto minila reflected you know he, he...

...caught a lot of criticism because hewas too harsh about Halli, but the truth of the matter is ye had a greatdeal of affection for athlete Ali the athlete what he didn't seem to graspwas the he didn't understand this notion. ThatIli was this. This Martin Luther King figure and what haveyou that seemed to be beyond Dad's. You know he just didn't get that now. Alot of people argued that point with him. vaciferously buthe was he like Dali he's like heliked, Joe quite a bit, and there were a lot of unknownfighters that he covered over the years that he that he had some admiration,for. He was always a guy that sort of sort of like the underdog, the guy,that sort of had a things ar rate against them. So he got to know thempretty. Well, that's how he was he wasn. He was an absolute underdog. He wastent from the bottom of his class in high school, didn't go to college. Youknow, started out working in factories, an an Al on road crews and but hetaught himself to write just by reading and reading and reading and reading andreading and by Hoker Crook Yo got where he was going. That's awesome, wow,that's not your typical Ath to being a famous SI writer, yeah, Righta, guess thatoh! That's right! Ishould have mentioned that he was really self. He was a late bloomer andhe was self taught totally so totally selftaught the thoas yeah. You don't.You would never guess that, for you know somebody of his stature that hewas self taught. That's AW rihtabt, Oh Gosh! Yes, yes, and you know I don't there's just so much-you can learn in the classroom, but tad knew the streets and he knew he knew sports really well and newathletes really well. So you had a gift. The sat part about maybe his storytoday is it might not have ever happened. You know I mean because ofthe resume wouldn't have been what they're looking for t at wouldn't yeah.You know yeah, it's really sad, you know so many. So many people withpotential are being you know, shut out. You know I mean Idid like. I said I didn't Finish College I mean you know I had and I wasreally kind of Stri struggled. I mean I'm sure thatthey would have for that very job. I Got Baltimore, they probably have threehundrer resumes for it and you know with Masters degrees, I mean I'd, bedoing something else in life which probably might not have been a badchoice. Actually I mean I I mean I like to work with my hands andthings I mean I could have been a carpenter or something else you know Imean you know you don't have to be what youknow that a writer, but you know writers, find their way into theprofession and whatever way they can all talent always find its way, and you know, and it's and sports tough. Imean that always thought when t during thetough times, and he had some really tough times in the s he lived inWashington actually at that time, and he always had this dream that he said Iwish I should have stayed in baseball and become a third base coach. You know, you know it's something that kind ofpart of a team and you sort of know how you did at the end of each day. But youlook at the box score and you know it's all there, but you get a chance tostart anew the next day right now and he love that about he loved how youcould wipe away pet yesterday's performance with a new chance today,yeah. No, I agree with that. When you have a bad game, you can't wait tillthe next game right, because you got to hear about it all week from yourcoaches from the media and everybody, you can't hite to get back out there onSunday and go and try to prove yourself again right right, yeah. Absolutely, Ithink that's one of the great things about sports. Do you still follow theOrioles pretty intently? Well, I can't do it too intentlybecause they're so awful ir going through the same you'retalking to Pira fans here so yeah, it's difficult. You know, I mean Ithink they they traded too much last year when you know when they, when theycleaned house they're, unwatchable, they're, a doubleateam charging, TRIPLAprices, or I MEA major league crisis. I mean I took my daughter to the dodgersin the phillies a couple weeks ago. It coustus a fortune. I could do thatonce a year, maybe yeah. I really don't know how fans go everygame. Oh my God! ' Really it's! I just it's a wholedifferent game, though watwhere does this end, you think gus? Where do youthink the this tops out? At I mean I...

...everything, every economic kind of vehicle has its top where's the topwith all this. Well, I don't know because we've just interviewed LeisSteinberg and we were talking about the samething and he said I asked him how these players, how he knew what their valuewas. He said. Well, I had the first thing I had to do was going tell theowners what their value was and we had increased contracts. We had to increaseTV contracts and bring the owners more money to show them the OE, how muchthey can make. Then it correlates to the players. So if the owners are goingto continue to make a lot of money, the players and the unions are going tocontinue to ask for more money. So I don't know until the fans stopped goingbecause in Pittsburgh we're everaging fifteensand a game. That's like I don'tknow how you sustain that it's almost becoming a studio support in a lot ofways. You know like we'll play the games and just run the cameras andyou'll watch it on television and because I'd be somebody whot would goto the phillies. You know it's fifteen minutes fror my house, the Ball Park,twenty minutes and I'd, be there fiften twenty times a year, but I can't affordthat it's ridiculous, but yeah you go to game, you Hav, not just in a beerand you're like I'm, not a hundred an fifty bucks Yoa. Exactly so, I don't know, are they killing thegolden goose? I think the players should get everything they can get. Ireally do t I dont do agree where the structure where, where this whole thing,not just the players but the whole whole thing, tops out it. But I alsothink that for a few players to make a lot ofmoney, it means your team is not as good because then you're not able topay the rest of the team. What their value is because you've put it all intoa couple of people just like the whole quarterback situation. Now you pay thetop quarterback a lot of money, but then, if he gets hurt the next guycomes in and he hap he's not worth the same value, and so they don't pay himas much and they don't have equal telint. If your team doesn't know ifyou lose your quarterback or any back up on the field, your team is not goingto win. There's NHERE's Ao me as you this from a players: rerspective you'dhave an inchest of Te Secale one is: Do you get the same performance from aplayer after you've, given him as big pay day, I've always wondered that you knowbecause I think, there's a difference in someguys. Definitely I don't think it's the same with every player, because for me when I, whereas able to get somecontracts, it was. I have to go out and prove my words that I am worth whatthey paid me now. Other guys may not see it the same. I think that in football contracts areguaranteed, except for the sriht bonus, so you have to go out and prove myfavorite year is when I played for the dolphins and I played under anincentive base contract. So I had all theses insentives and to make my wordsI had to acquire all these. You know they rirh hard to reach, but I reachedthem and I was able to make the money. I really like that, because you knowthat keeps you involved in it and, if you're just going to pay a guy, nomatter if he hits N undre fifty right- and he has you- know forty five eirs-that year he's still going to make thirty five million dollar to me. It'sthat's crazy. Like Y A I was just thinking of this thirteen year, braceHARPERD ACONTRACT I' three hundred and thirtymillion, and how are they goin to get his value? I mean I just don't understand how he's going to I mean right now isinthing about Hud nd. Fifty and you know, he's Ot what twenty ome runsor something like that. The truth is, I mean: Wouldn't he HOUBE B? Wouldn't he reach his potential Mor and be a better player if he were,if he had that insentive every ever, you know for playing for contracts,weling money. Well, I don't think you know the whole contract. Your Myth isnot a myth. I think if you looked at the science behind it, there's a lot ofguys that really berform when they got a year left and then you're going tosee a dip. Oh Yeah, you know- and I don't think that just made at to mebecause Iam a pirate fan. I know him because I coachd his sons in footballin St Los was Andy Van, like Oh, that happened to him here in Pittsburgh.Mever he had a great year in the Gos big contract and it was like, and thenhe woent left, with Sant liis right right andjust it just to me, that's one of the guys I alreadsy remember that happeningto well also jam Jason Kendall to dn know if you remember the catcher JasonKendal, Jo, the pirates paid thim at the time, which is still the biggestcontract in pirates. History, sadly, is sixty million, but in the pirates worldthat's four hundred million he ever since he got that contract. Hewas not nearly the Jason Kennell from before the contract. Well, you know, Idon't have much sympathy for the pirs. They took us out and many Wai just Iwasn't Gong to bring that up.

Tshoulshould have on both those years,thanks for a weaver Markour last segment we do is calledNOHODL. We pepper some questions at you. You can answer how quick, if you wanttake your time whatever, but Dave always starts o. So it's our two minutedrill and we try to have a lot of fun with it good. Okay, all right. This iskind of a generic with boxing question, but who's the greatest pound for poundbox, orever sugar, a Robinson Nint, and if we ask this one, this is when we askedfor every Gif. What is your biggest pet peeve leaf flowers. I have love my leaf flower early Sunday morning, though I nevertink Gah Li crazy yeah, like eam on a Sendin mening. It's like man yeah, butit's not just one of them anymore. It's whole SWAT teams right. It's like asymphony, its leef flowers. It Cook Ts, goingup. If you could be one person inhistory or sports for one day, who would that be man babe ruth ar t Argu that that's Wor Dary? Thatwaybe great to look at the world through Baroot size.For a day I mean Ta must be amazing, I mean would be. Ithink I think that would be pretty incredible to see atd just to be, likeyou know, o hear about the stories about him, Holn a that how big it wasand like Grigt I mean I played baseball when I was young and quit and after Yewent to college, but you know just that would have been incredibleexperience to be babmony. He had such a Ye had such a sharp, a sweet swing.Youvber video of his swings boutoswy all right. We should show that to someof the pirates, maybe ne yeah, whatever would help. I think I'd beat JonNaleuth about an hour after the super bowl. I would have beenwould HavebegoIEWHAT's t e biggest difference in boxing today than fifty years ago. Well, fifty years ago, they used to havewhat's called the championship rounds which rounds and championship fightsbetween thirteen fourteen and fifteen and, as you know, with the Aly Frazer fightsthose were incredibly dramatic rounds. Now you flights are settled in twelverounds. That's the rule. I see why they've been trying to itreally tries to reduce the damage fighters andI'm all for that, but as far as pure drama inside the ring there's fifteen,those last three grounds were often decisive. All right, if you could change onething in sports today, what would it be? Sports are just baseball, injust, baseball! Well, I'll, tell youwhat I am so sick of. Watching managers pull picters after five innings. I canalmove. My eyes are falling out of my head, the announcers startle on enthree, the third aing. They said well he's up to forty two pitches. We haveactivity in the bullpen fifthenting. Is he going to? Are wegoing to pull him up, he's Gon to pull them, and then we go through fourrelief. PITCHERES and the game gets totally out of hand. You Know JimPalmer used to complete twenty eight games and- and my wife said well- maybe he would havehad a longer career if he didn't. If he pitch less. I said he won Twenty Gameseight times and one three side young awards h. How much do you want to likeGav mo one of my favorite stats? Is No one Ryan Pitch Two hundred and thirtypitches, one game yeah, two four, two O forty. I one game right and spawn andMareshel hooked up in a zero Zeros fifteen in sixteen in in game rigt. Whycan't these guys today go more than five ennings? What in the world ishappening? Oh you know the old orial teams, Jo George Bamburger, was thepitching coach. He believed that the more you threw the more he the strongeryour arm was, and it's true. It's really true. I mean Ar intoce. You see today, yeah allthese injuries and- and I don't get it to I wante- to Di astory when I was with the Daily News on Dr Andrews Down In. Was it Alabama andyou know, does the all the hellse? Yes yeah, the the Tommy John Surgeries andhe was tick. He had patients coming in and out of his opebrating theater. Justlike it's a train station, it was unbelievable. He wants to. He told methat once he had, he did four twenty...

...four of them in one day, one time four different theaters in the in thearea, so I don't know are they being? Is it the amateur levelor they getting overused at the amateur level? But thepoint is t these guys. Today, it's really diminished the game.In my view- and I guess you have the variation ofit in other sports too, where there's this whittling down of achievement ofperformance. But I'll tell you it's a turnal for me watching the game. I don't want to see your fourth bestpitcher come in. I want to see there's the authorship of games. You knowpitcher starting pictures, Atik authorship of the game. I Lin get theeight Nie yeah, the Seventh Eight night inning, I mean boy when the goring getstough. Let's see a little t of that. You knwell one more stadtle. On thislines. I saw the other day that the I think it was one thousand ninehndredand Eighty Oakland days had more complete games than all of Major Leaguebaseball combined last year. Yeah. Just it's good illustration right. There isand who came up with a hundred pitch cat like that's why a hundred Yahif Iwere writing today. That's something I would write about, try to get to thebottom. Of that I mean that's so arbitrary right and you and you're notgoing to see thre another three hundred game winner, you're not going to see ityou're not going to see. You know in two thousand and twenty oneyou're going to have the fiftith anniversary of the four OrielTwenty game: Winners that rnone thousand nine hundred and seventy oneyou're not going to see teans with two twenty game. Winnow I mean maybe thatslutly they've denied starting pictures, theire a chance and greatness. Theyreally have it's really a sad by product of this Sabr metric era, whichis total crap right. That's my pet HAVI YEA ABOR metrix. You love the ex ofvelocity, though Oh my God, the on Changl Likea, Latch Angle. Yeah! Waitthanks for telling us that, like Yeah Yall right now, we asked you thisquestion. If you were Joe Fraser, but as Mark Cram, if you could go back intime and tell e young mark cram something, what would that be? I wouldit would be to learn some humility at a younger age, because I think that that would make me a better writer and a better person.Actually that's something that gets overlooked II think I could apply a lot of peopleyeah yeah. If I could do one thing change. One thing, thit would be that I would. I feel like that. That wouldbe the thing awesome awesome on mark. Thank you for getting in the hoddlewith us a AL right. It was me we learned so much today and we reallyappreciate it as we go through this we're creating anew website for our whole podcast and we're going to do P, doand giveawaysand we love to see if we can give away a book sometime, maybe have youautograph it sore that that would be. That will stay in touch, definitely andtouch anything you need I'll, be happy to do it. Hey have one last question:okay, okay, okay in the in December, we're licky teough to have manny Packiout was a guest. Oh Yeah. Can you give us a question for Manicbacko you'reresident boxing expert I'll? Tell you I'd have to think about it. I reallywould okay, I just we're going to connect back in a few weeks we're goingto rea ater. So let me give it some thought. I you know it's not my era. Basically Imean I, you know I was so immersed in the Sin, and s and S it's just, but I'd have to think about it. Okay ad, to do it,but let me go give you something an reconnect and get that from you. Okayalright, all right, exploer, all right! Goy Thank Youtid you to to.

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