I started following sports in the early 2000s, just in time to see the end of an 86-year curse and the beginning of a now two-decades-long football dynasty. Growing up in the Boston area, my love for sports was cultivated just as much on the baseball diamond and at Fenway Park as it was in the pages of the Boston Globe sports section.
I began reading the Globe daily by the age of 12, and as they say, the rest is history.
As anyone who grew up with the Globe sports section will attest, the best day of the week was undoubtedly Sunday. Every Sunday, the Globe produces notes pages for each sport, and baseball is, unsurprisingly, my favorite. It provides in-depth analysis, updates from around the league, and unique storylines you didn’t get anywhere else. It was my favorite read of the week. It still is.
The Sunday baseball page was where I first encountered longtime Globe writer Nick Cafardo, a widely respected sports journalist who had covered both the Red Sox and the Patriots since joining the paper in 1989. This past Thursday, Cafardo passed away while doing what he loved — covering baseball.
He was supposed to be on a day off, but he couldn’t stay away from the ballpark. Shortly before the Sox’s first exhibition game of spring training, Cafardo suffered an embolism and collapsed. Despite the courageous efforts of the Red Sox medical staff, Cafardo died shortly after, at the age of 62.
In the hours and days after Cafardo’s shocking passing, fans, journalists and players alike from Boston and all over the baseball and sports worlds alike shared their fond memories of Cafardo, a man known for his incredible passion and endless kindness. Reading the tributes, I couldn’t help but think about the impact he’s had on me.
Throughout my sports upbringing, Cafardo’s baseball columns have been must-reads for me. I always loved the way he wrote, the stories he told, and the way he carried himself as a journalist. As an aspiring sports columnist myself, Cafardo embodied the consummate professional and role model. He is who I want to be when I grew up.
At the daily team press conference the following day, Sox manager Alex Cora spoke only about Cafardo, offering a very heartfelt tribute. Cora lost his own father around the age of 13, and he spoke of Cafardo’s passing with an intimately compassionate and understanding tone.
His message? Celebrate life.
“This is not the manager, this is Alex Cora… it’s me,” Cora said. “It’s just me. Let’s actually celebrate his life. Like I told the guys, just go out there and have a great day. We hate off days anyways. Let’s have a blast on the field. He loved the game.”
As always, Cora hit the nail right on the head.
Journalism is a profession of late nights, early mornings and little glory. Readers voice their disagreement at all times, players don’t want to talk to you, and recognition can be hard to come by. But nobody did it better than Nick Cafardo.
He was known for contagious passion for baseball, and it showed in his columns, his NESN appearances and his Sunday baseball notes pages. He didn’t take days off, and he didn’t make excuses or take shortcuts.
And while the Globe sports section will never be the same without him, it’s up to us — journalists, Bostonians and lovers of sports — to carry on his legacy of passion and kindness.
Rest in peace, Cafardo. You will be missed.