Archive for July, 2018

Clark Booth: Boston’s Most Erudite Sports Reporter Ever

July 31, 2018

But the World of Sports was Just One Place Where He Wrote and Spoke with Class, Wit, and Elegance

Clark Booth
Writer, broadcaster, man of letters, and world traveler – one of Boston’s finest ever.

Mr. Booth passed away on July 28 at the age of 79. I knew him — not well, but I corresponded with him several times over the years and considered him a friend.  He personified class and dignity. He wrote superbly, and while he loved sports and its people, he always had the events and people of the sporting life in proper perspective.

Clark was appropriately critical of much that has to do with “big time” sports – particularly of the sanctimonious hypocrisy of college sports and sporting factories. I loved his label for Bobby Bowden’s Florida State football operation: a “penal colony.” But there was no bigger booster of Boston College hockey and Jerry York. To Clark Booth, York’s BC team was an oft-cited example of college athletics as it should be.

Back in 2005, I happened to be researching a hockey story and made a call to Harvard’s great Gene Kinasewich. My call came to Gene’s home on the very day that he died. That passing, too, was a big loss for Boston sports. Knowing Clark’s soft spot for hockey, I contacted him, gave him the news, and forwarded some of the background materials I had already assembled about Gene. Clark was effusive in his thanks to me, and he penned a wonderful encomium to Gene in his column in the Boston Pilot. He also wrote a very nice review of my and Reid Oslin’s history of Boston College Hockey.

Please first take a moment to click on this link and read Clark’s self-penned obituary. It’s a perfect summation of his career, in sports and beyond. It also radiates his boyish enthusiasm for sport, for people, and for life in general.  That obit is Clark Booth speaking!

Sports was just one area in which Clark excelled. If you read that obit, you have an idea of how many other fascinating people, events, and projects he covered down through the years. Had he remained focused on sports, I am sure that many more people than I would rank him among the very best – with writers like Grantland Rice, Red Smith, and Shirley Povich, and with broadcasters like Al Michaels and Jim McKay. He was that good.

The closest comparison to Clark from members of the Boston sporting press would be Globe columnist Ray Fitzgerald. Ray had a classy writing style too, and like Clark Booth he was a truly nice man.

Clark was a Holy Cross man. Twenty-four years ago, I was editing a special Silver Anniversary edition of a publication for the BC Hall of Fame, and I called Clark and got his permission to reprint his magazine article about the BC-HC football rivalry. It’s worth a read, and it appears below. Ironically, the teams will begin playing each other in the 2018 season, after a hiatus of 32 years. I don’t know whether the games will be good or even competitive, but they certainly won’t be the same.

Clark Booth. Requiescat in Pace!

Clark Booth on the Boston College-Holy Cross football rivalry after it ended in 1986.