We, like anyone who has even a passing interest in the world of journalism, deeply lamented the passing of David Halberstam, who was killed in a car crash yesterday in Menlo Park, Calif. He was 73 years old.
Halberstam was so good that the sports books he wrote — ones his wife called "entertainment" and "his way to take a break" — are legendary even though they weren't his singular focus. Halberstam wrote sports books as a whim, and they were instantly better than everything else out there. He was initially most famous for his Vietnam reporting, which once prompted President Kennedy to request he be taken off the beat. His most beloved books — to us, at least — were Summer Of '49 and October 1964, but even lesser books like the recent The Education Of A Coach still shed light on characters in a way that only Halberstam could do. There wasn't a single time you read a Halberstam book and couldn't tell it was his from his vivid prose, but he never got in the way of his subjects. Halberstam actually ennobled his subjects by choosing them as worthy of profiling; the fact that he decided to write about them, in a way, proved their public merit. That, friends, is about as esteemed as you can get.
He is also the third ESPN Page 2 writer to die since the site started six years ago. He will be sorely missed.