Clark Booth puts down his pen

This week marks the end of an era at the Reporter. Clark Booth, whose must-read weekly sports column has been a fixture in this paper since the mid-1980s, filed his final scheduled dispatch for this week’s edition. On our end, it has been a privilege to carry the thoughts of one of the nation’s most respected and treasured wordsmiths over the last five decades.

Clark, now 79, is still remembered by many in the region from his days as a correspondent and commentator on Boston television as well as from his forays back to his roots in print with occasional stories and wide-ranging essays in a number of the city’s publishing outlets.

A newspaperman by trade and passion who excelled in broadcast journalism because his prose was equally compelling when delivered on the air, his capacity to churn out engaging, original copy was rivaled only by his deep reservoir of sports knowledge.

He was old school through and through, working and living among the athletes he covered in a manner that would be hard to do today. He came to know them not just as action figures paraded before the press at pre-programmed press conferences, but also as human beings— warts and all.

Clark Booth, a proud son of Weymouth and Holy Cross College, covered sports not merely as a form of present-day entertainment, but as a drama with a cast of characters whose ranks were constantly infused with new blood and intriguing personalities.

It’s a testament to Clark’s unrivaled talent and commitment to our trade that – for 30-plus years – he has never missed an agreed-upon deadline. Not once did he “mail it in.” A consummate pro, his commentary has consistently been the jewel in the copy crown, week-in, week-out, a daunting yardstick by which all other writers can attempt— if they so choose— to measure themselves.

Never one to keep his powder dry, Booth routinely found cause to critique players, coaches, fans, even the media pack that he knew so well. Beholden to none, save for his loyal readers, Clark’s pen packed a punch, but his gloves were not laced with venom. The truth, as he knew it, would suffice. And, invariably, it did.

The Reporter owes a debt to the editors of the Pilot, which began running his columns in 1975, and, along with Clark, agreed to share his opinions with our readers each week. For us, Clark’s leave-taking is a farewell for now, not a goodby. He will always be welcome to weigh in on our pages should he have something else he wants to say. Until then, we wish Clark a restful and healthy new year as he patiently awaits the perennial return of pitchers and catchers.

But for now, let’s give him the last word:

“When Monsignor John Grant,  then the editor of the Pilot, asked me to give a little weekly sports column a twirl in March of 1975, I thought it might be amusing to give it a trial run for a season or so. … Now here it is 43 years and more than 2,000 columns later and I have finally run out of things to rant about, at least meaningfully.  But I want you to know, dear readers, what a delight and an honor it has been to have had you to chat with all these years. The pleasure has been all mine.  Thank you!”
– Bill Forry