Charlie Pierce is one of the reasons I became a writer, or at least one of the reasons I became the writer I did. When I was in school, I read Esquire with religious fervor, which meant, mostly, that I read Charlie’s sports column, “The Game,” and anything else he’d written over the course of his long and varied career. I became obsessed with many things about him: his limitless-seeming knowledge base, his mastery of the metaphor, his beautiful sentences. His best stories read like true-life fairytales.
I set my sights on becoming his colleague. Unfortunately, when I finally got the chance to join Esquire, it was to write “The Game,” which Charlie had left to write features for Esquire and elsewhere and to join the staff of his hometown Boston Globe.
Let me tell you something: Nothing made my insides turn more quickly to mush than the idea that I was filling the space formerly occupied by Charlie Pierce. I’m the one other person on earth who knows how Ryan Minor felt.
More happily, Charlie and I have since become friends. This past fall, we sat in a bar in New York City called Jimmy’s Corner and watched Roy Halladay no-hit the Cincinnati Reds. We shouted over the jukebox and laughed and drank whiskey, and I couldn’t help remembering how I had once been a young man who had studied the words written by the man beside me, and now here we both were, drunk in Jimmy’s Corner. Roy Halladay was the least perfect thing about that night.
With pride and pleasure, I’d like to introduce my friend, Mr. Charles. P. Pierce: