Published stories

Saving his own soul first

SBNATION / Dec. 19, 2012

Inside his one-bedroom apartment a block-and-a-half off Jefferson Avenue, the main east-west stretch of asphalt that snakes through downtown Detroit, Ernest Wagner Jr. sits in a black highchair at his dining-room table, a few feet from an off-white wall where photographs of his past hang – five photographs, all of them black and whites, all framed in black metal. Easing out of the chair, Wagner ambles toward the photographs and, using his right index finger, points to a basketball player in a team photo: “That’s me there.”


Whatcha doin’ here, white boy?

SBNATION / Feb. 19, 2013

Waiting for competition to resume at a regional track meet in Churubusco, Ind., last spring, the 15-year-old didn’t look much different from other teenagers on coach James Reed’s North Miami High School (Ind.) team. The boy was perhaps a year or two younger than the rest. His stocky, athletic build and longish blond hair distinguished him a tad from everybody else, and maybe – just maybe – how he viewed the world was misaligned with theirs, too.


How a community kept the memory of Black baseball alive in Cleveland

The Undefeated / July 23, 2020

The story of America cannot be told accurately without the Black institutions that have shaped it, said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Black baseball and its ballparks played a significant role in that story, but few remain standing today.

100 years after the Negro Leagues’ inaugural season, its brightest star is honored

The Undefeated / June 29, 2020

The original headstone of Oscar Charleston didn’t say a word about his long Hall of Fame career in the Negro Leagues. It didn’t mention his power as a left-handed hitter. It didn’t include a quote honoring his legacy. In death, he got no more acclaim than he did in life.

The legacy of love that is Clearview Golf Course

The Undefeated / Sept. 30, 2016

Head pro Renee Powell hurries into the brownish-gray, wood-framed clubhouse at Clearview Golf Course. On this saunalike Saturday afternoon in late August, Powell is seeking relief inside this dimly lit, air-conditioned building.

Beauty at the beach knocks U.S. boxers out of prime time from Rio

The Undefeated / Aug. 18, 2016

Amateur boxing in America isn’t dying; it’s dead. There, I’ve given you the naked truth, even if others might not echo my thinking.

What was left of the sport’s flickering heartbeat has flatlined since the ’08 Summer Games in Beijing – its plug pulled for a handful of reasons. No. 1 on the list is that amateur boxing – and, consequently, professional boxing – is no longer sexy enough for a TV viewer’s tastes.

A visionary or just another quack? / Aug. 8, 2007

He’s a pariah these days. Mike Marshall concedes as much, too. Yet he doesn’t run away from the label, even though that might be the wise thing to do.

In his mind, it would be the wrong thing to do. So Marshall, a man with a doctorate in exercise physiology and a Cy Young Award to boot, continues to espouse theories that clash with baseball’s mainstream. While doing so, he pushes himself and his theories on pitching into the darkest recesses of the game – a no-man’s land for dreamers, wannabes and has-beens.