If you’ve followed baseball at all over the last two decades, you’ve probably at least read something written by Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci. But did you know Verducci received his journalism degree from Penn State in 1982?
The former Penn State baseball walk-on and Daily Collegian football reporter went on to become one of the most widely read baseball writers in recent history. Verducci’s father helped Joe Paterno plan his football camps for many years, so his Penn State ties are multi-generational and quite strong. We last wrote about Verducci in spring 2011 after speaking on campus, but we caught up with him again for a round of 10 questions about his career and Penn State.
Onward State: The World Series is obviously still going on, but what was your favorite story from this baseball season so far?
Tom Verducci: The Pirates bringing postseason baseball back to Pittsburgh. It’s been two decades since the city has had a winning team, so it was great to see a young generation of fans enjoy a pennant race for the first time.
OS: What is most intriguing to you about this World Series match-up?
TV: The matchup between the veteran hitters of the highest-scoring team in baseball (Boston) against the rookie power pitchers in their first postseason (St. Louis).
OS: Have you had any chance to catch any Penn State football games this season?
TV: I have not had a chance to watch a game other than highlights. Football season for me begins when the World Series ends.
OS: You recently did a comprehensive Q&A with Bud Selig for SI. What do you think his greatest accomplishment has been in his tenure as commissioner?
TV: Achieving an unprecedented run of labor peace with the players association.
OS: You witnessed firsthand the McGwire and Sosa era and the steroid scandal that still lingers today. Do you think it is coming to a close and what do you think the next era is going to be for baseball?
TV: The Steroid Era as a free-for-all period of PED use has ended, but performance enhancers are and will continue to be a part of all sports. We already have begun the next era: a period of pitching dominance that may at some point make baseball think of ways to bring more offense back.
OS: Does any ballpark atmosphere compare to Beaver Stadium?
TV: No. Nothing can match that feeling that the entire day, not just the game itself, is a special event. As far as ballparks go, AT&T Ballpark in San Francisco and Fenway Park in Boston have the best atmosphere.
OS: What is your favorite memory from writing about football at Penn State?
TV: When I wrote my first story for Sports Illustrated, Joe Paterno clipped the article and attached a hand-written note to it and sent it to me. He sent his congratulations and said how proud my late father would have been.
OS: You have been at SI for twenty years, what is the biggest change you’ve seen in covering sports?
TV: The delivery method of information – the emphasis on speed and video at the expense of quality and the written word.
OS: Baseball is obviously a passion of yours. If you didn’t cover baseball, is there another sport you could be as excited about?
TV: Nothing comes close to baseball. I did cover the Miami Dolphins in my first year after graduation, and I enjoyed it, but not as much as I do baseball.
OS: Finally, if you were a dinosaur, which would you be and why?
TV: Pterodactyl. Flying would be so cool.