Over the holidays, we lost Joe Strauss, a sportswriter and columnist with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch since 2002 and previously, the Baltimore Sun and Atlanta Journal Constitution. A public visitation will be held locally next week for Strauss, who died Dec. 27 from leukemia. He was 54.
When news of Strauss’s passing first broke, former Sun colleague Ken Rosenthal, now with Fox Sports, wrote a powerful column about his friend. For which he got some telling comments from former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, now with the Arizona Diamondbacks:
Joe had a question for everything. La Russa had an answer for everything. Back and forth they would go, their verbal sparring deeper and sharper than anything you see in a Presidential debate.
“The truth is that we did develop a really solid relationship,” La Russa said. “There were some difficult variables there. Joe was very insightful. He had a lot of experience. He could figure things out as well as anybody.”
“What’s his responsibility, especially in the atmosphere of reporting today? Sugar-coating is not acceptable. You want to lay it out there. Sometimes you have to dig a little bit. You have to scratch the scab a little bit in case it bleeds, just to see. That’s the reality that I understood.”
“There were times when we clashed. He would be going in the wrong direction. He made it more difficult for our club, whether it was the culture or the actual playing of the game. But that happens now. It’s unavoidable. In the end, I had tremendous respect for his talent and him as a person.”
Praise for Strauss has been coming in from many other colleagues. Here’s how Peter Schmuck, who was the Sun’s national baseball writer at the time Strauss joined the paper, put it:
“I thought I was good reporter until I met Joe. Then I realized I wasn’t even close,” Schmuck said. “It seemed like Joe knew when Cal Ripken was going to end his consecutive game streak before Cal did. He projected it the morning of the day it happened and had details that were so specific about that day that even Cal was amazed. Joe had an incredible talent for getting details no one else could get.”
La Russa, in his comments to Rosenthal, notes that Strauss steered clear of more facile “Twitter reporting.” Those observations, at the end of the Fox Sports piece, are also well worth reading. In another tribute, former colleague Bernie Miklasz described Strauss as ‘absolutely the best I’ve ever seen at operating inside a baseball clubhouse.’