Steven Oney on Bo Belinsky–Best Sports Writing


Steve Oney, writer at Los Angeles Magazine, has a piece coming out in Best American Sports Writing 2006. We asked him about it, and he replied:

The article, which originally ran in Los Angeles magazine in July 2005, tells the story of Bo Belinsky, a former Los Angeles Angel who in 1962 pitched California’s first major league no hitter at Chavez Ravine. (Most people think Sandy Koufax did this.) Belinsky was a handsome, wise-cracking playboy who dated Ann-Margret and Mamie Van Doren (among others) and set the tone for the athletes as sex symbol who followed. Before Joe Namath, there was Bo. My account focuses on the largely unknown details of what happened next–Belinsky’s descent into alcoholism and cocaine addiction. He hit bottom in 1976 when he shot and wounded his wife. I’d always been fascinated by him but my curiosity was piqued by his obituary. He died a born-again Christian car salesman in Vegas in 2001. One of Bo’s friends gave me several audiotapes Bo made over the years in which he described his fall from grace in graphic detail. In the end, I guess Bo found some peace, but my tale is about the ephemeral nature of fame and the consequences of self delusion. It’s a mid-century modern noir.</blockquote

Something for everyone in this morality tale: sex, drugs, baseball and used cars.