“By the time I had parked near Union Station — I still know the parking tricks in my old neighborhood — and walked past the Department of Labor to a corner where every double-decker had to turn and the crowds (jammed at least 20-deep everywhere) could gather when a favorite player came into sight, I put my press credentials inside my sweater and said, ‘What the hell,’ ” he wrote then. “Being inside the ropes, in the media area, isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes being in the crowd — the huge, shoulder-to-shoulder, can’t-see-much-of-anything-but-here-we-are mob — is better.”
Boswell became a Post columnist in 1984, the same year that “Why Time Begins on Opening Day,” one of his five books on baseball, was published.
“It’s all a trip, I tell you,” he wrote that January in a piece after Washington’s NFL team lost in the Super Bowl to the Los Angeles Raiders. “The whole scene is intoxicating, unpredictable — yes, addictive. … Everybody finds his own way to get hooked, to feel like the action rubs off.”
That was the same year Sally Jenkins began her career at The Post. Jenkins, a Post columnist herself, recalled Boswell taking her and other younger writers out to dinner after events they covered together to talk writing. “Don’t ever get bored” was some of his best advice.
“He maintained an energy and interest in the job that’s really worth admiring and imitating, and I think he showed that it’s okay to put that enthusiasm into print,” Jenkins said. “There’s an unselfconsciousness in his writing that’s also a great example for younger writers. … Boz had that firm conviction that there were a million people who would give anything to be sitting in your seat, and he wrote that way.”
That enthusiasm was evident in Boswell’s columns during the Washington Capitals’ run to their first Stanley Cup in 2018 — “Maybe this is the fulcrum event when Washington finally allowed itself to believe that optimism in sports is not a disease, that rooting for the Capitals can be as great a delight as it has been a burden,” he wrote — and never more so than after the Nationals captured the World Series a year later.
“Pay attention to the Washington Nationals’ victory parade Saturday,” Boswell wrote from Houston’s Minute Maid Park after the team’s Game 7 victory. “Make sure those who ride in those cars and sit on that stage appear young and hearty. Because if instead Anthony Rendon, Howie Kendrick, Juan Soto, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and 20 others appear to be elderly men, we will know they truly sold their souls to pull off this once-in-a-century triumph.”
Boswell, 73, started at The Post as a copy aide in 1969, having never written about sports. His first byline was a high school football game story about top-ranked Carroll’s 10-8 win over DeMatha — on a safety after time expired, no less — on Nov. 15, 1969. Over the next five decades, Boswell covered many of the grandest events in sports, including Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Olympics. The sport he truly loved was baseball, and he once offered 99 reasons America’s pastime was superior to football. But he also went where the story was and relished following every Washington team.
“This is of course a sad day for us and for all of Boz’s readers, but my greater emotion is one of gratitude,” said Matt Vita, The Post’s sports editor since 2009. “That’s not just for all of his incredible work over many, many years. It’s also because he’s such a wonderful man who’s always been a joy to be around. That, we can’t replace. I’m going to miss him.”