The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘The best baseball writer of them all’: Colleagues, readers toast Thomas Boswell as he retires

Thomas Boswell in the press box at Nationals Park. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

On the occasion of Thomas Boswell’s retirement after 52 years at The Washington Post, several of his journalism colleagues — and readers shared their appreciations for him.

George Solomon

The first World Series Tom Boswell covered was in 1975, in my fourth month on the job as sports editor. Before the dramatic sixth game, won by the Red Sox over Cincinnati thanks to Carlton Fisk’s famous home run, Boswell called me from his hotel room to say he spilled coffee on his typewriter (a machine used before computers) and needed to get a new one. The cost was $90. “Get a new one,” I instructed, promising the keeper of Washington Post typewriters I would personally pay for the replacement.

Boz says goodbye: The joy of sports can’t quite be explained, but you can happily spend a lifetime trying

Boswell did buy the new typewriter, $90 was deducted from my paycheck, and from the new typewriter that night came magic, worthy of reading and rereading every sentence. If Shirley Povich, Red Smith, Roger Angell, Peter Gammons and Roger Kahn set the standard for exquisite baseball writing, Boswell matched them and even surpassed them on many occasions.

“Sometimes Boswell takes too long to tell you who won,” Povich once complained to me. “But he’s worth it.”

My predecessor on the job, Donald Graham, promoted Boswell from a high school/college reporter to the newspaper’s baseball writer. An interesting move, considering Washington had recently lost its baseball team to Texas. But Boswell turned Major League Baseball into his own canvas, creating art few sportswriters could match. When David Kindred left The Post in 1983, I filled his columnist spot with Boswell and Tony Kornheiser, prompting a basketball coach working in College Park to ask, “Why would you do that?”

But Boswell’s 50-plus years writing sports for The Washington Post set a standard to which up-and-coming journalists can only hope to aspire. He may have lost a rental car in the snow at Lake Placid in 1980, missed a few deadlines (my headstone will read: “Waiting for Boz”) and cost me $90 for that typewriter. But the late John Thompson said it best: Boz “writes for the heavens.”

George Solomon was sports editor of The Washington Post from 1975 to 2003. He was on the faculty of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism from 2003 to 2020 and served as the director of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism from 2011 to 2020.

Donald Graham

I learned to read on The Post sports page in the late 1940s and have missed few days since then. In the 1960s, I noticed a wonderful writer had started to cover high schools.

In 1973, Ben Bradlee made me sports editor of The Post for a year, asking that I find a long-run successor. I quickly determined that that was George Solomon. The two of us were looking for the right new reporter for the baseball beat and made the easy decision to move that excellent high school reporter: Tom Boswell.

In 42 years at The Post, I got to make many decisions; almost none worked out so perfectly. And since I never stopped reading the section, many of my mornings since were brightened by George’s decision to make Boz a columnist.

Tom and I are native Washingtonians and grew up rooting for some of the worst baseball and football teams the Lord ever created. As D.C. suffered and then gloried in a few winning teams, Tom spoke for the fans, always.

His eye at any game was always better than mine; he saw what was really happening, as his great friend Shirley Povich had done. As he leaves, I hope he will do what Shirley did and write for The Post from time to time. Meanwhile: Thank you, Boz.

Donald Graham was publisher of The Washington Post from 1979 to 2000.

Leonard Shapiro

Tom Boswell and I started at The Washington Post within weeks of each other as part-timers in 1969. We took high school scores over the phone, read page proofs, answered constantly ringing phones and, every once in a while, were assigned to cover a high school football game on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon.

Eleven years later, we were both in frigid Lake Placid, N.Y., for the 1980 Winter Olympics along with several other Post colleagues, including the late, great Barry Lorge. We only had one rental car at our disposal, and one afternoon, Boz took it to cover an event a fair distance from our house.

Lorge was a big man and delightful fellow, known to one and all as Bear. He was assigned an event that evening and had asked Boz to leave the car parked in a certain area, with the keys under the front mat, so he could drive it home late that night.

When the Bear finished writing his final edition story well after midnight, he packed up his briefcase, buttoned up his coat and went out to start looking for the car.

He couldn’t find it.

The temperature, as usual, was single digits.

At about 2 a.m., I was awakened by the thundering THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, all the while bellowing BOZ, BLEEP BLEEP, I COULDN’T FIND THE BLEEP-BLEEPING CAR!!!! WHERE’S THE BLEEPING CAR?”

If looks could kill, Boz surely would not have survived the night.

The next day, Boz retraced his own steps and located the car he had parked behind a snow drift, unaware that it was pretty much out of sight in the middle of the night darkness. By the time the Games ended, we were all able to laugh about it. And Boz, thank goodness, survived to write brilliantly for another 41 years.

Leonard Shapiro was a sports reporter, editor and columnist at The Washington Post from 1969 until his retirement in 2011.

Dave Kindred

From Walter Johnson to Max Scherzer, from George Preston Marshall to Dan Snyder, from Eugene Meyer to Jeff Bezos, from Warren Harding to Joe Biden, The Washington Post has had a Shirley Povich or a Tom Boswell, even on the days Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken said their farewells — and aren’t we the luckiest readers ever?

I loved the moments Shirley would read a Boswell poem on Mark McGwire and go, “Boz, Boz, Boz,” the master wishing the pupil had been with him in Wrigley Field the day in 1932 when Babe Ruth (maybe) called his shot.

Now, so lucky we are, we have the pupil as master, and I’m rooting for the day a bright, ambitious, indefatigable Post columnist waxes rhapsodic over a Fernando Tatis Jr. and here comes Boz, reminding us he saw Cal Ripken and Derek Jeter on the same field a hundred times.

Dave Kindred writes about the Morton (Ill.) High School girls’ basketball team. He was a sports columnist at The Washington Post from 1977 to 1984.

Michael Wilbon

It was the day before the NCAA championship game in the spring of 1982. Georgetown would play North Carolina the next night. And Coach John Thompson was sitting before the national media in a hotel ballroom in New Orleans. Someone asked, essentially, why he hated the media. Big John shot back, with both volume and eloquence, that he didn’t paint anybody — not even sportswriters and broadcasters critical of him and his program — with such a broad brush. He talked about people, including a few right there in the audience, with whom he had had long and engaging professional relationships.

But there was one man Big John singled out. Big John, a Washingtonian, had known Thomas Boswell for forever, had read Boz even then for more than a decade. Big John wasn’t going to let anybody leave that room, that question having been asked, thinking that there weren’t writers he respected and even admired. And in That Voice, Big John said into a microphone to the entire room assembled, “Thomas Boswell writes for the Heavens.”

I don’t remember anything Big John said after that. I was stuck on the fact that he thought Thomas Boswell — he might have said “Tommy” Boswell — writes for the Heavens. Are you kidding me? For the Heavens? I had never heard anyone of Big John’s stature in sports say that about a sportswriter. And 40 years later I still haven’t.

Boz doesn’t know this, but a small roster of writers, all of whom became close to Big John subsequently, would use that phrase hundreds if not thousands of times over the years, always in the coach’s booming voice, to describe well-written pieces or brilliant columns Boz had written or some other writers’ shortcomings, as in, “That dude has no chance of writing for the Heavens!” Or as in a call from me to Kornheiser, “That was really good, but not for the Heavens.”

I told Big John about this, probably in the late 1990s, and it delighted him to no end. “Y’all just jealous of my man Boz,” Big John said. “And y’all should be.”

And we were. Still are. Even on a staff with true poets such as Dave Kindred and Barry Lorge and, yes, Tony Kornheiser, it was Thomas Boswell who absolutely wrote for the Heavens.

Michael Wilbon is an analyst and columnist at ESPN, where he also co-hosts “Pardon the Interruption.” He covered sports at The Washington Post from 1980 to 2010.

Tony Kornheiser

Six decades. It’s a long and brilliant career. He’s a great writer. He’s a great thinker. I always made fun of him when he would quote some French philosopher; I would go, what are you doing with this? But there was a lot of envy in that for me because he brought an intellectual look to writing sports. He brought the full measure and weight of all of his learning to writing sports.

I left, right? I get antsy. I leave and do something else. I have had all the careers you can have; I had the writing career, I had the radio and podcast career, I had the TV career, and some of them just dropped on my lap. Could Boz have done that? I’m sure he could have done that. I don’t think he wanted to do it. I think he wanted to stay true to the purity of writing sports.

Wilbon left, I left, a bunch of people leave and do other things and gain credibility and fame in those new things that you do. And Boz stayed there. And I don’t want to say he stayed there and just plugged away; he stayed there because he was great. He was great at it, and he loved it.

I stand next to him in great awe of his talent and the length and breadth of his career and everything he was able to accomplish. I admire like crazy the fact that Boz stayed there and chopped down the trees. I mean, that’s what he did. He loved doing what he did — I’m sure he loves it to this moment — and this is my thank you to Boswell.

Tony Kornheiser is the co-host of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption.” He was a writer and columnist at The Washington Post from 1979 to 2013.

David Aldridge

To read Boz was to read someone, all at once, in love: with words, with baseball, with the city in which we lived. He was a relentless optimist, as you have to be about sports, and especially baseball, with its relentless schedule and occasional cruelty. He was a passionate advocate for D.C. getting an MLB team, in a time when there weren’t a lot of people speaking up for the city. And he was a fan — not of teams or of people (though he certainly liked Earl Weaver and Jim Palmer) — but, as you have to be as a sports journalist, of the game: its histories and mysteries, the process and rhythm of a baseball season, from its dormancy in winter to its stirrings in the spring and its endurance into the fall.

As a columnist, he was neither a cheerleader nor a humorless scold; he was thoughtful. And straightforward. And unafraid. I’m glad Tom has been in our city all these years, bringing dignity to those who earned it, scorn to those who deserved it and such beautiful writing to those of us grateful for it.

David Aldridge is the editor in chief of The Athletic D.C. He was a staff writer at The Washington Post from 1987 to 1996.

J.A. Adande

Back when the only way to read newspapers was the actual newspaper, The Washington Post used to mail each day’s edition to its interns ahead of their summer in D.C., and that’s how I came across this passage from Tom Boswell:

“Hope is the engine of sports. It keeps the turnstile spinning and the imagination racing. It gives fire to the old, insomnia to the young. Like the man said, hope is the thing with feathers on it; no matter where you find it, you can’t beat it. And where do you meet it most often in this dreary old world? Maybe in sports. Because you can schedule hope there — pencil it right onto your calendar. Hope comes attached to the ticket. Your guarantee of satisfaction isn’t money-back, but it’s ironclad. It’s called ‘next season.’”

It was in a column about the Capitals’ playoff prospects, but to me it’s always stood as a reminder for why we’re all so invested in sports. I have yet to find a better explanation for sports’ hold on us than what Boz wrote in the spring of 1991. And I have never learned more about baseball than in the innings when I sat next to Boz in the press box.

J.A. Adande is the director of sports journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He was a staff writer at The Washington Post from 1994 to 1997.

Richard Justice

Eddie Murray wasn’t talking to the press. Rather, he wasn’t talking to most members of the press. This kind of thing did not register with Boz. He was just so happy to be at the ballpark and so excited about the possibilities of another game that he couldn’t comprehend anyone not feeling the same way.

Once when Astros owner John McMullen impolitely told the two of us (through clenched teeth in a reception filled with VIPs) to get the hell away from him, Boz calmly proceeded to pepper him with questions about reports that he was contemplating moving his team to Northern Virginia. McMullen seemed flabbergasted that Boz, notebook open, pen at the ready, didn’t care whether he wanted to talk or not.

Back to Eddie Murray and Boz. That day, Boz approached the surly first baseman and began reeling off statistics he had developed, games he had broken down and theories he needed to float. If he paused to take a breath, I never saw it.

Because Boz was so enthusiastic, so prepared and so into it all, the first baseman that wasn’t talking to the press gabbed with Boz for 15 to 20 minutes as the rest of us looked on in amazement.

How could he not? Boz brought such enthusiasm and intensity to the conversation that walking away was not an option. In fact, Murray seemed intimidated that someone had so deeply poked and prodded the game’s nooks and crannies, personalities and theater.

No one ever loved his job more or cared more about his newspaper or his hometown. Every single one of us did our jobs better by watching Boz do his. Old-timers would sometimes ask me: “You tell Shirley Povich hello for me, okay?” That’s what another generation of players, coaches and reporters will be saying about our guy Boz.

Richard Justice is a Texas Monthly contributor. He covered sports at The Washington Post from 1985 to 2000.

George Will

For those of us who believe in the rationality of the price system, Tom Boswell is a problem. Prices are supposed to drive the rational — meaning efficient — allocation of talent. If the prices are right, talents will flow in the correct directions. But Boswell’s talent, which places him on a pedestal next to Shirley Povich in The Washington Post’s pantheon of sportswriters, has always been, strictly speaking, beyond price. His readers have always been drawn into the orbit of his enthusiasm and have always, I suspect, had this thought: It is irrational for The Post to pay him because he obviously would write for the sheer fun of it.

As he has said many times, sports do not just build character, they reveal character. His long career of unsurpassed professionalism has revealed, column inch by column inch, the character of a craftsman devoted to excellence. Like Joe DiMaggio patrolling the vast center field in the old Yankee Stadium, Boswell has made what he does look effortless. So many readers might have missed noticing the exacting craftsmanship. Now, alas, we are all going to miss it — and him.

George Will has been a columnist at The Washington Post since 1974.

Christine Brennan

In the first year of my sports journalism career, my boyfriend gave me a special birthday gift: Tom Boswell’s classic “How Life Imitates the World Series.”

When I opened the cover, much to my surprise, there was an inscription:

“Chris, Good luck in your writing career. Best wishes, your friend, Tom.”

I had just started at the Miami Herald and revered Tom but certainly didn’t know him, and neither did my boyfriend, but Tom was kind enough to sign the book when they met while covering an event.

As luck would have it, just a few months later, I met Tom at a sports journalism conference. He was giving a seminar and I was honored to be in the room. Of the many pieces of advice Tom offered that day, one I have never forgotten, was quite simple: Always carry a notebook when you’re covering a game or event. Tom mentioned this not for the obvious reason of being able to take notes on a moment’s notice, but rather to set boundaries with the players, coaches and officials you bumped into in the course of your day.

“You’re a journalist, not their friend,” he said. “Always have that notebook out to delineate the difference.”

Within a couple of years, I was covering the Washington Football Team for The Washington Post, and Tom and I often sat next to each other in the RFK Stadium press box. I told him more than once how thrilled I was to receive a signed copy of his book, then hear him speak.

When I heard that Tom was retiring, I opened my copy of his book and took a look again at the inscription. Tom has been a wonderful mentor and a trusted colleague, but most of all, just as he wrote before we knew each other, he is my friend.

Christine Brennan is a sports columnist at USA Today. She covered sports at The Washington Post from 1984 to 1996.

Ken Burns

I’m not sure I have earned the right to call the great and now retiring Tom Boswell “Boz,” but I know for certain he has made a remarkable contribution to my own work by giving us two superb interviews for “Baseball” (1994) and “The Tenth Inning” (2010). And he has added immeasurably not only to my own appreciation of the game I have loved since I was a little boy but to its adult nuances and hidden signs, messages and manifestations.

From his innate understanding of the comical pathologies of Earl Weaver and the disturbing and sinister pathologies of Billy Martin to the glory that was Cal Ripken’s tenure and reign; from his celebration of the improbable continuities and reassuring eccentricities of our national pastime to his oh-so-wise observations on the steroid era and its most complicated star, Barry Bonds, Tom has rearranged my basic take on the game — and made, without a doubt, our films so much better and my continuing love for baseball that much deeper.

About the steroids scandal, he helped us transcend the infuriating stances of the so-called purists, as well as the outraged self righteousness of the moralists, by giving us elegant, if not sobering, insights into how to cope with the pain and frustrations and betrayals of that whole sordid business. He did that quoting John Keats on William Shakespeare’s great strength — “negative capability” — to help us all get down off our high horses. Shakespeare. Who knew? The great closer.

I hope retirement will be rewarding for Tom, but our game has lost one of its greatest scribes — and cleanup hitters.

Ken Burns is a documentary filmmaker.

Jayson Stark

Let’s start with this. One of the reasons I wanted to be a baseball writer is that Tom Boswell was a baseball writer. From the moment I started reading his stories, his columns, his books, he left a mark on me. He was a baseball writer who could always see there was more there than just baseball. His appreciation for the numbers, for the people, for the real-life sagas that unfold every day in this game helped shape my own appreciation for those things.

I have lots of Boz memories. But my favorite was this one. During the 2019 World Series, I wanted to write a column about the Washington baseball drought, those 95 years between Walter Johnson and Stephen Strasburg, and what it all meant. I talked to lots of people. But my favorite conversation, by far, was the one I had with Boz.

We sat in the press box at Nationals Park for a half-hour. Mostly, I just listened to him talk about his life as a lover of baseball in his city. Decade after decade after decade of seeing no teams win anything — and only one team (Ted Williams’s 1968 Senators) even finish with a winning record before the 2012 Nationals came along.

So when those 2019 Nationals changed that narrative, who could capture the meaning better than Boz? He never, for one second, tried to argue that Washingtonians deserved a place on the Drought Mount Rushmore with Cubs fans, Red Sox fans, Giants fans or White Sox fans. But when I asked him to define what the rest of us should make of Washington’s messy century of baseball, he summed it up better than anyone I know.

“It’s a 118-year-old [slop] sandwich,” he said. “And this is dessert.”

Thanks for the epic quote, my friend. But mostly, thanks for setting an example for all the rest of us baseball scribes to follow.

Jayson Stark is a senior baseball writer at the Athletic.

Jeff Passan

For all of his bona fides, Thomas Boswell did nothing better than project extreme amounts of authority without sounding like a know-it-all. This is a delicate balancing act for anyone, but it’s especially true for the sportswriter, who easily can veer from telling a story to talking down. Boz always avoided the trap. Even though he knew more than all of us, he never acted like it.

There is danger in covering a sport for generations, the propensity to romanticize people and styles, to rage against a game’s natural evolution. And yet five decades into his career, never did Boz strike anyone inside the game or reading at home as a Luddite. It takes a specific sort of humility to understand one’s place in this ecosystem that is ultimately egalitarian. Baseball — sports writ large — will accept all. But it will embrace those with an open mind.

He is a thinker, someone who chose his words with precision, and a dreamer, magnetically pulled toward the most interesting parts of the game but never at the expense of the true story. He was prolific, fast and smart, a triumvirate of qualities rarely seen in the same reporter. Seeing Boz clacking away at his computer — and clack may be too tame a verb, as his fingers were hammers to the nails on the keyboard — was to see art being made in real time. His words harmonized.

They did so because his ideas elevated them. Boz, having mastered this racket long ago, having reached excellence at an earlier age than most, could have punted on the part of writing that takes the most: effort. In every press box there’s a sheet of imaginary postage stamps that writers access too frequently. Mailing it in is a tried-and-true tradition. Boz, if he wanted, could write a column with both eyes closed and his brain on autopilot.

He cared too much to do that — too much for the sport, too much for his readers, too much for his own sense of pride, which was big but not so oversized that it changed him. Boz was just Boz, his knowledge endless, his style unique, his voice unmistakable.

Jeff Passan is a senior MLB insider at ESPN.

Ken Rosenthal

My favorite story involving Boz goes back to June 1993. Only I can’t really call it a “favorite.” I can laugh about it now, but I recall the moment as one of the more frustrating of my career.

I was a general sports columnist for the Baltimore Sun, focused heavily on baseball. Boz was a general sports columnist for The Post, focused heavily on baseball. Technically, we were in “competition.” But I was only 30 at the time, quite inexperienced as a columnist, and Boz was at the peak of his powers. So the “competition” was more like a Class AA pitcher against Hank Aaron. On this particular day, one Boz probably doesn’t even remember, he took me deep into the upper deck.

The Orioles were coming off a massive brawl with the Mariners, triggered by Mike Mussina drilling Bill Haselman (and other questionable pitches by the Mariners’ Chris Bosio). The next day, I huddled in the Orioles’ clubhouse with the late Doug Brown, a diligent, veteran reporter. We agreed to check every Orioles player to make sure he wasn’t injured. We overlooked just one. The one who never got hurt. Ripken.

The next day at BWI Airport, I picked up The Post and there was Boz’s column, detailing how Ripken’s consecutive-games streak had nearly ended. Boz painted the scene as only as he could, building his column on the foundation of his reporting, which was always an underrated part of his game.

I flung my newspaper into a chair at the airport — hard — before I was even done reading. Others noticed my tantrum, which only added to my embarrassment. A little over two years later, Ripken would break Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-games record. Boz would roll on for nearly three more decades at The Post, forever pleasant to those of us who were trying to do the job as well as he did but never could. He is the most gentle of giants. And there were days, so many days, when his brilliance made the rest of us feel small.

Ken Rosenthal is a senior writer at the Athletic.

Tim Kurkjian

As a kid growing up in Bethesda, Md., I was hopelessly devoted to baseball, an addiction that grew even stronger reading one of my champions of journalism, Thomas Boswell, every day in The Washington Post. At Walter Johnson High School, named after the greatest pitcher of all time, I decided I wanted to be a baseball writer. I wanted to be Tom Boswell.

Boz educated me, informed me and entertained me every morning. I covered some games with him — but not near him, that was too intimidating — in the late 1970s and early ’80s, but at the 1986 American League Championship Series in Anaheim, the seating chart had me sitting right next to one of my writing heroes. In the second inning of Game 4, with the score tied 0-0, Boz whispered to me, “This is 4-3 game.” And, of course, the Angels won, 4-3, in 11 innings. The next game, Game 5, remains the greatest game I’ve ever covered in 41 years as a baseball writer; the Red Sox won in 11 innings, 7-6.

And what made it even greater is I covered it with Tom Boswell to my right.

Tim Kurkjian is a reporter, analyst and senior writer at ESPN.

Dan Shaughnessy

I grew up, live and work in Greater Boston, which we consider the hub of great baseball writing. So imagine my surprise when I came to the Baltimore Evening Sun to cover the Orioles as a 23-year-old cub in 1977.

This is when I learned of the best baseball writer of them all — Tom Boswell. After two seasons at the Sun, I went to work at the late, great Washington Star, where I was supposed to compete with Tom Boswell. It was no competition. I was the Washington Generals. Tom was the Globetrotters.

But I learned a ton, just reading Boz and working alongside him for five wonderful seasons. I was and remain stunned by his generosity and humble nature. We were allegedly competing but never had a bad moment. Tom helped me with everything, and I am forever grateful.

My final and favorite memory of Tom was working in the row behind him at the 2019 World Series in Houston, watching him craft his story past midnight while the Nats celebrated their Game 7 win. In our town, Ted Williams was famous for wanting folks to see him and say, “There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived.'' That’s what I’ve always thought about Boz. The best there ever was.

Dan Shaughnessy has been a writer and columnist at the Boston Globe since 1981.

We invited readers to share what they most appreciated about Boswell as a sportswriter.

Boz is simply the best! I’m a real oldster, and have enjoyed many columnists over the decades starting in the 1950s. None are Boz’s superior, and few are his equal, either in subject expertise, wordsmithing, and general humor and good will.

Arthur Berger, D.C.

Tom Boswell is everything that makes daily journalism great. He’s that hopeful feeling you get when you open the morning paper looking for inspiration, a life lesson or just a damn good read.

I was 8 years old when I first discovered Boz in the pages of The Post. Reading him was a master class in the art of being a sports fan. He taught me when to cheer and when to boo, how to celebrate wins and analyze losses.

In the fall of 1985, I took my dog-eared copy of “How Life Imitates the World Series” to college, and it inspired me to become a writer. Three weeks ago, it was a birthday gift to my baseball fanatic son. In the years between, Boz’s columns and chats kept me connected to my teams and beloved hometown even though there’s a continent between us.

Reading Boswell made me want to be a better fan, a better writer, a better thinker, a better person. He’s that favorite teacher who becomes a great friend, the life-changing mentor who first shows you the world and all that it can be.

Thanks for everything, Tom. Those 12 million words were a life-changing gift.

— Hayes Jackson, Los Angeles

Some writers impress because of their deep understanding of certain sports — combining numbers that insiders use to make decisions with a wealth of rich, firsthand stories. Others exhibit a big picture, almost philosophical view of sports and make thought-provoking connections across different ones or, better still, with real life. And still others simply write beautiful prose, building sentences and paragraphs into entire columns that are almost like works of art. Boz somehow does all three, consistently.

Much as he described Shirley Povich in his most recent chat, I almost feel as if he’s a family friend, as if I know him well through his writing. Thank you Boz, for all the years, the words, the teaching and the wisdom.

— Ferdie Wang, Bethesda

Unbelievable and unbelievably consistent, unique, compelling insights and perspectives that shed light, often in truly profound ways, on teams, individuals and issues — not only about sports but also through sports about human nature, business, creativity, society, often in the same column! Elevated sportswriting into an art form. Extraordinary, irreplaceable and utterly to be missed.

— David Wickenden, D.C.

I treated [games] as purely social events … until I started reading Boz’s columns when I retired in 2013. His obvious love of the game drew me in until his columns became what I read first in The Post, instead of the front page or politics.

Soon I was spouting insight on bunting, sacrifice flies, preserving pitcher’s arms, should the Nats keep Bryce, team culture (I know this is basic stuff, but really, I had tuned out all details). What a delight to engage in a baseball conversation! I pushed my husband to sign us up as half season ticket holders. I joined a chat group with college friends about the Nats. Grew frustrated when people talked through games: Why weren’t they paying attention?! By the time the World Series rolled around in 2019, I was an informed and rabid fan and could savor every minute. Thank you, Boz.

— Laura Gerke, Vienna

His way with words, his knowledge, his ability to find a fresh angle, his temperament. Finding new things to say about the local teams, without resorting to the heavy artillery of rhetoric unless absolutely called for, is an incredibly hard task. Boswell is an exemplar among those who have attempted it.

Andrew Malone, Silver Spring

In 2012, as it became clear that the Nats were headed to the playoffs, Boz was an indispensable companion along the way. For so many of us, it was the first time our team was good. Each and every column felt like advice on how to handle it. On how not to get too high or too low over the course of a long season. On how to constantly remind yourself of how much fun it all is and how special it is to have a winning team. It was exactly what I and so many others needed that season and beyond. Boz is definitely responsible for helping me become the baseball fan I am.

Jesse Ellis, Fairfax

His writing was fantastic, his roots local. He combined a passion for sports with superb training in usage of the English language. He was our Murray, our Rice, our Angell, our Deford. He was ours. And he had a wide knowledge that led to many accurate analyses and predictions. Furthermore, he always urged us to find joy in our rooting. His columns always went down easy, even if he was sharing hard-to-swallow truths about our teams or sports in general. His humility made him great. Boz never treated us readers as uninformed ignoramuses. He respected us and wrote to us and chatted with us accordingly. He was a Washington monument and never knew it — or acted like it — in a city brimming with egos.

Ralph Stice, Savannah, Ga.

More than anything, I appreciated reading Boz, learning something I would have never thought of even as an obsessive fan and then asking my dad whether he had read Boz that day. His work provided the basis for an innumerable amount of conversations between my dad and me for so many years.

Will Kubzansky, D.C.

Boz often captured what I was thinking and feeling but never could have found the words to express in any coherent fashion. As a service member with D.C. roots, his columns and chats always helped me feel connected with the D.C. sports scene, even while serving thousands of miles away.

James Vinson, Spangdahlem, Germany

He put sports in a context that made fandom feel like a sophisticated and even highly meaningful pursuit. His approach was the opposite of some macho, crass radio jockeys, who too often focus on the ugliest aspects of sports and make you feel stupider and meaner for having listened to them. Instead, he focused on the surprisingly deep bonds that communities, families and friends can share thanks to their common affection for sports, teams and players.

Matt Schulman, New York

He is irreplaceable. I have never met him but feel like I’m losing a close friend. Maybe that’s the best compliment I can give him. I will miss him.

David Miller, Leesburg