I wasn't that familiar with Boston Globe baseball writer Nick Carfardo's work.
Every now and then, I'd rechannel my baseball junkie childhood and download a Sunday Globe just to peruse Carfardo's extensive notes column. Or, I'd read one of his game stories or feature on a Red Sox player.
Carfardo, 62, died this week while doing the job that never got old for him, covering the Red Sox beat for the Globe. He collapsed outside the team's spring training clubhouse, and was rushed to the hospital. His death ended a 40-year newspaper career. Along with his weekly columns, feature stories and game coverage, Carfardo also wrote several books, including one on the New England Patriots from a year he spent covering pro football.
His colleagues like Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy said he never took a day off, and traveled with the Red Sox on every road trip, season after season. Even when traveling, he'd carry out his extensive reporting for his notes column, which covered the entire Major Leagues.
Mentored by Will McDonough, and following in the tradition of notes column originator Pete Gammons, Carfardo remained true to his newspaper calling. Although ink ran in his blood, the notes column generated national online readership. Baseball traditionalists liked that he still talked to scouts, even when their authority had been undermined by the new generation of metrics gurus.
A chorus of tributes from colleagues and baseball insiders had a common theme that Carfardo was a generous, modest man in a field of competitive, ego-driven self-promoters. Competitors from other newspapers recalled their love for him.
Carfardo had escaped another Massachusetts winter to head to spring training in Florida, full of the hope of another new season. But Opening Day will arrive without Nick Carfardo, leaving an emptiness at Fenway Park's press box.