Koppett, Leonard

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KOPPETT, LEONARD (Kopeliovitch ; 1923–2003), U.S. sportswriter; only writer elected to both the baseball and basketball halls of fame. Born in Moscow, Koppett moved to New York at age five, living a block from Yankee Stadium. The family then moved to Brooklyn, where Koppett went to high school at Poly Prep, and then to Columbia College, where he wrote for the undergraduate Columbia Spectator. Through his job at the university's publicity office, Koppett eventually became the campus sports correspondent for The New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune. After graduating in 1944 and serving in the Army, Koppett landed his first full-time job with the Tribune, where he worked from 1948 to 1954, and subsequently at the New York Post from 1954 to 1963 and The New York Times beginning in 1963, covering the Yankees, the Giants, the Dodgers, the Knicks, and the Mets. In 1973, he became the Times' first West Coast sports correspondent, but tired of traveling, he quit in 1978. A year later, he was hired by The Peninsula Times Tribune of Palo Alto, California, serving as sports editor, editor in chief, and editor emeritus until the paper folded in 1993. He also wrote a general-interest column, which fed perfectly into his encyclopedic knowledge of astronomy, history, literature, music, art, theater, language, geography, culture as well as sports. Koppett, or "Koppy" as he was known, freelanced extensively, writing a column for The Sporting News from 1965 to 1984 as well as for The Oakland Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Mateo County Times, and later The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Healso wrote for numerous national magazines, such as Sports Illustrated, the Saturday Evening Post, Penthouse, and several specialty sports and airline magazines. Koppett was acknowledged for his analytical approach to sports that went beyond the frenzy of the moment, and for exploring issues that were not confined to events on the field. Koppett was the author of 16 books, most notably The Thinking Man's Guide to Baseball (1967), a benchmark work that introduced to the general public the basic concepts of looking at baseball performance in a new way. He also authored 24 Seconds to Shoot: An Informal History of the National Basketball Association, (1968), The New York Times Guide to Spectator Sports (1971), The Essence of the Game Is Deception: Thinking About Basketball (1973), Sports Illusion, Sports Reality: A Reporter's View of Sports, Journalism, and Society (1981), The Man in the Dugout: Baseball's Top Managers and How They Got That Way (1993), Koppett's Concise History of Major League Baseball (1998), and The Rise and Fall of the Press Box (2003). Koppett was elected to the writers' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994.

[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]