Danny Knobler is a National MLB Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.
Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your dream and when did you realize you were walking in it?
Danny Knobler: I had an idea from the time I was a kid that I wanted to write about sports. I liked playing, but (maybe because I realized I wouldn't be good enough) I was always drawn to reporting on sports. You don't always know how things are going to work out, but I was able to follow my instincts, take advantage of some opportunities presented to me and get jobs that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Dreaming Made Simple: What was the process for you to land your first gig reporting on big-league baseball?
Danny Knobler: In school at UCLA, I worked at the student radio station KLA, and also in the sports information department, where I was responsible for baseball PR. That led to a job at Baseball America. During my 5 1/2 years there, I came to realize that what I really wanted to do was cover baseball on a daily basis for a newspaper. I applied for many jobs, both covering big-league teams and minor-league teams, but couldn't get anything. I left Baseball America at the end of 1988, moved to Los Angeles, and worked free-lance. That November, I got a call from a friend of my brother, telling me that a friend of his was looking for a writer to cover the Tigers for Booth Newspapers. I immediately made a call, and also got people I knew to put in good words for me. I got an interview, and was fortunate enough to get the job.
Dreaming Made Simple: What does the average fan not realize about the work of beat reporting?
Danny Knobler: I don't think people understand how much the job can consume your life. You go away to spring training in the middle of February, and from then until the end of the season you are on the road more than you are home. You have very few nights free, and few weekends. You are at the ballpark from 3 in the afternoon until sometime around midnight. When your friends are having parties, too often you have to say you can't make it. That said, I love the job.
Dreaming Made Simple: What lessons have you learned along the way?
Danny Knobler: Oh, you learn a ton. I'd say the biggest thing you understand is how the job is about relationships as much as it is about anything else. You're going to have people you like and people you don't like, but the key is developing enough relationships so that people want to (or are willing to) help you. You learn that it's a game of personalities, and that a manager earns his money at least as much before and after the games as he does during the game.
Dreaming Made Simple: What’s the most harrowing moment you’ve had as a beat reporter?
Danny Knobler: I'm not sure I ever had a harrowing moment, but I'll tell you a couple weird travel stories. First was a day when I had to get from Detroit to Baltimore for a Tigers game against the Orioles. There was a hurricane coming up the East Coast, but during the day it wasn't raining in Baltimore. Our flight took off from Detroit, but the captain said that there was a chance we could be diverted to Philadelphia, and that in that case we would be bused to Baltimore. Halfway to Baltimore, he came back on and said that we were going back to Detroit. So I ended up back at the Detroit airport. The next flight to Baltimore was sold out, and I couldn't get on it. I then got a flight to Washington National Airport, and got a car to drive to Baltimore. The Capital Beltway was flooded, though. I had the Orioles network on the radio, and at 6:55 they came on and said it had started to rain in Baltimore and the game was delayed. I pulled into Camden Yards around 8:30, saw the whole game (including Eddie Murray's 500th home run), and wrote about it.
The second one, I was going from Chicago to Pittsburgh. My flight was cancelled, and the other flights were sold out. I finally got on a delayed flight that landed in Pittsburgh around 8 p.m. They had made me check my bag, and by the time I got my bag and got to the airport, the game was over (fastest game of the year, it turned out). I went in anyway, got some details, called the manager at the hotel for some quotes, and wrote a story about a game I had never seen.