Jack Curry: YES Analyst talks Journalism, Yankees

Jack Curry, a journalist, and YES Network analyst answers questions about his career, covering the New York Yankees and his outside of baseball interests.

My first interaction with Jack Curry came about a little over a year ago regarding his Hall of Fame ballot, specifically his reasoning for his selections. What impressed me about Jack wasn’t just that he took the time to answer a question or explain his process, but that he took the time to help an inspiring journalist, reading an article I sent over, and subsequently provided feedback.

Recently, Jack took the time to talk about his career, providing insight across working for the New York Times and his eventual transition to television with YES Network.

William: First off, for people who don’t know, you’re a baseball analyst for the New York Yankees for their pre-game and post-game shows on the YES Network. You’ve written for the New York Times, can you begin by telling how you got started in this business?

Jack Curry: I trace my start in the business back to being a seventh grade student who started a newspaper at my elementary school. The school didn’t have a newspaper so I asked one of our teachers about it. He suggested we start one. We did and I was hooked on writing and reporting.

Even though I maintained the far-fetched idea that I could be a major league player (who didn’t?), I knew that I would probably end up as a sports journalist. I played baseball in high school and was the sports editor of the school newspaper.

At Fordham, I went to one baseball practice before realizing that wasn’t my calling. I signed up for the school newspaper and the school radio station the next day.

After graduating from Fordham, I worked at the Star-Ledger of Newark for one year. From there, I was hired by the NY Times and ended up spending 22 years at that newspaper. I loved my tenure at The Times. I covered major league baseball for close to 20 years and learned a lot from my colleagues at The Times and my competitors from the other New York newspapers. 

When you’re thrown onto a NY baseball beat in the middle of the season, as I was in 1991, you learn quickly about hard work and competition and writing quickly and building sources. In those days, we had to cover the team and we also had to cover George Steinbrenner. He was his own beat so it was vital to have a working relationship with him.

I left The Times after 2009 and joined the YES Network as a pre-game and post-game analyst and had always been intrigued by the idea of doing full-time TV work and some friends implored me to give it a try. I love the immediacy of the job and the chance to analyze what’s happening on the field.

While I’m on TV now, I still take a newspaper reporter’s approach to my job. I over-prepare because I never want to be in a position where I have nothing to say. If Bob Lorenz, the host of our shows, asks me anything about the Yankees, I feel I should have an interesting answer.

William: What would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learned since when you started and how things are today?

Jack Curry: The most important things I’ve learned as a journalist are you need to be curious, aggressive and passionate. I think all of these are self-explanatory. If you’re not curious, you shouldn’t be a reporter.

I’ve uncovered some of my best stories by simply asking a few questions. If something doesn’t look or seem right, ask about it. To be competitive in this business, you need to be aggressive. Make the extra call. Develop more sources. If you’re content to stand in the background for every interview, you’re cheating yourself and your employer.

We all need to have passion for what we do. I’ve loved baseball since I was five years old so I’m never bored when I get to cover baseball games. Every game is a new challenge so I’m fortunate that my passion never fades.

William: Of all the Yankees you’ve gotten to know, is there any favorite players or moments you’ve witnessed?

Jack Curry: I’ve had a lot of memorable moments while covering baseball. If I had to pick one, it would be the night the Yankees won the 1996 World Series.

I was writing the game story for The Times and I remember how the press box was literally shaking as the Yankees took control of the game. As I was trying to focus on writing a cogent story, it was hard to ignore the fact that it felt like I was in a roller coaster.

William: A lot of baseball writers share their Cooperstown Hall of Fame ballots, as the announcement of those being inducted (Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez headlining the 2017 class) were announced in January. What do you think about the process as far as how voting is these days, specifically pertaining to how some writers might go about their ballots, i.e. sending in a blank ballot or keeping players out because they don’t deem them a person of desirable qualities such as perhaps a Curt Schilling?

Jack Curry: I take a lot of pride in having a Hall of Fame vote and I do a lot of research and a lot of interviews before deciding who I will check on my ballot. I don’t want anyone to tell me how to vote so I’ve never told another voter how to vote. I hope and trust that everyone takes the process seriously and votes with his or her own conscience.

William: Do you have any advice for those looking to get into journalism or sports media?

Jack Curry: I receive a lot of emails from aspiring journalists and I’m as honest as possible in answering their questions. My advice to high school or college students who want to be sports journalists is to try and be as versatile as possible.

Unfortunately, we hear stories every day about another organization that’s cutting jobs. If someone makes himself versatile, that allows him to pivot and move in different directions.

When I was in my senior year at Fordham, I sent resumes to newspapers, magazines, radio stations and TV stations because that gave me more job opportunities. I decided I would take the best job offer. It ended up being a newspaper position.

Willam: I have to ask, you ran the NYC marathon. What was that experience like, and how did you decide you wanted to do that?

Jack Curry: When I was about to turn 30, my mother passed away. It was devastating. She was only 55 years old, but she was a smoker, she contracted lung cancer and the last few years of her life were very difficult. As I approached 40, I wanted to do something to honor the 10-year anniversary of her passing.

I was a recreational runner and had never run more than five miles at one time. So I decided to run the NY Marathon and dedicate it to my mother.

Every day I trained, I said a few prayers as I spoke to her so the training was comforting. I ran the marathon with “Chief” written on my shirt because that was her nickname. Other than the day I got married, it was the most exhilarating day of my life. 

William: What’s something about you that people wouldn’t know?

Jack Curry: If people follow me on Twitter, they know that I’m a music fanatic. I’m into a lot of different types of music, everything from punk rock to reggae. My Twitter feed is probably 75% baseball and 25% music.

My brother (Rob) and I still attend a lot of concerts together, a tradition that started when we saw the Clash when we were both still teenagers.   

You can catch Jack Curry on YES Network providing Pre-Game and Post-Game Analysis of the New York Yankees. Readers can follow Jack Curry’s work @JackCurryYES.