Ken Gurnick’s nickname is mouse for his small stature, but in reality he is a beat writing titan. After four decades of writing about the sport he loves, Gurnick is retiring from the Dodgers beat.
Game Over: My first season covering the Dodgers was '82. My last day is today. Retiring from the coolest job ever at the perfect time. Forever grateful to: followers and readers for nearly four decades; the Dodgers; execs that launched and grew MLB dot com; & Allan Malamud. -30-— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) December 28, 2020
Gurnick has written about the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001, and among his stops before that was the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. Gurnick is one of a number of veteran MLB.com reporters to retire this month, along with Jeffrey Flanadan (Royals), Joe Frisaro (Marlins), Chris Haft (Giants), Greg Johns (Mariners), and T.R. Sullivan (Rangers), who like Gurnick have decades of experience.
In my years of writing about baseball, nobody truly covered the Dodgers like Gurnick. He would know the ins and outs of every single person on the team, from the stars of the team to those on the fringes of the roster, bringing us stories of all of them.
If a pitcher was off schedule with a bullpen session, Gurnick was usually the first to know. Someone sat out batting practice? Gurnick knew. He always knew, thanks to painstaking attention to detail.
Gurnick’s wealth of experience gave him unique perspective. He was a beat writer for the Dodgers’ last two championships, which came 32 years apart. He was present during Tommy Lasorda’s “What’s your opinion of [Dave] Kingman’s performance?” rant.
Just about every significant Dodgers event of the last 40 years was covered by Gurnick. It was a joy to talk baseball with him, and I’m thankful he indulged my many queries. I mentioned my love of watching (and keeping score) of the Dodgers’ 22-inning game in Houston from 1989, and of course Gurnick was there. Late in 2019, Gurnick brought his old scorebook to the press box, and even had the pencil he used to keep score of the game.
The legendary @kengurnick covered the Dodgers in 1989, and he *did* keep his scorecard from the 22-inning game in Houston. And he even has the same pencil he used 30 years ago. This is awesome pic.twitter.com/OicWKULXcD— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) September 20, 2019
Just about anyone who has worked alongside Gurnick had good things to say about him on Monday.
I have shared many a press box with Ken and was always amazed by his relentless drive and amused by his desert-dry wit. So happy for you Ken. So sad for myself. We all lose something with Ken’s retirement. Beat will never be the same without you. Enjoy the next chapter. https://t.co/DLjZCgYXkt— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) December 28, 2020
From the late great L.A. Herald Examiner to the dot-com world, here's a toast to a diligent, terrific, insightful beat writer. Cheers, Ken! https://t.co/cBxl89xeVt— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) December 28, 2020
If you got to Dodger Stadium around 1 p.m. for a night game, you saw two things: Clayton Kershaw was running in the outfield. And Ken was at his seat in the pressbox, binoculars at the ready.— Andy McCullough (@ByMcCullough) December 28, 2020
A model of consistency, a model for how to work a clubhouse. An icon of the business. https://t.co/0JPccyGYSX
Ken deserves all the adulation you're reading today from his press-box mates. He garnered just as much respect from the players he covered. He deserves a standing ovation in Dodger Stadium, or at least a toast at Clearman's North Woods Inn. Our tweets will have to suffice. Bravo! https://t.co/e7xjcpRW15— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) December 28, 2020
Covering baseball at Dodger Stadium won’t be the same without Ken. Will miss seeing him around and learning something new basically every time I read his notes. https://t.co/hEIuM1nnKw— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) December 28, 2020
Ken is one of the best people I’ve met in this business. He’ll be missed at the ballpark. https://t.co/G843mGwzw4— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) December 28, 2020
I was Ken’s intern for a season and now I am wistful. He was and remains a tremendous mentor. He wasn’t the easiest nut to crack, but that summer is somewhere high on my career achievement list: proving myself to him. He owned the Dodgers beat. Low-key dominance, the best kind. https://t.co/EclBdLvllr— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 29, 2020
Much love and congrats on a great career. Enjoy your retirement with your family! https://t.co/51GmkmSZkW— Matt Kemp (@TheRealMattKemp) December 29, 2020
Happy retirement Ken! https://t.co/jopfycOIiw— Dee Strange-Gordon (@FlashGJr) December 29, 2020
For 38 years, Ken covered the Dodgers with professionalism, insight and dedication. Congratulations on a terrific career! https://t.co/GcQz0Rpb5J— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) December 28, 2020
Personally, when I first started covering baseball games in person in 2009, I knew very little about how to go about it. Gurnick, Dylan Hernandez, and Tony Jackson, three of the full-time beat writers at the time, were incredibly generous with their time and encouragement, answering many questions I had, and helped me considerably along the way.
I consider Gurnick a role model in many ways, a truly nice person who was amazingly thorough at his job, with a tireless work ethic. The Dodgers beat won’t be the same without him.
Links & news
- Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda was hospitalized on November 8 in Orange County, and though he’s been out of intensive care for roughly a month he remains hospitalized. “There was some hope that he might be released for the holidays,” writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “But Lasorda’s doctors have opted to keep him in the hospital where his condition can be monitored.”
- Old friend Charlie Culberson signed a minor league contract with the Rangers that includes a non-roster invitation to spring training. The utility man, who hit a division-winning walk-off home run in Vin Scully’s last home broadcast in 2016 and who hit .500 during the 2017 postseason with the Dodgers, spent the last three seasons with the Braves, and singled twice in three at-bats for Atlanta in this year’s NLCS.
- Gurnick picked the best Dodgers at each uniform number for MLB.com, from the legendary (Clayton Kershaw, Mike Piazza, Sandy Koufax) to the obscure (Onelki Garcia, Josh Ravin, Casey Sadler), and several in between.