William Nack, Horse Racing Scribe Who Covered Secretariat, Dies At 77
Noted horse racing writer WILLIAM NACK , whose biography of SECRETARIAT is considered "one of the greatest racing books ever written," died on Friday at the age of 77, according to Matt Hegarty of the DAILY RACING FORM. Nack was SI’s lead horse racing writer from '78-'01, and his accounts of the sport "ranged from the heroic to the tragic." He won seven Eclipse Awards and in '92 was "voted the Walter Haight Award winner by the National Turf Writers Association, honoring lifetime achievement." Nack worked at Newsday before joining SI, and he left the magazine in '01 to freelance (DRF.com, 4/14). SI.com's Tim Layden wrote Nack was a "towering figure in the history of sports journalism, a literary wordsmith and tireless reporter whose distinctive and soaring prose is revered by his peers and generations of younger writers." He stands "among the best sportswriters in the history of the genre" (SI.com, 4/14). THE MMQB's Peter King writes Nack "could write anything with the best sportswriters of all time." King: "You’d never know he was revered like few others in the history of our industry." The megastars "loved him and felt fortunate to be in his presence" and the "youngsters and new writers learned how to act when you get to the top of the business -- because Nack never big-timed them." The writing world "will miss him" (SI.com, 4/16).
THE BEST OF THE BEST: THE ATHLETIC's Richard Deitsch writes of Nack, "He is, in my subjective opinion, the greatest writer in the history of Sports Illustrated, a master of brilliant reporting, thunderous prose and excellence no matter the sport or profile subject" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/16). In Tulsa, Guerin Emig writes Nack "could make the plunger in your bathroom fascinating, but he applied his prose to sports and I am eternally grateful for that" (TULSA WORLD, 4/16).
MORE THAN JUST HORSE RACING: In Vancouver, Patrick Johnston notes Nack was "more than just a racing writer," as he wrote memorable profiles of boxers SONNY LISTON and ROCKY MARCIANO. He also "went on the hunt for BOBBY FISCHER." Johnston: "Another of the SI kind that we're not likely to see again in sports journalism" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 4/16). Nack's story on Marciano "served as the basis of a 1999 MGM telefim that starred JON FAVREAU as the famed undefeated boxer" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 4/15).