Steve Rushin

Steve Rushin is an American journalist, sportswriter and novelist. He was named the 2005 National Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association,[1] and is a four-time finalist for the National Magazine Award.[2]

Steve Rushin
Steve Rushin, author
Born (1966-09-22) September 22, 1966
Elmhurst, Illinois, U.S.
OccupationJournalist, novelist
Notable worksRoad Swing (1998)

The Caddie Was A Reindeer (2004)
The Pint Man (2010)
The 34-Ton Bat (2013)

Sting Ray Afternoons: a Memoir (2017)
SpouseRebecca Lobo (2003–present)
ChildrenSiobhan, Maeve, Thomas and Rose

Early life

Rushin grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota, the third in a family of five kids.[3] "Beer has long been in my blood, and not just in the literal sense," he wrote. "My ancestors were much practiced at naming bars."[4] In 1946, his father's father, Jack Rushin, opened a saloon on Market Street in San Francisco he called Jack's. But the neon sign Jack Rushin ordered came back misspelled. Faced with a costly correction, he installed it unaltered, which is why San Francisco had—under different ownership—a famous nightclub of the '50s called Fack's. Rushin's maternal ancestry consists of a long line of big-league baseball players, firefighters, and bar owners named Boyle. His grandfather Jimmy Boyle played catcher for the New York Giants in 1926 and his great-uncle, Buzz Boyle, was an outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Their uncle, Jack Boyle, had a long career with the Phillies, then became nearly as renowned as the owner of a bar in downtown Cincinnati. In 1954 Steve's father, Don, was a blocking back for Johnny Majors at the University of Tennessee. And Steve's older brother, Jim, was a forward on the Providence hockey team that reached the Frozen Four in 1983.[5]

He recalled his businessman father making him look up words in their big red dictionary so he could report on what they meant. His mother, Jane, was a teacher who thought his love of reading and writing meant he should become a lawyer. After her abrupt death on Sept. 5, 1991, of amyloidosis, Don took up golf at 57. "He and my mother had always played tennis – a couples' game of mixed doubles and tennis bracelets and Love-Love," Rushin wrote. "But in mourning, Dad turned Job-like to golf, a game of frustration and golf widows and solitary hours on the range. On his first visit to a driving range, my father struck a steel stall divider with one of his drives, and the ball rocketed back into his privates, beginning a long history of violence and comedy – often combined – in the Rushin golf game."[6] In Bloomington, young Steve watched baseball and football games at Metropolitan Stadium, where he sold hot dogs and soda to Twins and Vikings fans (for one year he also took in hockey in the pine-green polyester worn by vendors at the Met Center, home of the Minnesota North Stars).[7]

"When I was 16, my father, with Wite-Out, rolled forward the odometer on my birth certificate so that I could sell beer at Minnesota Twins games, where the official brand was Schmidt, whose brewery, in St. Paul, bore enormous, electrified letters that lit up at night," he wrote. "On those unfortunate evenings when every second letter failed to illuminate, you could drive by and see, like a beacon on the side of the brewery, a brazenly honest bit of beer advertising: SCHMIDT."[8] He is a graduate of John F. Kennedy Senior High School in Bloomington, and Marquette University in Milwaukee.[9] In college, he once recalled, he "did not bring down the Berlin Wall as my summer job. No, on my summer job, I worked at a Tom Thumb convenience store and wondered what would become of my life, and if that life would involve Slurpees. Standing behind the counter in a red smock, I envied the hot dogs as they rode all day on that little hot dog Ferris wheel."[9]


An inveterate reader of cereal-box side panels, Rushin cites as his earliest literary influences the copywriters at Kellogg's and General Mills, as well as the New York sportswriter Oscar Madison.[10] After reading a story by Sports Illustrated writer Alexander Wolff on the annual Gus Macker three-on-three tournament in Michigan, Rushin struck up a correspondence with Wolff. He ended up writing an anthology of sports nicknames. From A-Train to Yogi, with Wolff and Chuck Wielgus.[5] He joined the staff of S.I. in 1988, two weeks after graduating from Marquette. Within three years, at age 25, he became the youngest Senior Writer on the SI staff. In 1991, he was shuffled back to the Twin Cities to cover hometown reaction to the North Stars' first appearance in a Stanley Cup final in 10 years. The 15,000-plus crowds that jammed the Met Center for Cup games were a shock to Rushin, who hadn't seen a crowd that large in the arena in years—and certainly not when he and the rest of the Kennedy High Class of '84 held their graduation exercises there.

Three years later Rushin spent four months writing an epic feature for S.I.'s 40th Anniversary issue. The story of his journey was divided into five parts, each exploring an essential aspect of sports in America.[11] One section was a lament for recently razed Metropolitan Stadium, whose site became the Mall of America and housed more than 800 stores, making it the largest shopping center in the United States. "It's nauseating to think that above where Fran Tarkenton once scrambled, there's going to be an Orange Julius or a Gap," he said.[7] Rushin's essay – How We Got Here – spanned 24 pages and remains the longest-ever article published in a single issue of S.I. At the magazine, he filed stories from Java,[12] Greenland,[13] the India-Pakistan border[14] and other far- and near-flung locales. He covered the World Series,[15] the World Cup[16] and Wimbledon.[17] (And those were just the Ws). He ate his way around America's ballparks[18] and rode a dozen rollercoasters in a day.[19] His weekly column, Air & Space, ran from 1998 to 2007, and was often about sports.[3] He left S.I. in February, 2007,[20] returning in a contributing role in July 2010. He resumed his column - renamed "Rushin Lit" - on an occasional basis in October 2011.[21]

During his time away from S.I., he wrestled three bears during the 2009 PGA Championship. He became a contributor to Golf Digest and Time magazine, for which he wrote back-page essays.[22][23][24][25]

Rushin is the author of the billiards guide Pool Cool (1990),[26] the travelogue Road Swing: One Fan's Journey Into the Soul of America's Sports (1998),[27] the collection The Caddie Was a Reindeer (2004),[28] the novel The Pint Man (2010).[29] and the baseball historical The 34-Ton Bat: The Story of Baseball as Told Through Bobbleheads, Cracker Jacks, Jockstraps, Eye Black, and 375 Other Strange and Unforgettable Objects (2013).[30]

He has written numerous essays for The New York Times with memoirist and former Sports Illustrated colleague Franz Lidz.[31][32][33] Three of them appear under the title Piscopo Agonistes in the 2000 collection Mirth of a Nation: The Best Contemporary Humor.[34]


Rushin is married to college basketball analyst and former basketball player Rebecca Lobo. In S.I., Rushin, referring to Wilt Chamberlain's claim that he had slept with over 20,000 women, wrote that he had slept with more than 7,000 women in a single night. He was referring to a WNBA game he supposedly watched that put everyone to sleep. Rushin later recalled how Lobo confronted him in a Manhattan bar after reading that story. "She asked if I was the scribe who once mocked, in Sports Illustrated, women's professional basketball," he wrote. "Reluctantly, I said that I was. She asked how many games I'd actually attended. I hung my head and said, "None." And so Rebecca Lobo invited me to watch her team, the New York Liberty, play at Madison Square Garden. We both reeked of secondhand Camels. (And, quite possibly, of secondhand camels: It was that kind of a dive.) But my insult had been forgiven. It was—for me, anyway—love at first slight." He added: "She had the longest legs, the whitest teeth, the best-sown cornrows I had ever seen, and I imagined us to have much in common. I ate Frosted Flakes right out of the box, and she was on boxes of Frosted Flakes. I am ludicrous, and she was name-dropped in a rap by Ludacris. We were, I thought, made for each other."[35]

Rushin and Lobo live with their four children in Western Connecticut.[36] In May, 2007, he was the Commencement Day speaker at Marquette, where he was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters for "his unique gift of documenting the human condition through his writing."[9] "Sometimes it pays to think inside a box. And so my daughter and I lay in that box and gazed out at the dozens upon dozens of tulips my wife planted in rows last fall. They bloomed this month, tilting ever so slightly toward the sun. And I thought how remarkable it is that in nature, life wants to grow towards the light."


  1. "Peers to honor Nantz, Rushin for sports coverage". Associated Press. January 25, 2006. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  2. Flynn, Anne-Gerard (November 5, 2014). "Rebecca Lobo, Steve Rushin keynote speakers at Springfield College sports journalism program". The Republican. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  3. "'Pint Man' Mirrors Life Of Author Steve Rushin And Wife Rebecca Lobo – Page 2 – Hartford Courant". February 26, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  4. Hannah, Barry. "The Pint Man: A Novel (9780385529921): Steve Rushin: Books". Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  5. Donald J. Barr (November 6, 1989). "From The Publisher – 11.06.89 – SI Vault". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  6. Rushin, Steve (September 5, 1991). "Buddies Golf: All In The Family". Golf Digest. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  7. John Papanek (November 4, 1991). "From The Editor – 11.04.91 – SI Vault". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  8. Steve Rushin (December 23, 2002). "The Beer Necessities – 12.23.02 – SI Vault". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  9. "Commencement Address by Steve Rushin | Marquette University". May 20, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  10. "The Pint Man "Now in Paperback"". Steve Rushin. March 17, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  11. Mark Mulvoy (August 16, 1994). "To Our Readers – 08.16.94 – SI Vault". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  12. Steve Rushin (July 22, 1996). "DEEP IN JAVA, THE DREAMS HAVE WINGS – 07.22.96 – SI Vault". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  13. Steve Rushin (May 17, 1999). "You think golf is an unforgiving game? Then try playing – 05.17.99 – SI Vault". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  14. Steve Rushin (July 22, 1996). "SINCE THE TURN OF THE CENTURY, THE SPORT HAS BELONGED TO – 07.22.96 – SI Vault". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  15. Steve Rushin (November 1, 1993). "After his dramatic home run gave the Blue Jays a second – 11.01.93 – SI Vault". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  16. Steve Rushin (June 22, 1998). "Among the many surprises in a lively first round of – 06.22.98 – SI Vault". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  17. Steve Rushin (July 15, 1996). "After a fortnight of upsets and constant rain turned – 07.15.96 – SI Vault". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  18. Steve Rushin (October 19, 1998). "For a year the author cruised the highways and byways of – 10.19.98 – SI Vault". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  19. Steve Rushin (August 9, 1999). "Corkscrews, death dives, knife-edge turns: A new – 08.09.99 – SI Vault". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  20. Greenstein, Teddy (February 22, 2007). "Rushin set pace in Air and Space". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  21. "Steve Rushin Writer Archive". Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  22. "Off the Deep End". TIME. July 26, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  23. Rushin, Steve (August 2, 2007). "How Friends Make You Fat". TIME. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  24. Rushin, Steve (August 30, 2007). "The Waiting Game". TIME. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  25. Rushin, Steve (September 13, 2007). "Pen Pal". TIME. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  26. "Pool Cool : Rushin: Books". Pocket. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  27. "Road Swing: Rushin: Books". Random House. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  28. The Caddie Was A Reindeer: Rushin: Books. Atlantic Monthly Press. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  29. "The Pint Man : Rushin: Books". Doubleday. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  30. "The 34-Ton Bat : Rushin: Books". Little, Brown. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  31. We Know What You'll See Next Summer.., 11.15.98 - New York Times
  32. Here A Comic Genius, There A Comic Genius, 01.30.00 - New York Times
  33. How to Tell a Bad Movie From a Truly Bad Movie, 08.05.01 - New York Times
  34. Times, Funny. "Mirth of a Nation: The Best Contemporary Humor (9781567318333): Michael J. Rosen: Books". Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  35. "Most Popular". CNN. April 21, 2003.
  36. " She's A Rushin Now : Rebecca Lobo And Husband Steve Rushin To Speak At UConn Alumni Dinner". November 4, 2005. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
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