If you like to read good stories about sports in this town, you probably know all about Mark Kram Jr. of the Daily News. He is, without a doubt, the best long-form sportswriter in Philadelphia. Mark's stories are the ones they always run in the newspaper on the Fridays or the Tuesdays when none of the local teams have been in action -- because they want to give Mark extra pages for his prose, and they want you to pay full attention.
Most sports journalists write about games. Mark writes about human beings. You know, it always get mentioned (and here I am, falling into the same trap) that Mark's dad was a famous writer for Sports Illustrated back in the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s, covering the larger than life canvas of Ali and Frazier in their heyday. That is interesting...in the way of trivia. Mark Kram Jr. shows day in and day out that you can be a great co-worker, a great husband, a great dad to two successful daughters -- and a great sportswriter at the same time. To me, that's worth about 1,000 "Thrilla in Manilla"s.
There's only one thing Mark has never done in his career, and that is...write a book. Until now. His long awaited tome, Like Any Normal Day, is finally out. It tells the kind of poignant story that is Mark's forte: The saga of Buddy Miley -- the high school quarterback for Warminster in Bucks County left paralyzed after a hit in a game in 1973 -- and how it affected the people closest to him. It is a book about family -- the book you would have expected Mark Kram Jr. to write one day, and to knock out of the park. The reviews have been amazing.
"Buddy had the outward manifestations of paralysis, but what I realized was that because of what happened to him, people that were close to him suffered a certain paralysis emotionally, and I thought that was interesting to examine. I think it's universal," Kram Jr. said. "This is a book that tries to delve into the human heart. It's a meditation on duty and sacrifice, and it steps away into a love affair at certain points."
It sure sounds like a good book to take with you on a perfect summer weekend, down the shore or just to your back porch. That's what I'll be doing -- and then I'll see you here Sunday night.