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The aboriginal time I bethink seeing Dave Anderson in activity was afterwards Bold 1 of the 1985 World Series amid the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals.

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Cesar Cedeno, whom the Cardinals had traded for Aug. 29, had apprenticed in the acceptable run. He hit .434 for the Cardinals in September and was acutely a absolute accountable for a late-night cavalcade — or, in my case, sidebar.

Standing at his locker, Cedeno told the adventure about how Jim Kaat, afresh the casting drillmaster for the Cincinnati Reds, had appropriate to Cardinals Manager Whitey Herzog over breakfast one morning in backward August that he barter for Cedeno to alter the afflicted Jack Clark.

As anon as Cedeno captivated up, I followed Anderson into Herzog’s office. I’d dealt with Herzog a fair bit during banderole contest in September and knew he blew hot and algid a lot. Even afterwards a victory, he ability be snappish. But I additionally knew that no one anytime airtight at Dave Anderson.

It wasn’t aloof that he was the rarest of the attenuate — a sportswriter with a Pulitzer Prize on his résumé — or that he’d been autograph thoughtful, astute and acute columns in the New York Times for about 20 years.

No, it was this: No one awful Dave. He was balmy and 18-carat and had a self-deprecating faculty of humor. No one would breeze at Dave, abnormally at midnight on deadline.

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I was wrong.

Anderson affably asked Herzog whether he could call the breakfast with Kaat that had led to the Cedeno trade.

“Why the [expletive] would I do that?” Herzog said. “You appetite me to address your [expletive] cavalcade for you?”

I was about to airing out — it was already midnight, and acutely this was a algid Herzog night. Before I got out the door, I heard Dave’s articulation again, calm as can be — a lot calmer than abundance would accept been.

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“Whitey, I’d applause it if you’d address my cavalcade for me,” he said. “Unfortunately, I’ve got to do it myself. Would you amuse do me a favor and acknowledgment the question. I’m not as acceptable at what I do as you are, so I charge all the advice I can get.”

Herzog smiled — and laughed, afraid his head. “Damn it, Dave, why can’t I anytime say no to you?”

Then he told the story.

Anderson, who died Thursday at the age of 89, was bigger than the blow of us. He fabricated a job that drives a lot of men and women to alcohol — amid added things — attending easy. He never acquainted the charge to acquaint anyone how acceptable he was or how abounding awards he’d won (including the Pulitzer, which came in 1981) or that he’d accepted best of the important bodies in sports during the additional bisected of the 20th aeon and the alpha of the 21st century.

There was a acidity to him that was subtle. I was advantageous abundant to sit with him in assorted columnist boxes and media centers, banquet with him and occasionally comedy golf with him.

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Dave admired to comedy golf. He was never a abundant player, but he was a reasonable one. His allowance admitting was in consistently accolade a way to adore arena the d — behindhand of how he played. Some of us can’t accept fun on a golf advance unless we’re arena well. Dave consistently had fun on a golf advance — behindhand of weather, tee time, clip of comedy or his score. Which, of course, fabricated it absurd not to adore arena with him.

Dave was a abundant reporter. Bodies talked to him, trusted him, told him things they weren’t apt to acquaint added people. He additionally knew a adventure back he saw one. I bethink walking assimilate the 17th tee box at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., during the additional annular of the 1993 U.S. Open. It was about a actor degrees out, but there sat Dave, attractive air-conditioned as could be.

“Why are you out here?” I asked.

“I anticipate [John] Daly can hit this blooming in two,” he said. “No one’s anytime done it. Ability accomplish a column.”

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Daly hit the blooming in two — authoritative history. I was alone out there because Payne Stewart was a attempt out of the lead. Dave not alone wrote a admirable cavalcade but additionally abject a abundant adduce from Stewart: “Did he hit the blooming in two? I wasn’t advantageous any attention.”

Dave consistently paid attention. He able me one of the aboriginal important acquaint of sports-writing: You’re consistently accustomed to basis for yourself. As in: Basis for the story, not necessarily for a aggregation or an individual.

Beyond all that, one affair set Dave afar from the blow of us: I never heard him complain.

Dave consistently did his job quietly, after calling absorption to himself. He had aught absorption in actualization on TV or in demography bows for all he had accomplished.

Every year, the New York-area Metropolitan Golf Writers Association gives an accolade to a biographer who has covered golf for a continued time with distinction. Dave won the accolade in 1996 — the alone catechism actuality what the heck took so long.

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Several years ago, Bruce Beck, admiral of the MGWA, approached Anderson with an abstraction brought to him by abounding accomplished winners: They capital to name the accolade for Dave. It would, Beck said, accord it gravitas to accept his name on it.

Dave told Beck he was flattered and accustomed that his colleagues would appetite to do article like that. But he asked Bruce not to do it because he didn’t appetite the absorption or the adulation.

“I’ve gotten abundant of that in my activity already,” he told Beck. “More than I deserve.”

For once, Dave had it wrong. He adapted every bit of the absorption and applause he accustomed — and more. He was, absolutely simply, the best of the best.

For added by John Feinstein, appointment washingtonpost.com/feinstein.

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