The reason I’m here


I hope you’ll pardon my use of this space to tell you about someone you’ve probably never heard of. Then again, I do think it relates.

If you happen to think I have any merit at what I do writing about sports, then I ask that you thank Mark Leary, my first sports editor “who died last night of cancer”:

I’m not sure where I fit in in the grand hierarchy of sports journalists, but I think for the most part I’m doing OK. And that’s because of Mark. He hired me from a part-time position at The Journal News back in the days when part-time reporters simply didn’t get hired full-time; and later he promoted me to national golf writer, sending me to places like Augusta, Ga. and Scotland, and actually paying me to be there.

By the time I took over the Rangers beat, Mark had already taken leave because of the cancer that had come out of remission in 2005, but he always knew what the game meant to be. A running joke between us was the number of bangs and bruises I walked into the office with because of my own late-night hockey games.

I’ve never known a better motivator, and Mark did it in two ways: he believed in me. And he scared the crap out of me.

He was a tough editor, but he was also brilliant, and unpredictably kind. When my wife and I were expecting our little boy, there was a chance the birth was going to conflict with the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. I wanted to talk about contingency plans, but Mark would have no part of the conversation. “There’s no way you’re missing that,” he said. “You’re staying home.”

I made sure to bring pictures of little Charlie when I, along with our Yankees writer Peter Abraham, visited Mark’s hospital bed last week. Mark smiled at the photos and pulled them closer to his eyes.

My little boy has a house, a yard, even a couple of hockey sticks now that we bang around in the driveway. I’m one of the lucky ones in life who can pay for all that stuff thanks to a job that I absolutely love.

Without Mark Leary, I’m not sure I’d be able to say that. And I know for sure that I wouldn’t be able to do that job nearly as well.

About Author


  1. Well Sam, YOU are one of the best thing to happen in the world of the NY Rangers in a long time. So I offer my thanks to your friend and boss Mark for obviously knowing a winner when he sees one. God Bless him and his family….

  2. hockeymanrangers on

    Sam I am so glad you shared your thoughts about your fellow editor and sounds like a good friend. When you lose someone to that type of disease it hits you very hard. And you have a great way to express yourself in your writing. Keep up the great work, I and I think a lot of other fans appreciate your NY Ranger insight. Bless Mark Leary his family and friends.

  3. My condolences to the Leary family on their tragic loss, and to you too Sam for losing evidently such a good friend and a great mentor. Like Cliff said, you are doing great things for us the fans, the team, and the sport in general, and we all appreciate everything you do, and now respect the fact that you are as proficient as you are thanks to a great man. He will be missed and I’m sure he was, and always would be proud of you and the work you do.

  4. Doodie Machetto on


    I offer you and his family my deepest condolensces. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say we all are very sorry for your loss.

  5. sam the difference between you and every other sportswriter out there is what you just did here, sharing your personal life with the fans that contrary to popular belief are actually people as well and not just the unrulely mob that players, coaches, and the media portray us as. this kind of trust in your readers is much appreciated and will only make your following more loyal and stronger than ever. i think i can speak for all of us when i say we are deeply sorry for your loss and you and your friend are in our prayers.

  6. Sam,

    Really sorry to hear about your loss, it’s always hard to lose someone that is so close to your life. Please wish Mark’s family our condolensces.

  7. My deepest sympathies are with you, your co-workers and the Leary family. Thank you for sharing this story.

  8. HockeybasedNYC on

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend Sam…

    I must say Mark did a pretty damn good job.

    I have two Ranger Blog bookmarks on my browser, one connecting to your blog and the other with Steve Zipay’s from Newsday – lets just say i hit the one that is marked “SW” plebnty more than the one thats “SZ”.

  9. Hey Sam,

    Sorry to hear you’ve lost a colleague and a friend.
    His spirit lives through you everytime you do the job you do so well.


  10. Sam, my condolences on the loss of your mentor/friend. Having lost a couple of close friends recently, I can understand how sad and surreal it must be.

  11. Patrick Hoffman on

    My deepest sympathies go out to you, The entire Journal News staff and Mr. Leary’s family. He must have been a great guy if he hired someone like you.

    Your Friend,

    Patrick Hoffman

  12. Anthony (Abev) on

    Sam, It’s been a few years since I was involved in coaching at the Varsity level (and American Legion Baseball) but one thing I can say is the few occasions I had the chance to speak to Mark he was very cordial and attentive.

    No matter what Mark chose to do with the story or idea I had for him, he always made me feel like it mattered to him.

    He will be missed.

  13. I think that Sam Weinman is one of the most talented sportwriters out there, I appreciate his insightfulness as well as giving the story a personal side. Not only because he is my brother.

  14. Hi Sam,

    First my condolences on your loss. I think all of us have our own Mark Leary’s in our life. Someone who believed in us, gave us a break when we needed it and has been a rock to us both professionally and personally. I am sure thi sis a great loss for you. However, I am sure that whereever Mr. Leary is right now he is looking down and smiling now on you and your family. I, personally, can tell that Mr. Leary could spot talent because I enjoy your work in The Journal News and online on this blog. You bring a passion to writing about the Rangers that is unique and admirable. I have been reading the Journal news for over 10 years and your writing has been a breath of fresh air. Your insight and down to earth style in endearing and gets to the heart of the typical Ranger and sports fan. Thanks for you committment and passion for hockey and journalism. I should also thank Mr. Leary for his part in helping you get to where you are today. Take care,


  15. Sam – I too add my condolences on the loss of your friend and mentor. He obviously left a lot of good friends and family who will keep his spirit alive as long as each of them walk this planet.

Leave A Reply