Long ago or not too long ago, depending on whom you ask, the Boston sports media landscape was shaped, molded and skewered by two newspapers – The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald.
Both papers, but particularly The Globe, acted as the collective pulse for a city of people whose moods were often dictated by the success of their teams.
As a bright-eyed and ambitious college student at Boston College, Lesley Visser applied for the Carnegie Foundation Grant, which went to 20 women in America who wanted to go into jobs that were 95% male, “which were pretty much all jobs in 1973,” Visser, a Quincy, MA, native explained to Bob Ryan on Bob Ryan’s Boston Podcast.
Visser was later awarded with the prestigious honor, and naturally chose The Boston Globe as where she would begin her career.
From the mid ‘70s to the early ‘80s, The Boston Globe contained one of the greatest collections of talent ever assembled in a sports section.
Bud Collins, Ray Fitzgerald, Leigh Montville and Larry Whiteside are just a few of the legendary names of note. Visser joined Dan Shaughnessy and Kevin Paul Dupont (who still remain at The Globe) on many of the high school beats, while Peter Gammons and Ryan would often go back and forth with each other like an old married couple.
“I always tell people that you guys [Bob Ryan and Peter Gammons] were the original PTI [Pardon The Interruption],” Visser exclaimed to Ryan during the show, which was shot live by CLNS Media at Wahlburgers in Hingham, MA.
@CLNSMedia was on hand at @Wahlburgers in Hingham, MA, for a recording of @BobRyansPodcast. Bob talked with former Boston Globe colleague Lesley Visser about her legendary career, the incredible personalities she has worked with and Leslie's new book. https://t.co/JZo3MiB8HG pic.twitter.com/lO8Ysa1LLg
— Cory (@CLNS_Prescott) February 17, 2018
The collection of talent that was a part of the sports section at The Globe was paced by one of the most unique sportswriters ever, Will McDonough.
McDonough’s access was unmatched. He was the only guy who could get Pete Rozelle and Al Davis on the phone, Visser said.
“I remember when Will McDonough would go home, we’d all dive under his desk to get his rolodex,” Visser added as a testament to the collection of contacts and relationships McDonough had cultivated.
McDonough once beat the crap out of former New England Patriots cornerback Raymond Clayborn after Clayborn once made the mistake of poking McDonough in the chin during post-game locker room interviews, so it’s little surprise that McDonough told former Patriots owner Billy Sullivan that a woman would be covering the team.
“I remember Will called Billy Sullivan and said we’re going to have a woman cover the Patriots and that’s that,” Visser, who would become the NFL’s first beat writer with this job, added. “I couldn’t believe when I got to TV that not everyone was like that [McDonough].”
The Boston sports media landscape is now a truly different beast that has grown to truly monstrous proportions. The Globe and the Herald are still around (yet much less relevant), there’s two sports radio stations, numerous TV outlets and endless streams of content available at the click of a button.
For a brief period of time, however, Visser was a part of one of the most talented groups of reporters ever assembled.
CLNS Media was on hand to record this live podcast at Wahlburgers in Hingham, MA. Watch the clip above, then listen to Bob Ryan’s Boston Podcast in full.