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RIP John Brattain

24 March 2009

John Brattain, a passionate and devoted Montreal Expos fan, funny, talented and accomplished writer and all-around nice guy, has passed away. He was 43.

I first started corresponding with John back on the old FanHome/Baseball Boards Expos forum, a topic I wrote about last year. That was a decade ago. We kept in touch afterwards, cheering on each other’s career advancement.

John found success writing for a variety of outlets, always in his trademark style, one which combined a deep knowledge of the game with a healthy dose of wit. Some of his best-known gigs included The Hardball Times, Baseball Digest Daily, and Sympatico/MSN Sports.

He was also a prolific poster at Baseball Think Factory (nee Baseball Primer), where he never failed to make people laugh. Always signing his posts with “Best Regards, John”, he delivered some beauties over the years. Some of his best jokes, in fact, were terrible ones, somehow rendered great by John’s goofy delivery. BTF has a tribute thread up. I encourage every baseball fan who’s ever read John’s writing, and even people who haven’t, to check it out.

John and I were two of a small group of hosers with our names on the masthead of Raines30.com, a Tim Raines tribute site started by Expos fan and stathead kingpin Tom Tango that also included fellow Canadian seamheads Craig Burley and Neate Sager. John kept the group’s spirits up through the past two Hall of Fame voting seasons, each one ending in a No vote on Rock.

I do have a more personal story about John to share. As I’ve noted before on the blog, I knew I wanted to be a sportswriter at the exact moment that I realized I had no hope of making the NBA–roughly age 12. After a stint as co-sports editor at The Concordian, the school paper for Concordia University in Montreal, I won a summer internship, and then a full-time gig, writing for The Montreal Gazette. Though I was never a full-time sportswriter at the Gazette, I did cover a variety of sporting events for the paper as part of my catch-all gig.

After graduation, though, I found that landing a job as a full-time sportswriter was tough. Even tougher was finding a job that didn’t require spending 20 years paying one’s dues as a high school field hockey writer first. Facing those long odds, I instead turned to news and later business reporting, which remained my only gig for four years. By the start of the new millennium, though, I was keenly aware of the opportunities trickling in through the Internet. Thanks to my usual weasely maneuvering, I convinced the folks at Baseball Prospectus to give me a chance to write an article for them.

And so it was that on February 28, 2002, Baseball Prospectus published my article, “The Success Cycle”. That article would open up all kinds of doors for me. Without it, I’m still writing about the stock market, but you may have never gotten a chance to read some dude name-drop Nelson Santovenia into countless columns over the years.

It was an incredible thrill for me at the time too. I couldn’t wait to get feedback from people–positive, negative, whatever. Just the idea of writing a baseball article, getting paid for it, then getting to correspond with readers afterwards struck me as the best thing ever.

Just minutes after the article was posted, I got the very first feedback email of my sportswriting career.

The Subject was: “DUDE!!!!!!!”

Jonah:

Great column on BP! Kudos and congrats guy! Never too many Expos fans writing on the game eh!

More to follow I hope.

Best Regards

John

Never too many, John. I only wish we didn’t just lose one of the best.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. daynperry permalink
    24 March 2009 7:31 pm

    Thanks for writing this, Jonah. John will be greatly missed.

  2. sagsy permalink
    25 March 2009 9:12 pm

    Wait, Brattain sent the first response to Keri’s first professionally published piece of baseball writing?

    You didn’t cover any Stingers or Redmen games in your time in Montreal, did you, Jonah? That would be too weird.

  3. Jonah permalink*
    25 March 2009 9:15 pm

    I covered tons of Stingers games when I wrote for the Concordian, sure (some of them against the Redmen).

    And yes, it is pretty amazing that John sent that first BP email. Other than being shocked and saddened, that connection was the first thing I thought of when I heard about his passing.

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