Farewell for Now

For the past seven years, I’ve had the honor and privilege of writing for FanGraphs and its associated blogs, RotoGraphs, NotGraphs, and The Hardball Times. For the seven years prior to that, I had the honor and privilege of working for the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club. That’s a pretty neat coincidence. Looking back at the beginning of my adult life, I also spent seven years prior to joining the Rockies either in college or working a series of short-term jobs in order to build up a career. Triple sevens.

So, it seems like every seven years — or, as I’m approaching that seventh year — I look for a new challenge. This time around has been no different. Leaving the best job you’ve ever had is certainly not an easy thing to do, but for the second time, I’m about to do so. I am bidding FanGraphs and THT (mostly) farewell, as I take on what will most assuredly be my greatest challenge to date — opening up an independent bookstore.

Around this time last year, word began to spread that the bookstore in my town, Acton, Mass., was going to be closing. That was hard to fathom, since it had been in business for over 20 years. As I spoke with friends and neighbors around town, the feeling was the same: “Where do we buy books now?” And so my wheels started turning.

The result, barring last-minute hiccups, will be The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, which I hope to open at some point in March.

The store’s website is but a humble splash page at the moment. Once it’s set up, though, you will be able to purchase books from it online.

While I’m excited for my new (ad)venture, leaving FanGraphs and THT is going to be incredibly bittersweet. Looking at the Blog Roll recently, I realized I’ve worked with nearly every person on it. The relationships I’ve formed with my colleagues past and present, and with you, the readers, are something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

First and foremost, I have to thank David Appelman, not only for approving my initial hire as a writer, but then also agreeing to let me typeset The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2013 and, after that, agreeing to let me help lead THT’s transition to its current iteration and take over as managing editor. In between and after, he has trusted me with jobs like planning company trips, designing/ordering t-shirts, and managing interns. These were jobs that I was not always qualified to perform. I will miss working with him very, very much.

I’ll also desperately miss working with the editing team at THT — Joe Distelheim, Jason Linden, Dustin Nosler, and Greg Simons. Each one of them has stood by the site through thick and thin, and each one has bailed me out of plenty of jams.

Though I haven’t worked with her as long, Michelle Jay has become an invaluable person in my work life. Whatever the task at hand, I know that Michelle will get it done quickly, competently, and with a smile.

Of course, there’s all the people who I work with on the FanGraphs side: Carson Cistulli, Sean Dolinar, David Laurila, Eric Longenhagen, Chris Mitchell, Eno Sarris, Travis Sawchick, Jeff Sullivan, and Jeff Zimmerman chief among them. There’s also the people who I work with to produce stuff behind the scenes: Mary Craig, Mina Dunn, Jen Mac Ramos, Sarah Wexler, and intern Bailey Winston. There are countless others who I do and/or have worked with at FanGraphs and THT. I started building a list of a few particular people, but that list started to snowball, so I’ll simply thank Dave Studeman for trusting me to succeed him at THT. I’ve really had the pleasure and privilege of working with a tremendous amount of tremendously talented people.

Finally, there’s Dave Cameron. That Dave hired me in the first place is a bit breathtaking, knowing my credentials at the time and the credentials that would be subsequently required to write for the site. Objectively speaking, Dave never should have hired me. That he didn’t fire me once he did hire me is just as breathtaking. As he has reminded me, when he hired me, I claimed I would write for the site on a daily basis. I never did that. In fact, I think three original pieces per week (not counting chats) was probably my high-water mark, and for most of my tenure it was two or fewer. I owe Dave a great deal for not only hiring me, but for sticking with me as well.

Before this piece gets too sappy, I should note that my successor is a lot better at all this than me, so FanGraphs and THT are definitely not going to feel a pinch from my departure.

I should also note that I’m not leaving completely, hence the “For Now” in the title. I titled it as such because David Appelman has graciously agreed to let me start the FanGraphs Book Club. We won’t begin right away — I need to get the store open first — but hopefully around the start of the regular season, I will be back, with the goal of hosting a chat once every four-to-six weeks, on a particular baseball book that we’ll choose together. The idea is that we’ll pick a new baseball book ahead of time, and that book will be available for purchase through my store — in person and online — at a discounted rate. Hopefully, we can have a lot of fun with it, the same way we always have had in the FanGraphs After Dark chats.

I could keep writing this post forever. FanGraphs will always feel like home to me. But in the interest of (relative) brevity, I’ll stop here. Thanks as always, for reading and interacting with my work — it means everything to me. See you in a few months.

Paul Swydan used to be the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for Boston.com and The Boston Globe. Now, he owns The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Acton, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan. Follow the store @SilUnicornActon.

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Michael Barr
6 years ago

One of the best. Onward, Swydan!