Marty Dobrow strives for the empathy required of all good writers and good readers. He believes in the transformative power of the written word. He holds fast to the conviction that the good story can touch us, and teach us, and make our lives richer. It can deepen the day.
Dobrow’s two books—and the majority of his nationally acclaimed newspaper and magazine stories over the past twenty years—deal with sports. For Dobrow, sports are a lifelong passion. He revels in the unscripted drama of athletics, the rawness, the intensity, the sense of being richly alive. More deeply, Dobrow finds sports to be a path to the kinds of poignant human-interest stories that are at the core of his writing.
His book, Knocking on Heaven’s Door: Six Minor Leaguers in Search of the Baseball Dream (University of Massachusetts Press, 2010), taps into an iconic quest in a way that transcends the cliché. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called the book "a beautifully written, meticulously orchestrated account of the families, common agents, notable triumphs, and devastating failures of half a dozen talented young men who want to play in the Major Leagues." A review in the journal of the Sport Literature Association called Knocking "the rarest of sport literature: the true baseball story...that tells us the truth about the game without sugar-coating its unpleasantries or removing its warts--while still making us love it all the more." And Alexander Wolff, longtime senior writer for Sports Illustrated, says that Knocking on Heaven’s Door is "as lively, intimate, and engrossing a book as Hoop Dreams was a movie."
Dobrow’s first book was Going Bigtime: The Spectacular Rise of UMass Basketball (Summerset Press, 1996). Widely celebrated from Sports Illustrated on down, the book examined the pros and cons of a rise to the top in college basketball. It explored John Calipari’s transformation of UMass from one of the worst programs in the country in the 1980s to one of the best in the ’90s. People close to the UMass program reaped tremendous benefits, and also experienced a profound loss of innocence.
A regular contributor to espnboston.com, Dobrow has written on a freelance basis for numerous publications, including The Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated, espn.com, yahoo.com, and the International Herald Tribune. In two of the last four years, Dobrow has earned first place in the magazine-length feature division of the annual writing contest sponsored by the United States Basketball Writers Association. He has also earned national writing awards from organizations such as the Associated Press Sports Editors, the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the Sunday Magazine Editors Association, and the Education Writers Association.
On five occasions, Dobrow’s work has been recognized in the annual Best American Sports Writing series published by Houghton Mifflin. The 2010 edition honors Dobrow's Globe story, "Covered in Glory" (published February 8, 2009).
Outside of sports, Dobrow’s magazine writing has run the gamut from an account of a day at Foxwoods Resort Casino with senior citizens, to a behind-the-scenes exploration of the staging of "Romeo and Juliet"; from a profile of an eccentric veterinarian, to a first-person hitchhiking travelogue; from an exposé about a troubled high school, to a recounting of a little known but remarkable day in the life of Martin Luther King.
Born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Dobrow came of age in suburban New York. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Dobrow has cleared trails in the backcountry of Yosemite and Olympic National Parks, taught Shakespeare and milked cows at a tiny Quaker high school, and coached the Riverbend Animal Hospital team in the Northampton (Mass.) Little League.
Dobrow is an associate professor of communications at Springfield College. He lives in western Massachusetts with his wife, Missy-Marie, and their three children, Jeremiah, Sarah, and Josh.