Horse racing, and especially horse-racing writers, lost a great friend when Joe Hirsch died Friday at age 80.
Hirsch was the sort of industry giant whom young writers could be nervous about approaching. But he was the sort of man who solved that problem by going out of his way to approach young writers first.
I was one of countless newcomers to the racing beat who received a sincere welcome from Hirsch — and a copy of a vital equine guidebook, which Joe handed to me the first time we met. Joe cared enough about the sport and the turfwriting craft to want us all to do it right.
Hirsch, who retired a few years ago, had been the Daily Racing Form’s heavyweight columnist for decades and had been the first president of the National Turf Writers Association. His final act of inspiration was simply showing up for major racing events for two decades despite a battle with Parkinson’s that would have stopped a person with any less devotion to his profession.