Daniel Okrent (1948
- ), is an author, editor, and publisher perhaps best known for his appearance on Ken Burns
' documentary Baseball
and his revered status as the inventor of fantasy sports
A Detroit native and a graduate of Michigan University Okrent has been in the writing business for his entire adult life. While many associate him sportswriting due to his two books on baseball, his association with Burns' documentary, and his many memorable articles in Sports Illustrated, Okrent has in fact written on an enormous variety of topics and his work has appeared in almost every major American magazine at some point. Among his other exploits, Okrent was as a general editor at the Alfred A. Knopf, Viking Press, and Harcourt Brace publishing houses, and was the founding editor of New England Monthly magazine. From 1991 to 2001, Okrent served as an editor with Time Inc., including a role as Managing Editor of LIFE magazine. In December of 2003, Okrent was named to a controversial appointment as the inaugural "public editor" of The New York Times, which is basically a sort of watch-dog who is supposed to "monitor" the Times for "editorial integrity" on behalf of the "public interest" (you can hear the echoes of the Jayson Blair scandal and other recent troubles at the Times).
But if Okrent is only remembered for a single thing, it will be his creation of the first "Rotisserie" baseball league in 1980, which was also the first fantasy sports league of any kind. In November of 1979, while on a flight to Dallas, Texas, Okrent sketched out the rules and format for the first fantasy baseball league in history. Had the friends he was going to visit been more receptive to his strange idea, the game would have been known to posterity as "Pit Baseball", after the Austin barbecue joint where Okrent first unveiled it, but he was met with indifference, so instead the game became known as "Rotisserie Baseball," after the New York restaurant where he pitched it to a more receptive bunch, "La Rotisserie Francaise."
Books by Daniel Okrent:
- The Way We Were: New England Then, New England Now, 1989
- Baseball Anecdotes, 1993
- Ted Williams: The Seasons of the Kid
, 1991 (co-author)
- The Ultimate Baseball Book, 1991 (co-editor)
- Our Times: An Illustrated History of the 20th Century, 1995 (co-editor)
- Fortune: The Art of Covering Business, 1999
- Nine Innings: The Anatomy of a Baseball Game, 2000
- Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center, 2003