clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Earl Woods dies at age 74

This is totally irrelevant, but I think this story deserves to be told:


The WSJ :: Earl Woods Dies at Age 74

Earl Woods, the first black baseball player in what is now the Big 12, an ex-Green Beret and the father of Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, died yesterday at age 74.

Earl will be remembered most for introducing to his 10-month-old son a sport he himself hadn't picked up until middle age, then instilling in Tiger a love for the game and making absurd declarations about his son's potential that have largely been proven true. He was "the most famous and accomplished sports parent in history," Shaun Powell writes in Newsday.

And so much more. "Earl never paid much attention to stop signs or road maps," GolfDigest.com's Pete McDaniel writes, adding: "He spoke out against racial intolerance, abhorred ignorance, and took every occasion to celebrate even the most mundane victory, realizing that for every hurdle cleared there were a dozen more waiting. He chain-smoked after two heart bypass surgeries and prostate cancer. He never read the fat- or cholesterol-content labels on the back of packaging. He lived by intuition. He died that way, too."

Among the many revelatory interviews with Mr. Woods over the years, two stand out. Four years ago, Observer Sports Monthly's Lawrence Donegan visited Earl in his home, and found a shrine to Tiger. "All of the wood you see is walnut," Earl says. "It is built to last -- because I am certain that one day the birthplace of Tiger Woods is going to become widely acknowledged."

Mr. Donegan notes, "In stark contrast to his famous (and famously guarded) son, Earl Woods has made a career out of such outlandish assertions, so much so that one begins to wonder why anyone wastes their breath interviewing Woods Jnr."

Six years earlier, Sports Illustrated's Gary Smith profiled Tiger, the magazine's 1996 Sportsman of the Year. The golfer was battling the "machine" of sports commercialization, homogenization and destruction of stars. "We are witnessing the first volley of an epic encounter, the machine at its mightiest confronting the individual groomed all his life to conquer it and turn it to his use," Mr. Smith wrote. "The youth who has been exposed to its power since he toddled onto The Mike Douglas Show at three, the set of That's Incredible! at five, the boy who has been steeled against the silky seduction to which so many before him have succumbed. The one who, by all appearances, brings more psychological balance, more sense of self, more consciousness of possibility to the battlefield than any of his predecessors."

Earl famously told Mr. Smith in 1996 that "Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity." In 2000, Slate's Robert Wright considered whether Earl might have been on to something. However, Tiger's prickly, private persona today, in the face of the machine described by Mr. Smith, suggests this is one of Earl's prophesies that hasn't yet been realized.

In all other respects, at least, Earl was pleased with his son's place in the game, and in life. A few months before his death, he told Golf Digest's Tom Callahan, "Now, Tiger is really at peace. Which means, now, he's really dangerous."

If you want to browse more stories, click here.