One of baseball’s pressbox personalities has passed away, so I turn to my assistant, Tom Whitfield:

Joe Strauss, never averse to sneaking a downer of a story into a newspaper over the holidays, has done it for the final time. It was his obit, published last weekend in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Richmond native. Leukemia. 54.

Joe was a tireless reporter and columnist, liked by all, save the occasional baseball executive who thought he should worship the home team. Before joining the P-D in 2002, he worked five years in Baltimore, reporting on the Orioles and helping the Sun shape coverage for a new era.

P-D Editor Gilbert Bailon: “Joe never shrank from giving his opinions, whether to newspaper management or to baseball managers. His sharp wit, clever turns of phrase and vast knowledge of sports made him a treasure as an employee and as a writer respected by our readers.”

Joe’s first baseball beat was in Atlanta in the late 1980s. The Braves were finishing last every year, and Joe chronicled how and why they stunk. Even in his 20s, his baseball insights were keen. At this early juncture, all those insights led to overwrought prose. Said one colleague: “His breezy stuff reads like a tax bill.”

After the 1990 season, the Journal-Constitution decided to change baseball writers, with little thought as to Joe’s replacement. At the same time, WSB-AM cut the Braves loose. Horrible team, no problem. The heartburn kicked in when …

The Braves carried Atlanta’s best sports story ever to extra innings in the seventh game of the World Series. As the story built, Joe’s insights were missed.

After covering baseball in the ’96 Olympics, Joe was off to Baltimore and St. Louis, integrity intact, to be appreciated by more sophisticated sports sections and fan bases. R.I.P.

The P-D obit: http://tinyurl.com/hx6mno9

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