Jeff Passan is a national baseball columnist for ESPN.
A Cleveland native, Passan gained an interest in journalism after gravitating toward newspapers as a child. His dad started working at The Cleveland Plain-Dealer in December 1963, a week after President John Kennedy was shot. Then, his father worked in the sports department, initially serving as a general assignment reporter whose focus was covering Cleveland’s NHL team.
Passan gained his first journalism experience when he was 14 years old, earning an internship at The News-Herald, a local newspaper in suburban Cleveland. He covered local high school basketball and football games after getting a car and eventually began freelancing for The Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
Passan knew that he wanted to pursue a career in sports journalism and was accepted to Ohio and Syracuse universities. He was admitted to Ohio University’s honors college but chose Syracuse because the school’s athletic programs played within the Big East conference.
After appearing in The Daily Orange’s office his first day on campus, Passan joined the newspaper’s staff. His first story was on a women’s tennis athlete and his second featured a freshman defensive end. Passan gained experience on the men’s soccer beat and covered the school’s swimming and diving teams before eventually becoming the paper’s assistant sports editor. Passan was the sports editor for two semesters and the newspaper’s managing editor his senior year.
During his time at Syracuse, Passan earned internships at Baseball Weekly, The Buffalo News and The New York Star-Ledger. After graduating, Passan was hired as an intern at The Washington Post.
Passan’s first full-time job came at the Fresno Bee, where he was hired to report sports enterprise stories during the week and write about the NFL on weekends. However, the Fresno State beat reporter began focusing on an academic fraud investigation surrounding the university. Passan covered the school’s basketball program as a result and worked for the paper until 2004.
Passan moved on to cover baseball at The Kansas City Star until 2006, when he joined Yahoo! Sports for 13 years before landing at ESPN.
The Associated Press Sports Editors deemed Passan one of the country’s best columnists in 2016. In addition to covering baseball, Passan is the co-author of Death to The BCS: The Definitive Case Against The Bowl Championship Series and author of The Arm.