What is Zisk Zine?
From Mike Faloon:
In one sense Zisk started on my moms back deck in suburban
Syracuse. My high school friends and I spent hours there hanging
out. We seldom watched or listened to or read about baseball at
that pointmusic and comedy and movies were more likely topicsbut
baseball references were a given. Whether it was great names (Bake
McBride, Joe Zdeb) or distinctive hair (Rollie Fingers, Oscar Gamble),
we were constantly mining the minutiae wed gleaned from the
trading cards wed devoured as kids.
In another sense Zisk began on the lower east side of Manhattan.
Id moved to New York by the mid-90s. I was playing in
bands. Matt Braun and Ethan Cohen were, too. The three of us would
hang out before and after shows on the sidewalk outside of the Continental
on 3rd Avenue talking about obscure players from the 70s.
The setting had changed but the conversations were remarkably similar
to those in Syracuse.
Matt, Ethan, and I all wrote in some capacity and one of us proposed
starting a baseball zine. It seemed like too strange an idea to
me, covering mainstream content with an underground publication,
but they pointed out that Johnny Ramone was a rabid Yankees fan
and Maximum Rock and Roll editor Tim Yohannan was rumored to be
a Giants fan. More importantly, Matt had access to free photocopying.
Naming our zine was easy. I went back to those high school conversations
and proposed my go-to: Richie Zisk.
Zisk #1 appeared in the fall of 1999. We sent copies of the debut
issue to every potentially sympathetic soul we could think of. The
coup was an interview with our namesake. I can still recall being
at work one day when my uber-authoritarian boss said in her subzero
Czech accent, Michael, there is someone named Richie Zisk
for you. I called in sick the next day and conducted Zisks
But Zisk didnt really take hold until Steve Reynolds came
on board as co-editor. He and I were friends from college. Steve
was a contributing writer from the start. By issue #8 he was doing
all of the layouts and organizing our production schedule. Zisk
would have run aground long ago without him.
Since then weve met up once or twice a year to battle photocopiers,
gripe about the Mets, and marvel over the writing weve had
the good fortune to publish. Few thrills match that of seeing a
new essay from the likes of Rev. Norb (Boris the Sprinkler) or Todd
Taylor (Razorcake) waiting in my inbox. Or John Shiffert (The Breaks
Even Out and Midnight Comes Quickly for Cinderella). Or Ken Derr
(how is it that no one else is publishing this guy?).
Whats surprised me the most over the years is how often
I hear a comment like this: I dont like baseball, but I love
Zisk. Our writers are so good at conveying their passion for the
game, exploring ideas not addressed anywhere else. Need a guide
to the best baseball statues in Chicago? No, its not likely
that you do, but Jake Austen knew that when he embarked on such
a guide. Its his enthusiasm that makes the piece compelling,
along with the precision of this thinking and his humor. Likewise
for Nancy Goldens In the Pink or Brian Cogans
Rusty Staub: Heroism from Left to Right Field. I could
go on for another 90,000+ words, but then what would be the point
of the book?