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Pulitzer winner delved into politics, baseball

| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 7:38 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Richard Ben Cramer, whose narrative nonfiction spanned presidential politics and the game of baseball, has died. He was 62.

Cramer died Monday at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore from complications of lung cancer, his agent, Philippa Brophy, said. Cramer lived with his wife, Joan, on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Cramer won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting from the Middle East while with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Other notable work included a best-selling biography of New York Yankees great Joe DiMaggio, an influential magazine profile of hitter Ted Williams and a critically acclaimed, behind-the-scenes account of the 1988 presidential race, “What It Takes: The Way to the White House.” Cramer was known for an in-depth reporting style that involved spending significant time with the subjects he profiled and re-creating scenes with vivid color and dialogue. His 1986 profile of Williams in Esquire magazine traced the slugger's career from early days to post-baseball life in the Florida Keys, where, Cramer wrote, locals might run into him at the tennis club, coffee bar or tackle shop.

His book on the 1988 presidential race delved into the lives and careers of the candidates, explaining how eventual winner George H.W. Bush had early in his political career resisted the urging by advisers to speak openly about his war record or the death of his young daughter from leukemia — personal topics he later discussed movingly during his campaign.

Vice President Joe Biden, who ran for the White House in 1988 and was featured in the book, said, “It is a powerful thing to read a book someone has written about you, and to find both the observations and criticisms so sharp and insightful that you learn something new and meaningful about yourself.”

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