Daniel Okrent

Daniel Okrent

Daniel Okrent (born April 2, 1948, at Detroit, MI) is an American writer and editor. He is best known for having served as the first public editor of The New York Times newspaper, for inventing Rotisserie League Baseball,[1] and for writing several books, most recently Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.


Education and career

Okrent graduated from Cass Technical High School in Detroit[2] in 1965 and from the University of Michigan where he worked on the Michigan Daily. Most of his career has been spent as an editor, at such places as Alfred A. Knopf; Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich; Esquire Magazine; New England Monthly; Life Magazine; and TIME, Inc. His book Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center (Viking, 2003) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history.

In October 2003, Okrent was named public editor for The New York Times following the Jayson Blair scandal. He held this position until May 2005. He is known for coining "Okrent's Law" during his tenure as a comment he made about his new job. It states: "The pursuit of balance can create imbalance because sometimes something is true," referring to the phenomenon of the press providing legitimacy to fringe or minority viewpoints in an effort to appear even-handed.


Okrent invented Rotisserie League Baseball, the best-known form of fantasy baseball, in 1979. The name comes from the fact that he pitched the idea to his friends while dining at La Rôtisserie Française restaurant in New York City. Okrent's team in the Rotisserie League was called the "Okrent Fenokees", a pun on the Okefenokee Swamp. He was one of the first two people inducted into the Fantasy Sports Hall of Fame. Okrent was still playing Rotisserie as of 2009 under the team name Dan Druffs. Ironically, despite having been credited with inventing fantasy baseball he has never been able to win a Rotisserie League he has ever entered. His exploits of inventing Rotisserie League Baseball were chronicled as part of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary series in 2010.

Okrent is also credited with inventing the baseball stat, WHIP. At the time he referred to it as IPRAT, signifying "Innings Pitched Ratio."

In May 1981, Okrent wrote and Sports Illustrated published "He Does It by the Numbers." This profile of the then-unknown Bill James launched James's career as baseball's foremost analyst.

In 1994, Okrent was filmed for his in-depth knowledge of baseball history for the Ken Burns documentary Baseball. During the nine-part series, a red sweater-wearing Okrent delivered a detailed analysis of the cultural aspects of the national pastime, including a comparison of the dramatic Game 6 of the 1975 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds to the conflict and character development in Russian novels.


  • The Ultimate Baseball Book (co-editor, with Harris Lewine) (1979)
  • Nine Innings: The Anatomy of Baseball as Seen Through the Playing of a Single Game (1985)
  • Baseball Anecdotes (co-author, with Steve Wulf) (1987)
  • The Way We Were: New England Then, New England Now (1988)
  • Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center (2003)
  • Public Editor #1 (2006)
  • Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (2010)


  • Baseball (1994), (2010) | Documentary | Directed by: Ken Burns
  • Sweet And Lowdown (1999) | Role of: A.J. Pickman | Comedy-Drama | Directed by: Woody Allen
  • Wordplay (2006) | Documentary | Directed by: Patrick Creadon
  • The Hoax (2007) | Role of: Real Publisher #1 | Comedy-Drama | Directed by: Lasse Hallstrom
  • Silly Little Game (2010) | Documentary | Directed by: Lucas Jansen and Adam Kurland
Media offices
New title Public Editor for The New York Times
Succeeded by
Byron Calame

See also


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