Let's capture some of why we loved Wilke so much. As one friend of his put it:

"...write up an anecdote – some story where they watched Wilke build up into righteous anger when reporting a story... or ironing out a crease in the fabric of the Journal bureau... And someone should talk about him tearing up when he described taking his kid to college…..Or when he became nearly inconsolable when the anthrax story came back and cost him two fantastic seats at the Nats-Mets game. Describe a time he filled in for people, picked up their loads for them, counseled them, slipped them incredible sources, shared bylines... that will keep him alive and you (and the rest of us) afloat."

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Major League

Wilke was a sweet bear of a man, with a gentle and respectful demeanor that seemed almost quaint. He was also a helluva journalist. I know. As a “government official” during the Microsoft trial, I can say that getting a call from Wilke was like stepping into the batter’s box against an exceptional Major League pitcher.

He had a dazzling fastball – on display on the many occasions when he’d call with a great story in the bag and graciously offer us the opportunity to comment. Often, though, Wilke would fall back on an amazing repertoire of off-speed stuff. He had a great change-up – he would puzzle out loud like Colombo, and invite one to “explain” how things were (I might have fallen for that one more than once). He also had a brutal knuckleball – he’d call with a completely outrageous, wacky question, hoping his prey would pop his cork and give up some tidbit that he could knit into a story. (I might have bit on that one too.) And, there was an occasional high inside pitch – I can remember one that resulted in a bench-clearing brawl involving players from both teams. Wilke was always fair, but he was a fierce competitor.

He was formidable on the field. But when the day was over, Wilke was a grand, gracious, decent and compassionate guy to share a drink or three with – to share stories about “the game,” and about politics, life, sports and the family he so loved. He was a first-rate human being and friend, and I will miss him a great deal.

Jeff Blattner

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