Acclaimed for his books about Vietnam, America in the 1950s and 1960s, the automobile and media industries and the civil rights movement, David Halberstam was killed 10 years ago today while working on a sports book.
He was 73 at the time of his death in a car accident in Menlo Park, Calif., on his way to interview retired quarterback Y.A. Tittle about the 1958 NFL championship game.
That classic at Yankee Stadium between Tittle’s New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts was a hot topic for authors at the time. A year after Halberstam died, Mark Bowden published “The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL” and dedicated the book to Halberstam. Continue reading
Long before they were a respectable, much less dynastic, NFL franchise, the Pittsburgh Steelers were a treasured civic institution in western Pennsylvania, largely because of founder Art Rooney and his son, Dan Rooney.
Dan Rooney died this week at the age of 84, and his contributions to his community are just as important as how he helped shape the NFL in the years after the Steel Curtain dominance of the 1970s.
Later in life he served as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland under former President Barack Obama before returning to his position as chairman of the Steelers.
After 65 years, St. Anthony High School, located near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel in a gritty urban New Jersey setting, is closing its doors.
Basketball journalist Adrian Wojnarowski’s 2005 book “The Miracle of St. Anthony” went beyond the hoops success forged by Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley Sr. to detail the academic and life-saving exploits of a scrappy institution run by Felician nuns in Jersey City.
While the most famous graduates of St. Anthony are Hurley’s sons—Bobby, the NCAA championship-winning point guard at Duke in the early 1990s and current head coach at Arizona State and Danny, the head coach at Rhode Island—the school turned out many young graduates who never starred in any sports. Continue reading
It’s been 20 years since Tiger Woods took the golf world by storm at The Masters, and he’s just written a book about the experience as another tournament approaches in Augusta.
Woods, who turned 41 in December, continues to battle long-term injuries that may prevent him from competing again at The Masters next week. It’s been nine years since he last won a major tournament, and the last time he slipped on a green jacket at Augusta was 2005.
In the midst of the last decade, Woods was primed to achieve his ultimate quest of surpassing Jack Nicklaus as the all-time leader in major victories.
The 2009-10 season in college basketball was notable not just for the shocking run by Butler University to the NCAA championship game, but for what the Bulldogs represented. “One Beautiful Season” is the book that explains the deeper challenges and connections of the small-conference game that have fed the beast of March Madness.
Kyle Whelliston, creator of the now-shuttered Mid-Majority blog, was a passionate troubadour of the little guys for a decade (2004-14), traveling across the country (in often harrowing fashion) to capture the essence of the game played at the grassroots level, and whose best teams finally gave the bluebloods a lethal threat.
His self-published book grew out his blog and other freelance work, including a brief association with ESPN that ended in controversial fashion.
It’s been more than two decades since Pete Carril coached his last basketball game at Princeton University, and not long after the signature win of his distinguished career: A 43-41 upset of defending champion UCLA in the first round of the 1996 NCAA Tournament.
The so-called Princeton Offense, associated with deliberate half-court strategy, back door plays and low scoring, was quite the counter to the athletic, fast-breaking high-octane “programs” of the major conferences.
However, it might have been a first round NCAA tourney loss by Princeton a few years before that embodied what so many saw in Carril and a style of play often regarded as out of fashion, if at times necessarily effective. Continue reading
A generation before “Moneyball” and the analytics revolution, the Oakland Athletics represented the cutting edge of baseball in very different ways.
Instead of the data-driven, small-market efficiencies wrung out by Billy Beane, the brawling, “Swingin’ A’s” embodied the cultural excess of the post-1960s at the dawn of free agency in North American professional sports.
Winning three consecutive World Series will generate plenty of extended historical consideration, and the A’s continue to be a popular topic for authors and scholars for those and other reasons. Continue reading
At the risk of sounding like a “get off my lawn” Baby Boom geezer, does eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk seem like anything more than a cosmetic change to the baseball rule book that won’t really solve the pace of game concerns?
As Scott Simon said on NPR this weekend, such a move might eliminate about 15 seconds. In my youth softball league 40-plus years ago we did this, and it was more about the lack of skill of kids than anything else.
I understand the owners want to attract younger fans who don’t sit still for anything longer than, say, 15 seconds, but these are the same owners who approved the replay rule that has been a real drag on pace of play. Continue reading
The timing of Michael Novak’s death from cancer on Friday, at the age of 83, comes at an especially intriguing time in American politics and society.
The Catholic theologian and author of dozens of books, mostly about the convergence of religion, philosophy and public policy, is the author of the sports book that has influenced me more than any other.
“The Joy of Sports,” first published in 1976 and revised in 1992, is Novak’s metaphysical romp about sports and the deep meanings it holds for players and fans alike. It inspired me in part to begin this blog, and I think its message is even more relevant today. Continue reading
For a few years now I’ve resisted the impulse to declare Serena Williams the greatest female tennis player of all time.
While admitting my generational bias in favor of Martina Navratilova, I’ve also wanted to refrain from the in-the-moment rush to make such a pronouncement, if only to myself.
The emotional sweep of watching history as it happens overtakes almost all sports fans, and just about every sports journalist. We root for greatness, for a lifetime body of work that stands above the competition.