By David Halberstam. Ed. by Glenn Stout.
Full Text :COPYRIGHT 2008 American Library Association
Writing on sports, the late Halberstam brought his formidable reporter’s skills to his task–whether on Red Sox deity Ted Williams, sharpshooter Pete Maravich, brilliant but mercurial Allen Iverson, or itinerant slugger Reggie Smith, who are among the subjects of the four-dozen excellent pieces here. Unlike many sports journalists, Halberstam was never so invested in the games we play that he wouldn’t call out their significant failings. His essay “Sports Can Distract, but They Don’t Heal” makes the brutally honest point that the athletes a hometown supports are probably closer to the players those fans hate than they are to the fans themselves. Halberstam focuses on the three major sports–baseball, basketball, football–but there are also keen essays on sculling, fishing, boxing, and horse racing. Halberstam has a touch of the windbag, but that’s more than offset by the stories he shares: for example, the time a 15-year-old Reggie Smith told Willie Mays that he, Smith, was also a ballplayer, to which Mays only replied, “Do you know how to duck?”–Alan Moores
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