Flashing Before My Eyes: 50 Years of Headlines, Deadlines & Punchlines

Flashing Before My Eyes: 50 Years of Headlines, Deadlines & Punchlines

by Dick Schaap

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380820153
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/30/2001
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Dick Schaap is the author of more than thirty books, including the New York Times bestsellers Instant Replay (with Jerry Kramer) and Bo Knows Bo (with Bo Jackson). Host of ESPN's The Sports Reporters and ESPN Classic's One on One and theater critic for ABC's World News Now, he has won six Emmy Awards. He is the only man who votes for both the Heisman Trophy and the Tony Awards.

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Let's be honest. Pretty much everyone's favorite subject these days is themselves. Rap songs celebrate the rappers who rap them. Athletes refer to themselves in the third person. Radio hosts declare, "This is my show," and callers begin by saying, "I think. . ." The Internet is rife with sites dedicated to their creators (www.MyHomePage.com). Therapists' offices are filled with patients prattling about their "issues." Bookshelves are stuffed with bestseller after bestseller, all about your favorite home improvement subject: yourself.

And then there's Dick Schaap, who has walked with kings, ridden shotgun with legends, dined with the power elite, and gotten drunk with some of the biggest sports stars of our time. And what he comes away with is not a swelled head, an inflated sense of his own importance, or a need to lecture the world with an opinion much richer than ours.

What he comes away with is stories.

People stories. Dick Schaap collects people stories the way nets collect fish. According to the Jewish religion — Dick's religion — once a year, God opens the Book of Life, and in that book is every person on earth, everything they have said, everything they have done.

Does God really have a Book of Life? I have no idea. I do know this: If He ever misplaces it, He'll come to Schaap and ask to borrow his.

I thought I knew a lot of people. That was before I met Dick Schaap. Compared with Dick, the rest of us might as well live in caves. Dick not only knows, intimately, Muhammad Ali, Joe Namath, Jimmy Breslin, Yogi Berra, Herb Gardner—I'm stopping at five, because I don't have room forfive thousand—but he also knows your mother, your second-grade teacher, your agent, your congressman, and your priest. And if he doesn't, he knows someone who does. Or he went to the World Series with that guy's cousin.

Dick, I firmly believe, knows the world. The reason is simple: He doesn't just meet people; he absorbs them. He is like those Japanese businessmen who are always asking for your card, then slipping it into their front pockets. Dick does his own version of that, only without the cards, and with no need for the front pocket. The people he meets go straight through to his heart. "How do you do it?" I asked him not long ago on the set of The Sports Reporters, the ESPN TV show we do together on Sunday mornings. "How do you keep everybody straight?"

"It's not that big a deal," he answered with characteristic modesty.

"Everybody has one thing they can remember well. Some people remember every Broadway show. Some people remember every Super Bowl. I just happen to remember people."

And Wilt Chamberlain happened to like women.

Now, as a journalist, I can attribute Dick's talent to a quality that is increasingly rare in our business: an ability to listen. Unlike many reporters, who are writing the story before the subject opens his or her mouth, Dick is legitimately fascinated by what people have to say. He is willing to float downstream on their interpretations and confessions. He also knows that being there, the fly on the wall, the eyes in the rearview mirror, is what turns reportage into storytelling.

And so, over the years, Dick has put himself in position to witness wonderfully memorable moments, like the time he took a young Cassius Clay to Harlem to meet Sugar Ray Robinson, or the time he took Lenny Bruce to his first baseball game, or the time he brought the actor Peter Falk along with him to interview drug addicts, and one of the addicts asked the future "Columbo" if he would be his lawyer.

It is because of experiences like that, that those of us who know Dick have been pressing him for years to write this book, his book, his story, which, Dick being Dick, is the story of so many others. To be with Dick is to be with a buzzing hive of voices, a cast of thousands. In a single commercial break of The Sports Reporters, he'll tell several stories that are more interesting than anything you'll hear all month. His cross-referencing would put Microsoft Access to shame. You can say to Dick, "Pass the ketchup," and he will reply, "Did I ever tell you about Bobby 'Catch-up'Johnson, the one-legged soccer player I met in Belgium?"

Dick doesn't forget. (Honest to goodness, there is a reference in this book to the fact that during Dick's visit to the island of Ibiza in 1967, Clifford Irving, the novelist, "had one of the few working toilets on the island." Who remembers stuff like that?) But because of that, this book is rich in anecdotes, and there is not a page that doesn't make you wish you were there with Dick, walking alongside Joe DiMaggio; meeting deadlines for Newsweek; sharing a house with Chuck Barris, creator of The Gong Show; talking baseball with Jackie Robinson; traveling with Richard Nixon during the 1968 campaign; or sipping drinks at a party in Norman Mailer's house. And yet it would be unfair to characterize Dick as a gadfly, a party lover, or even a collaborator with the rich and famous (although, with thirty-four books to his credit, he has done more duets than Willie Nelson and Celine Dion combined). What he downplays, and what too many ESPN watchers forget, is that Dick is first and foremost a reporter, a damn fine one, and a wonderful writer to boot.

So, in a twist, the Cracker Jack in this box turns out to be the famous athletes, the well-known actors, the bloated politicians, and the recognizable newsmakers, while the hidden prize is the unveiling of Dick himself, how he came to be a writer, how his Brooklyn and Long Island childhood forged so much of his later life, how his college experiences transformed him, how he wrote books about the drug culture and about Robert Kennedy, how he made mistakes along the way, lost some dear friends to tragedy, and even encountered a few people whom be didn't like.

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Flashing Before My Eyes: 50 Years of Headlines, Deadlines & Punchlines 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
pw0327 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I was kind of put off by the two negative reviews from this site, then I decided to read the book anyways just because I have been a fan of Dick Schaap's for a long time. I must say that the personal stories of his failed marriages was kind of off putting, but he seems to be poking fun at himself more than anything else. The book itself is incredible. This guy knew everybody. He was able to befriend just about everyone out there, whether they are in politics, sports, or anything else that matters. The stories are great, and the view points hilarious. Anyone can find fault in what anyone says. I find that the two reviewers who gave this book a negative review seems to be looking for something to pick on. The faults that they ascribe to the author may be valid, but they are also nitpicking. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has some time and want to read about a fascinating life spent conversing with some of the more interesting people in our society. So what if Schaap gloats a little or lamentsa his many marriages, he's entitled.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What I didn't know about sports I do now. Really, really loved the book. Easy and fun and informative.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From 'Instant Replay,' the inside story of the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers, to the Olympics, Bo Jackson, or even the 'Son of Sam,' Dick Schaap has been telling stories to a grateful nation for over 40 years. Now comes perhaps the best story. It's about Dick Schaap, but he shares his odyssey, complete with it's joys and tears, in a way no one else can. If you're a sports fan, you'll love this book. If you're a Dick Schaap fan, you'll love this book. Even if you're not a sports fan, you'll still love this book. Buy this book! Tip O'Neill once said, 'Everyone loves a good story, especially if it has the added value of being true.' Schaap's story rings true, to the subject matter and to the reader, and for that I'm very grateful. You will be too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There's a reason that Dick Schaap is the pre-eminent journalist of our time... His ability to put a human face on the over-commercialized, highly saturated world of sport is unparalleled. His favorite sport? That's easy, it's people! This book is chock full of stories with an honest, tangible, visceral feel that really makes you feel like you were there. And as usual, his words sound good, make sense, and engender genuine emotion. Dick Schaap has golfed with presidents, dined with dignitaries, and even played cards with Wilt Chamberlain. He won of course, but that's because Dick Schaap is a winner in the game of life. His uncanny ability to find the brightest, most interesting aspects of the people he's dealt with, and share his encounters in ancedotal fashion, kept me glued to this book. Someone once said that, 'He who toots his own horn, plays to an empty house.' Ironically after 34 books, Dick Schaap has now written a book, about Dick Schaap. But the music he makes is a far cry from any self-aggrandizing promotion. In fact it takes you up close and personal, very personal, highlighting the people that our pop culture has admired for the last 50 years. And, although he deflects the attention, Dick Schaap exudes a greatness equal to or greater than, nearly every luminary he meets.