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How Life Imitates Sports: A Sportswriter Recounts, Relives, and Reckons with 50 Years on the Sports Beat

How Life Imitates Sports: A Sportswriter Recounts, Relives, and Reckons with 50 Years on the Sports Beat

by Ira Berkow


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Memorable Stories From a Half Century of Sports Journalism

For the last half century, Pulitzer Prize–winning sportswriter Ira Berkow has been at the center of some of the most memorable moments in sports history. From the World Series, NBA Finals, and Super Bowl, to Heavyweight Title Fights, the Olympics, and The Masters, he has seen and covered them all. After fifty years covering sports, with more than twenty-five as a journalist for the New York Times, How Life Imitates Sports shares how these events—and their participants—have significantly shaped how we as a nation have come to understand and perceive our culture (and even our politics). They are a historical record of one significant sphere of our life and times: sports.

From Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan to LeBron James, Jackie Robinson to Derek Jeter, Billie Jean King to Tonya Harding, O. J. Simpson to Tiger Woods and beyond, this collection is a historical record of our times over this past half century, in terms of society, race and gender, politics, legal issues, and the fabric of our sports passions and human condition, ranging from pathos to humor, from introspection to perception.

Including additional commentary on when these events first occurred and how they have impacted us today, Berkow shares the knowledge of someone who sat ringside, in the press box, and on the sidelines for some of the most notable moments in our history. So whether you’re a fan of baseball and basketball, or tennis and soccer, How Life Imitates Sports shows you our history from someone who witnessed it first-hand; a worthy collection for anyone who appreciates the highest quality sports journalism.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683583790
Publisher: Sports Publishing LLC
Publication date: 08/04/2020
Pages: 424
Sales rank: 1,162,704
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Ira Berkow is both a Pulitzer-prize winner for national reporting and a Pulitzer-prize finalist for distinguished commentary, and the author of twenty-six books, including the bestsellers Red: A Biography of Red Smith, Maxwell Street: Survival in a Bazaar, and Rockin’ Steady: A Guide to Basketball and Cool (with Walt Frazier), as well as nine anthologies of his journalism. A sports reporter and columnist for the New York Times for over two decades, his work has regularly been reprinted in literary anthologies, college rhetoric textbooks, in the prestigious annual anthology Best American Sports Writing, as well as The Best American Sports Writing of the Century. He resides in New York City.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Part I One of a Kind-Every One of Them 1

They Changed the Game 1

Jackie Robinson: He Led the Way 1

Biilie Jean King, Bobby Riggs and Chris Evert: The Unexpected 11

Nadia Comaneci: Gold-Medal Gymnast, Worldwide Heartthrob, Courageous Defector 21

Roger Bannister: The Impossible Becomes Possible 31

"Broadway Joe" and the Greatest Super Bowl Upset 34

The Top of Their Game 38

Muhammad Ali: The Ageless Champ 38

Michael Jordan: First in Flight 52

Jack Nicklaus: The Golden Bear Extraordinaire 65

Red Grange: One Remarkable Galloping Ghost 76

A Trio of Nearly Unbeatable Record Holders 81

The Night Chamberlain Scored 100 82

Ted Williams: The Slugging Professor 89

Gale Sayers: "Brian's Song Reprise" 93

Young, and Stardom Awaits 97

LeBron James: At 16, and Leaves No Doubt 97

Sidney Crosby: The Next One Is Here 100

The Americanization of Martina 104

Tiger Woods: A History Lesson from Joe Louis 107

So Many Hits, So Much Time for Jeter 110

A Historic Sullivan High School Baseball Game 113

Older, but Few Better 117

Bill Shoemaker: One Great Jockey 117

Citation: Still a Ladies' Man 126

Smarty Jones: Belmont Disappointment Hasn't Slowed the Mail 129

Gordie Howe: "Mr. Hockey" and a Puckful of Offshoots 132

Al Oerter: The Discus Spans the Ages 140

Archie Moore: The Secrets of the Mongoose 142

The LaMotta Nuptials 146

A Most Unlikely Duo: Bear Bryant and Ann Landers 149

Nolan Ryan on Satchei Paige's "Social Ramble" 152

Tom Seaver: From the Hill to the Hall 155

Moe Berg: "The Catcher Was Highly Mysterious" 161

Hank Greenberg: A Kind of Beacon 164

Playing Pickup with Oscar 167

When Ruby Missed the Final Four 176

Smooth, but Not Slick 178

The Changing Faces of Arthur Ashe 179

Roger Federer and "The Shot" 192

The Fluid Style of Rod Carew: In Total Control at Bat 195

Koufax Is No Garbo 203

That Quiet Moment for Larry Bird 207

Clyde's "Ultimate Cool" 210

Cheering for Soccer While the Toast Burns 213

Part II Heroes Behind Bars 217

O. J. Simpson: The Former "Lifesaver of the Month" 217

After Three Years in Prison, Mike Tyson Gains His Freedom 229

The Flowering and Wilting of Pete Rose 235

Part III In Troubled Waters 245

Tonya Harding: Did She or Didn't She? 245

Katarina Witt: Firepower Off the Ice 259

Bob Knight: Degrees of Separation for Coach and Indiana 265

The Darkest Blot 268

The Edwin Moses Case 271

Jerry Smith: "The Courage of the Gentle" 275

Dilemma on the Slopes 279

Part IV The Munich Olympics 283

Triumph and Tragedy 283

Olympic Disaster: Out of Beauty, Horror 292

Mark Spitz, After the Glory 295

Part V The Furor, the Fuhrer, and Beyond 299

As the World Watches 299

Aryan and Owens: Back to Berlin 300

Marty Glickman: The Return of the Old Sprinter 303

An Olympic Swimmer Remembers the Fuhrer 305

John Carlos: "All Because I Stuck My Fist in the Air" 307

Wilma Rudolph: Forever the Regal Champion 309

Abel Kiviat: "America's Oldest Olympic Medal-Winner" 312

It's a Long Way Home 316

The Marathon's Other Side 316

Kathy Switzer, Marathon Pioneer, and the Knife 318

Part VI Wrien the Rubber Hits the Road 323

The Strange Vocabulary of Johnny Rutherford 323

De Ferran Keeps His Cool in the Heat of Competition 326

Taking a Detour from the Indy 500 329

"King" Richard Petty: Dealing with Defeat Away from NASCAR 332

Part VII Behind the Curtain-Four Unlikely Sports Executives 335

Donald Trump's Forays into Sports 335

Bart Giamatti: From Dante to Darling 351

Jerry Krause: The Man Who Built Jordan's Bulls 355

The Man Who Missed George Steinbrenner 362

Part VIII How the Weather Was 365

On the Whole, He'd Rather Be in May 365

Rain Check 367

On Sports in October 369

The Pigeon Race 372

Credits 375

Acknowledgments 377

About the Author 379

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