The Best of Bacon: Select Cuts

The Best of Bacon: Select Cuts

by John U. Bacon


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From the Preface:
“I wrote these stories between 1992 and 2018. They cover a dozen different sports for a dozen different media outlets, from the Ann Arbor News to National Public Radio, and they stretch from a couple pages to a dozen. But they have one thing in common: they all meant a lot to me when I wrote them, and they still do today.”

The Best of Bacon presents both new and familiar stories by best-selling author John U. Bacon, all centered on sports in his home state of Michigan. Best known for his acclaimed books on college football, Bacon’s writing has been praised for going beyond traditional Xs and Os sports reporting. True to that reputation, this collection showcases personal, behind-the-scenes stories of players, coaches, and even fans. Many of these stories are connected to specific moments in time—a great season, the passing of a legendary broadcaster, or a star player’s daily grind before a big game—and will immediately transport readers to some of the highs (and lows) of their own sports memories. More often, Bacon’s writing explores timeless themes—why we love sports, how we pass that passion down to the next generation, and how it will be threatened or preserved in the future.

Michigan is one of the nation’s best sports states, home to countless amateur squads, two Big Ten schools, and professional teams in all four major sports whose histories reach back to the start of their leagues—something only New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois can also claim. This book covers the spectrum, from insider profiles of big names like Magic Johnson, Bo Schembechler, and Joe Louis, to cautionary tales of the debilitating greed threatening our favorite pastimes, to uplifting stories of the unsung heroes whose passion drives them to coach Little League baseball teams or run summer camps for peanuts. These stories speak to the value of sports, but also to our values. Whether a Spartan or a Wolverine, a long-suffering Lions’ backer or a diehard Wing-Nut, a lifetime sports fan or just someone who loves a good story, there is something here for everyone.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780472130818
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Publication date: 05/03/2018
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 786,390
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

John U. Bacon is the author of ten books, most recently John Saunders’ Playing Hurt: My Journey from Despair to Hope (which Bacon coauthored) and The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism, which extend his streak to six consecutive national best sellers. He teaches at at the University of Michigan. Visit his website for more information:

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Kid Stuff

A Father's Day Gift 3

Don't Try This At Home 5

How Coach Mack Changed My Life 7

The Almighty Cleavers 11

Hoops the Potawatomi Way 14

Our Unforgettable Assistant Coach 22

You Should Have Met Fennville's Wes Leonard 25

The Camp Director Puts Out the Candle 29

Confessions Of An Idiot

Paper Viper 35

Monster Bites Man at U.S. Open 42

Spinner Takes the Wheel 47

What Coaching Women Taught Me 54

A Crash Course in the Barwis School of Puke-itude 57

Pond of Dreams: Build It, and They Will Come 62


Joe Louis, the Gentle Giant 67

Remembering Mr. Hockey 75

Magic's Journey 78

Man vs. Machine 86

Jim Abbott's Biggest Challenge 99

Denard's Day 105


Bo's Back Where He Belongs 111

Tom Izzo: Iron Mountain Man 122

Carol Hutchins: The Biggest Winner on Campus 128

Harbaugh Comes Home 131

Red Berenson Did It All, with Honor 136


Halifax, Extraordinary Heroism, and Hockey 143

The True Story of "The Gipper" 151

The Big House After Hours 164

Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson 169

How President Hannah Made Michigan State 174

The Tigers' Love for Lakeland 177

The Voice of the Tigers 182

William Clay Ford: Misunderstood Man 186

Money and Madness

How Title IX Changed the Nation 195

The Un-collector 197

Ann Arbor News' Death Ruled Suicide 202

Eastern Michigan Football Still Not Worth the Cost 205

Travel Team Madness 208

How Michigan's Greed Alienated Fans 210

How to Fix College Sports 217

The Future

What I Want for My Son 227

Acknowledgments 231

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