The Poet: The Life and Los Angeles Times of Jim Murray

The Poet: The Life and Los Angeles Times of Jim Murray

by Steven Travers


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Forget Ring Lardner, Grantland Rice, and Jerome Holtzman. Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times was the single greatest sports columnist who ever lived—period. Known for his highly descriptive metaphors and phrasing—e.g., “a strike zone the size of Hitler’s heart”—Murray was a poet. Time magazine sent the Connecticut native to Hollywood in 1948 to cover the movies. But it was at the Los Angeles Times (1961–1998) that Murray made his mark. The paper had experienced tremendous growth, and Murray had free rein to cover virtually any topic in his sports column. He defended pitcher Don Drysdale against accusations of poor sportsmanship, waxed rhapsodic about Willie Mays, and praised light-heavyweight champion Archie Moore as “the Rembrandt of boxing.” But Murray’s influence was greatest when he spoke out against segregated college football in the South. After being subjected to several of Murray’s public scoldings, the University of Alabama finally allowed Bear Bryant to erase the school’s long-standing color line. Steven Travers provides an in-depth look at a man whose influence went far beyond the baseball diamond and the boxing ring.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597978545
Publisher: Potomac Books
Publication date: 02/28/2013
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

STEVEN TRAVERS, a University of Southern California graduate and former professional baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Oakland A’s, is the author of twenty books, including the bestselling Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman (Sports Publishing, 2002), nominated for a Casey Award as Best Baseball Book of 2002; and One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game that Changed a Nation (Taylor Trade, 2007). A former prep sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, he lives in California and has one daughter, Elizabeth.

Table of Contents

Foreword Linda McCoy-Murray vii

Acknowledgments ix

1 A Depression Kid 1

2 "Beyond the Darkness, the West" 11

3 Noir and Marriage 13

4 Show Biz Is Not a Business 19

5 Murray, Nixon, and Checkers 25

6 Sports Illustrated 29

7 The Times, They Are a-Changin' 31

8 Decade of Change 37

9 The Column 57

10 Civil War 73

11 Halcyon Days 91

12 Visionaries 117

13 The Poet of Brentwood 129

14 Love, Tragedy, Redemption 163

15 The Great Scribe in His Twilight Years 181

16 Sic Transit Gloria 211

Appendix A One-on-One with Bill Dwyre 217

Appendix B Famous Last Words 227

Appendix C "If You're Expecting One-Liners, Wait, a Column" 245

Appendix D Jim Murray's Career 249

Bibliography 251

Index 259

About the Author 269

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