emphasize Century's End
With the countdown to 2000 well underway in all
quarters, publishers have also gotten into the act with all kinds of
products. And sports books focused on highlights of the 20th century are
Two of the best come from Total/Sports Illustrated publishers -
"20th Century Sports - Images of Greatness" by Mike Meserole
($26.95, 256pp) and "Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century" by
Tim Crothers and John Garrity ($19.95, 176pp). Both books are trade
paperbacks, and both books provide a feast for the eyes of any and all
"Twentieth Century Sports - Images of Greatness" is short
on words but long on visual images as we are taken through the decades
and given up close and striking looks at groundbreaking times in sports
Utilizing rare and evocative photographs from photo archives
including "Sports Illustrated," the book in Mike Meserole's
phrase "is a family album of the twentieth century, the great
extended family of sports."
We are there in the 1900s with some of baseball's top stars like
Christy Mathewson and Ty Cobb, and then taken through the 1930s with
Babe Ruth, Bobby Jones, Bill Tilden and "The Galloping Ghost"
The book then takes the reader through the 1950s with words and
images about college basketball, the developing NBA and the times of
Mantle, Mays and Aaron. The 1960s, a time of Mets, Packers and Celtics,
gives way to the 1970s "ugly uniforms and cookie-cutter
stadiums," while the 1980sgives us its peerless quarterbacks like
Elway, Marino and Montana.
And finally we go through the 1990s with Jordan, McGwire, Sosa,
Duncan, Jeter, etc. This is a book to keep and to savor. Carefully
organized and beautifully illustrated - it touches all the bases.
"Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century" is a book that
could spark some arguments, as the authors admit in the intro:
"Yes, we're smug, self righteous, wrongheaded dolts. We've made a
list of the 20th century's top athletes and left off Mark Spitz . . .
we've got five basketball players on the list and couldn't find room for
Oscar Robertson . . .."
Yes, there is a lot to argue about in terms of selection. But for
pure reading and looking, this is a book worth having. It is nostalgic,
incisive and celebratory.
The 180 photographs - most in full color - and the profiles of the 25
greatest athletes blend together for a terrific reading experience.
There are what the authors call the "Transcendent Three" -
Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth and the rest.
One of the special features of the book that makes for nice nostalgia
and also excellent reading are the flashback quotes from "Sports
Example: "Don Hutson was one of the legends we of a certain era
grew up with. Greatest team: Chicago bears. Greatest runner: Bronko
Nagurski. Greatest receiver: Don Hutson. You didn't question it....
---Paul Zimmerman, July 7, 1997
BOOKENDS: For hot stove reading if you missed it - "Long
Balls, No Strikes" by Joe Morgan with Richard Lally (Crown, $25.00,
304pp) is an outspoken and thoughtful look at where baseball is and
where it has to go.
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth
College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage
in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean.
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