I love reading essays. There are few things better than kicking back with a small piece of great writing that can both educate and entertain you, yet you’re finished in just one sitting.
For many, many years, Sports Illustrated was the home of the best in sports essays. For many years, I was a faithful subscriber, and when an issue would arrive in the mailbox, I’d quickly turn to the long article (usually the last one in the issue) and get absorbed into a great story that, at the same time, usually taught me lessons about humanity as well. (Nowadays, I usually read essays online and check out the annual Best American Sports Writing paperback).
Needless to say, I devoured it. Multiple times, actually.
Recently, I came across this volume while cleaning and found myself engrossed in these essays once again. I read several, then decided to do a bit of research into something I read in one of them. I fired up Google, did a search, and discovered something interesting: the essay’s text was available for free online!
So I spent some time locating all of the essays included in the book and saving them for future reference on my computer. Then, I realized that there are a lot of Simple Dollar readers who might enjoy the same thing.
Thus, here are the fifty two essays included in Sports Illustrated’s Fifty Years of Great Writing, free for your own enjoyment. You might be surprised at some of the literary heavy hitters here – Steinbeck, Faulkner, DeLillo. Many of these are among the very best sportswriting I’ve ever read. I hope you get as much enjoyment out of these as I have.
The Boxer and the Blonde by Frank Deford
Yogi by Roy Blount Jr.
The Last Angry Men by Rick Telander
The Year, The Moment and Johnny Podres by Robert Creamer
Gifts That God Didn’t Give by John Papanek
All the Rage by Richard Hoffer
The Ring Leader by Frank Deford
Finally, We Were Left Alone, Just Me And My Bike by Thomas McGuane
A Personalized History Of Scottish Golf Or You’ll Not Do That Here, Laddie by Dan Jenkins
The Univesrity of Eighth Avenue and Part II by A. J. Liebling
Sons of the Wind by Kenny Moore
Road Swing by Steve Rushin
Mirror of My Mood by Bil Gilbert
Snakes Alive! by Jeff MacGregor
Pure Heart by William Nack
Grim Reapers of the Land’s Bounty by Jim Harrison
We Are Destroying Our National Parks by Wallace Stegner
“There Ain’t No Others Like Me” by Mark Kram
Master of the Joyful Illusion by William Barry Furlong
The Coach and His Champion by Alexander Wolff
“I Managed Good, But Boy Did They Play Bad” by Gilbert Rogin
Baseball’s Babbling Brook by Huston Horn
Playing for Laughs
Hype (Absolutely, Positively the Greatest Article Ever Written!) by Bruce Newman
‘Ring Tossed by Steve Rushin
We All Had a Ball by Roy Blount Jr.
The Curious Case of Sidd Finch by George Plimpton
Lake Wobegon Games by Garrison Keillor
Worst Baseball Team Ever by Jimmy Breslin
On the Winter Tour by Herbert Warren Wind
The Case Against Brian Spencer by Pete Dexter
Total Loss Weekend by Don DeLillo
This Is the Game of the Name by Franz Lidz
Crime and Punishment by Gary Smith
Broken Promise by S.L. Price
O Unlucky Man by William Nack
Music to the Ear
King of the Sports Page by Rick Reilly
Then My Arm Glassed Up by John Steinbeck
Heavyweight Championship Of The Word by Jeff MacGregor
Would You Let This Man Interview You? by Myron Cope
The Big Wind in Chicago by Ron Fimrite
Kentucky: May: Saturday by William Faulkner
Farewell, Teddy Ballgame by Leigh Montville
The Ripples From Little Lake Nellie by Gary Smith
The Best Years of His Life by John Ed Bradley
He’s Burning to Be a Success by John Underwood
Laughing on the Outside by John Schulian
The Best There Ever Was by Frank Deford