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Sports Guy : In Search of Corkball, Warroad Hockey, Hooters Golf, Tiger Woods, and the Big, Big Game
Here, at last, is Charles Pierce's best writing on sports, collected for the first time in one volume. All of these pieces, first published in GQ, the National, and Esquire, showcase Pierce's trademark humor. Some are spot-on profiles of famous sports personalities such as Tiger Woods, Magic Johnson, and Peyton Manning, while others are portraits of lesser-known figures such as Nebraska basketball coach Danny Nee, a former Vietnam vet who openly opposed the Gulf War, Cool Papa Bell, a ballplayer from the Negro Leagues who is ripped off by memorabilia hounds, and Mike Donald, an obscure golfer on the PGA tour who played the best golf in his life only to lose a tournament by one stroke. Pierce also takes us on unforgettable journeys into the wide world of sports, from a snake-charming pole-vaulter to life on the Hooters Golf Tour, from the fashion accessories of the modern ballplayer to how a small community--Warroad, Minnesota--bonds over ice hockey. Sports Guy will delight Pierce's devoted readers and is certain to win him many, many more.
A self-described "rummager and scuffler" among sportswriters, Charles Pierce displays his drive to illuminate the nooks and crannies of the American sporting life in this collection of 30 essays. "My own personal America," he writes, "comes with six seconds left, and the home teamAanybody's home teamAwith the ball and trailing by a point or a goal." Pierce admits to having little regard for the celebrity profiles he has included, because, for him, they pale alongside the tales in which context plays as vital a role as does the subject. He's right: essays on Tiger Woods and Shaquille O'Neal fall flat alongside the moving soliloquies and hearth-and-home portraits making up the rest of the book (his tale of the corkball leagues of St. Louis is particularly endearing). He avoids the two demons currently plaguing sports dialogue: sentimentality and the indictment of athletes as the sole agents of sedition in sport. Attending a game during Tiger Stadium's final season, Pierce notes that he has no attachment to aging concrete, despite hailing from Boston, "where ballparks... find themselves afflicted with talismanic characteristics, as though they were concrete Kennedys." Ten years after the Seoul Olympics, he wonders aloud how Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson's steroid use made him a villain, while Mark McGwire's made him a hero. One wonders, in fact, why these fluff pieces were included at all, since they tend to work at cross purposes with Pierce's thesis: "Big games are not about trophies and banners.... [M]emories are at stake, entire lifetimes of them." Pierce's finely detailed pieces should resonate with any sports fan who has watched in desperate agony as his team succumbs to inadequacy, and who knows the passionate optimism that springs when the season starts anew. (Jan.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Da Capo Press
December 25, 2000
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