Seven Scenes From The Life of A Quiet Champ

By Pete Dexter Inside Sports June, 1980 “I don’t ever want to fight Ali. Ali’s a legend, I’m hoping he retires. It would be a lot of money [for an Ali fight], but money isn’t everything. When Ali dies, people going to remember him being more than a fighter…”  ...

Dumb Broad at a Dumb Fight

By Shana Alexander Life June 4, 1965 Although until last week I had never personally attended a prize fight, I knew what I expected to see. The boxers’ glistening, circling bodies and the hoarse roar of the crowd had become familiar to me through years of exposure to...

Where Have You Gone, Mickey Mantle?

By Bruce Buschel Atlantic City Magazine April, 1984 You smell hot dogs and beer. You feel the anticipation. Men sport bright caps with fancy insignias. Women wear shiny team jackets two sizes too large. Kids struggle with long leather mitts. They hand over their...

Down and Out in the Minor Leagues

By J. Anthony Lukas Harper’s June 1968 “Ladies and gentlemen, we regret there will be no national anthem tonight,” the public address system announced to 159 ladies and gentlemen and about 9,841 empty seats in Knoxville’s Billy Meyer (pronounced Billa Maahr) Stadium...

I Was a Champion

By Floyd Patterson The American Weekly May 15, 1960 (as told to W.C. Heinz) For almost a whole year I’ve seen it day and night, maybe a thousand times. Me and Ingemar Johansson boxing and Johansson sticking out that left jab and me ducking under it, and then I’m down...

R.I.P. The Best American Sports Writing

By Kevin Koczwara The Stacks Reader February 2, 2020 The calm and quiet of upstate Vermont—past Burlington and Winooski, almost to the border of sleepy Canada, but before Montreal—is where Glenn Stout calls home. The world stops there. Or so it seems. The pace of life...

The Education of Jim Craig

By Pete Dexter Playboy February 1983 In the afternoon, the wind changes and the color of the water changes with it, darkens and takes a bigger bite. In the afternoon, it could be a different ocean. Above that, the moon and the gulls are floating, pale and timeless...

Controlling Force

By Tom Boswell Playboy August 1996 Greg Maddux, the best pitcher since Sandy Koufax, is warming up in the Atlanta Braves’ bullpen. Danny Bowden, 11, and Matt Korpi, 10, think they’ve gone to someplace better than heaven. They haven’t died. But they do have front-row...

The Making of “Fat City”

By Leonard Shecter Look October 19, 1971 The scene called for Billy Tully, played by Stacey Keach, to be thinning and weeding young tomatoes under a broiling sun. It’s sweaty, backbreaking working that must, because of the delicacy required, be done with a short,...

Farewell to a Gamer

By John Schulian The Stacks Reader 2019 Bill Buckner came to the big leagues as a headstrong kid who could outrun everything except self-doubt and hobbled out of the game under the longest shadow a simple ground ball ever cast. But it was between the poles of his...

E. Jean’s Hoop Dreams

By Alex Belth Esquire Classic 2016 This week marked the anniversary of Magic Johnson’s 1992 return to the NBA after having retired the previous fall, when he announced he was HIV positive. He turned in a triumphant, dramatic performance at the All-Star Game, scoring...

The Untouchable

By Fred Schruers 7 Days May 31, 1989 Rickey Henderson was staring at second base as if it offended his eye in some way. He was standing in the familiar elbows-back, chin-up pointer stance he assumes anytime his feet are treading base-path dirt, but this was inside the...