Cover image for What a time it was : the best of W.C. Heinz on sports
What a time it was : the best of W.C. Heinz on sports
Heinz, W. C. (Wilfred Charles), 1915-2008.
First Da Capo Press edition.
Publication Information:
[San Francisco, Calif.?] : Da Capo Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
xvi, 303 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV707 .H45 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Many think that W. C. Heinz stands right alongside the legendary New York Times columnist Red Smith as the greatest sports writer of the 1940s and '50s. Paving the way for the New Journalism of Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, and Jimmy Breslin, Heinz was the first sports writer to make his living exclusively by writing for magazines. Whether describing mobbed-up boxers, crippled jockeys, lame horses, aspiring ballplayers, or driven football coaches, Heinz's finely etched, indelible portraits recall a sports era less influenced by money, image, and self-indulgence. He collaborated with Vince Lombardi on the book Run to Daylight, cowrote the novel M*A*S*H with Dr. H. Richard Hornberger under the pseudonym Richard Hooker, and wrote what Hemingway considered to be the "only good novel about a fighter I've ever read," The Professional. In this collection of Heinz's finest writing, we meet the immortal Red Grange; the injury-riddled, "purest baseball player" of his era, Pistol Pete Reiser; the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson; and the Brownsville Bum, Bummy Davis, in a story that Jimmy Breslin calls the "best magazine sports story of all time." Here is a long-overdue homage to a vastly underappreciated writer.

Author Notes

W. C. Heinz is the coauthor of Run to Daylight, the best-selling autobiography of Vince Lombardi, and MASH, the novel that later became a successful movie and TV series. Da Capo recently published an omnibus collection of his best sportswriting, What a Time It Was. W. C. Heinz lives in Vermont.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

In more than 60 years of writing for newspapers and magazines, Heinz has covered baseball, boxing, football, horse racing, and even bike races. But he has also written respected novels (The Professional), coauthored Vince Lombardi's Run to Daylight, and collaborated with H. Richard Hornberger to write the comic classic MASH under the joint pseudonym Richard Hooker. Drawing on both fiction and nonfiction written throughout his long and influential career, this new collection showcases his wide-ranging sports knowledge and enlightening narrative skill, whether the subject be the talented but accident-prone outfielder Pistol Pete Reiser or the original pound-for-pound fighting genius Sugar Ray Robinson. Heinz's anthology should be attractive to most public libraries and all sports collections. [Heinz had more entries than any other writer in the recent The Best American Sports Writing of the Century. Ed.] Morey Berger, St. Joseph's Hosp. Lib., Tucson, AZ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

David HalberstamJeff MacGregor
Forewordp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
"Brownsville Bum" and other Profiles
Brownsville Bum (True, 1951)p. 3
The Rocky Road of Pistol Pete (True, 1958)p. 17
The Ghost of the Gridiron (True, 1958)p. 33
Death of a Racehorse (New York Sun, 1949)p. 45
Vince Lombardi (Madison, 1995)p. 49
G.I. Lew (Argosy, 1952)p. 53
The Greatest, Pound for Pound (from Once They Heard the Cheers)p. 83
So Long, Jack (from Once They Heard the Cheers)p. 103
Stan Musial's Last Day (Life, 1963)p. 135
So Long, Rock (Sport, 1952)p. 145
The Shy One (from Once They Heard the Cheers)p. 153
Mash and other Fiction
The Red Riders of the Imjin (from MASH, 1968)p. 183
Nicholas Braff (from Emergency, 1974)p. 199
The Head and the Heart (Cosmopolitan, 1948)p. 215
One Throw (Collier's, 1950)p. 233
Man's Game (Collier's, 1949)p. 237
"Beer Drinker" and other Columns
Beer Drinker (New York Sun, 10/7/48)p. 253
A Different View of Football (New York Sun, 10/20/48)p. 257
That Was Hoot Mon's Year (New York Sun, 8/7/47)p. 261
Down Memory Lane with the Babe (New York Sun, 6/14/48)p. 265
Memories of a Great Jockey (New York Sun, 3/25/47)p. 269
Football's Muzzled Masses (New York Times, 9/10/89)p. 273
Six Days to Nowhere (New York Sun, 11/17/48)p. 277
Why Can't TV Encourage Class Instead of Crass? (TV Guide, 11/7/87)p. 281
It Was Like a Light Bulb Busted in Your Brain (TV Guide, 11/19/88)p. 285
Quick, Thomas, a Brick! (TV Guide, 8/21/76)p. 289
A Tale of Two Pitchers (New York Sun, 4/6/49)p. 295
Excerpt from Transition (from Once They Heard the Cheers)p. 299