Cover image for The best American sports writing 2004
The best American sports writing 2004
Stout, Glenn, 1958-
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, [2004]

Physical Description:
xxiii, 300 pages ; 21 cm
Introduction by Richard Ben Cramer -- Dusting off home / Joe Posnanski -- Lifelike / Susan Orlean -- The race of truth / Steve Friedman -- Swimming to Antarctica / Lynne Cox -- Beauty in the beast /Robert Draper -- The secret life of Mia Hamm / Gary Smith -- Growing up Mantle / Paul Solotaroff -- Home and away / Peter Hessler -- All the king's men: why the team that Jordan built fell to pieces / Michael Leahy -- The leap of his life / Peter de Jonge -- Making a play for players / Lisa Olson -- Friday night lite / Carlton Stowers -- Black Sunday / Charles P. Pierce -- A runaway win Cubs fans won't appreciate / Greg Couch -- Misery has more company / Bob Ryan -- An unconventional tradition of success / Ira Berkow -- Trying to find yourself in the toughest times / Mitch Albom -- A long strange trip / Stephen Rodrick -- Fishing the mainstream / Tommy Craggs -- Getting slammed / Guy Martin -- "No, not again!" / William Nack -- Galarraga steals base, stops time / Joan Ryan -- Playing against the clock / Rick Telander -- The fright stuff / Any Meisler -- Running for his life / Michael Hall -- At ease, at last / Bill Plaschke -- Biographical notes -- Notable sports writing of 2003.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS509.S65 B47 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



"On any given day, sports will offer us stories -- the most human stories -- in richer supply, and more reliably, than any other branch of endeavor . . . When someone does write how it was, or how it is, it thrills us with the same exultation that we feel when a fellow being excels on the field, the court, the course, or the track . . . I don't think it's stretching things to say that the writers in this book show, in their field, the same sort of hyper-acuity thatathletic heroes show in their games." -- from the introduction by Richard Ben Cramer

Not just for readers of the sports pages, these selections bring together the finest writing on sports from the past year. Richard Ben Cramer assembles a fascinating look at the sporting world, showcasing the triumphs and heartaches of human endeavor and covering all aspects of sport.
Lynne Cox chronicles her extraordinary swim in the Arctic Ocean. Gary Smith provides rare insight into the complexities of Mia Hamm. Michael Leahy details the final days of the Michael Jordan Wizards. Susan Orlean takes the definition of sport in a different direction with an insider's look at the World Taxidermy Championships. Greg Couch and Lisa Olson both offer a glimpse of sports' underbelly as a professional baseball team scalps its own tickets and as women single-mindedly pursue million-dollar athletes. Carlton Stowers follows a six-man high school football team as they strive for success, and Michael Hall chronicles a man's escape from death and his journey of renewal through running.
With Cramer at the helm, this year's selections embrace the world of sports in all its drama, humanity, and excitement.

Author Notes

GLENN STOUT is the author of Young Woman and the Sea and Fenway 1912 .

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This series, which began in 1991, continues to provide insight into the art of sports writing. In this installment, editor Cramer, the author of Joe DiMaggio0 (2000), 0 selects pieces from such publications as Sports Illustrated, Texas Monthly, GQ0 , and Men's Journal 0 as well as numerous major newspapers. Among the most recognizable authors are Mitch Albom, Ira Berkow, and Bob Ryan. The subject matter is as diverse as the sources. There are profiles of soccer star Mia Hamm and Chinese basketball icon Yao Ming; insightful commentary on Michael Jordan's tumultuous last days as a player with the Washington Wizards; and a fascinating report on six-man high-school football in the rural Texas town of Penelope. Among the most memorable selections is Rick Telander's poignant comparison of his own athletic career to those of his children and Gary Smith's very sensitive profile of Hamm, in which we come to understand that fame is no barrier to heartbreak. An ongoing centerpiece for all sports collections. --Wes Lukowsky Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This entertaining 14th installment in the annual series is as varied as its predecessors: the usual suspects (baseball, football, basketball) share space with less popular pursuits (fishing, running, bicycling) and downright peculiar ones (taxidermy). Yet most of the pieces share a particular focus. As in past editions, the editors look beyond actual sport-the games, the scores, the strategies-and instead home in on the personalities: athletes and their families, fans, coaches and, in one memorable column, groupies. "It makes good sense to me that how a person is-the conditions of his or her larger life-explains, or at least illuminates, how that person plays and competes," says Cramer (How Israel Lost; Joe DiMaggio; etc.) in his introduction. Standout entries include Steve Friedman's masterful "The Race of Truth," about an obsessive Scot's pursuit of cycling's little-known grail, the Hour Record; Michael Leahy's refreshingly honest portrait of Michael Jordan's last days with the Wizards; and three frank, gripping and completely distinct accounts of athletes (two of whom are lesser-known) and their families: Paul Solotaroff's "Growing Up Mantle," Peter De Jonge's "The Leap of His Life" and Rick Telander's "Playing Against the Clock." Though some of the shorter columns suffer in comparison to the weightier magazine pieces, this edition is reliably compelling and surprisingly addictive, much like sport itself. (Oct. 14) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



IntroductionAt last, in my mid-fties, I have the answer to a question I used to mull as a boy: what is the one thing I would need to abide on a desert island? I thought about this not well but often, and with a calisthenic seriousness - part of my program for misspending my youth. I dont mean this was obsessive - lets be clear about that - it was just a game.See, you had to imagine how you would get to the island with the one thing - how, for instance, you would swim ashore with dry matches when your whole ship was scuttled in the watery deep... though magic was permitted: it could be an endless supply of dry matches. The problem was, if you went for something useful, like re, then you had an endless supply of boredom - and a future in an asylum should you be rescued. So sometimes Id struggle ashore with the corpus of Roman literature (magically restored in its complete variety), which guaranteed my sanity and a post-rescue future as the worlds unchallenged Latin savant. Then again, I couldnt boil water...So too often, alas, Id have to cheat: the real question was the two things youd need... At that point Id have to start over of course - to reimagine how Id swim ashore with the matches and all of Roman literature. (No! Even better! I swim with the matches, see, but the island used to be a Roman island - the literature is squirreled away there. They sent out the emperors whole library when the Visigoths were beating at the gates!)Okay, maybe it was a tad obsessive.But that doesnt matter now. Now I have the answer. One great thing - and our island a paradise!... It is the satellite dish with the sports-pack subscription. I know, I know - theres a little problem about the electricity. If you must get technical, theres a shortage of desert islands these days, too. But its the why, not the wherewithal, I mean to discuss here.After all, whats the one thing needful at our new beach place once weve mastered, you know, the beginners stuff: shelter, re, desalination, and the ner points of cuisine (the coconut goulash, the coconut souf). What we need is a sure and ample connection to our fellow beings, to the human condition, to the drama (could I say meaning?) of life.I dont mean to rewrite Genesis - to suggest that God worked for six days so Detroiters could root on the Red Wings. (Though its tempting: how else to explain the peculiarly hurlable physiognomy of the octopus?) And I wont sell the snake oil that sports is life - or the best part of life, or life writ small, or life lived large, or life as it should be (if life had rules). Forget that hooey. Its only sports.But I do contend that, on any given day, sports will offer us stories - the most human stories - in richer supply, and more reliably, than any other branch of endeavor. Stories are how we understand our lives. And if you break down the elements in stories from the sporting life, it reads like the to-do list from a screenwriting seminar. In sports we hav Excerpted from The Best American Sports Writing 2004 All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Richard Ben CramerJoe PosnanskiSusan OrleanSteve FriedmanLynne CoxRobert DraperGary SmithPaul SolotaroffPeter HesslerMichael LeahyPeter De JongeLisa OlsonCarlton StowersCharles P. PierceGreg CouchBob RyanIra BerkowMitch AlbomStephen RodrickTommy CraggsGuy MartinWilliam NackJoan RyanRick TelanderAndy MeislerMichael HallBill Plaschke
Forewordp. xi
Introductionp. xix
Dusting Off Home: from The Kansas City Starp. 1
Lifelike: from The New Yorkerp. 12
The Race of Truth: from Bicyclingp. 21
Swimming to Antarctica: from The New Yorkerp. 37
Beauty in the Beast: from GQp. 54
The Secret Life of Mia Hamm: from Sports Illustratedp. 62
Growing Up Mantle: from Men's Journalp. 86
Home and Away: from The New Yorkerp. 98
All the King's Men: Why the Team That Jordan Built Fell to Pieces: from The Washington Post Magazinep. 119
The Leap of His Life: from The New York Times Magazinep. 142
Making a Play for Players: from The New York Daily Newsp. 162
Friday Night Lite: from The Dallas Observerp. 167
Black Sunday: from Sports Illustratedp. 178
A Runaway Win Cubs Fans Won't Appreciate: from The Chicago Sun-Timesp. 186
Misery Has More Company: from The Boston Globep. 190
An Unconventional Tradition of Success: from The New York Timesp. 193
Trying to Find Yourself in the Toughest Times: from The Detroit Free Pressp. 198
A Long Strange Trip: from Runner's Worldp. 201
Fishing the Mainstream: from SF Weeklyp. 214
Getting Slammed: from Field & Streamp. 227
"No, Not Again!" from ESPN.comp. 234
Galarraga Steals Base, Stops Time: from The San Francisco Chroniclep. 240
Playing Against the Clock: from Sports Illustratedp. 243
The Fright Stuff: from The Los Angeles Times Magazinep. 260
Running for His Life: from Texas Monthlyp. 272
At Ease, at Last: from The Los Angeles Timesp. 286
Biographical Notesp. 293
Notable Sports Writing of 2003p. 297