When I was growing, up I don’t remember a weekday evening when my dad didn’t come with the newspaper, usually a tabloid, but always folded to the sports columns. Some call the 1950’s and 60’s the Golden Age of Sports Writing, a time when sports columns were brimming with human interest, biography, and style. Sports reporting was a very different animal back then, appearing not as it does today in sound bites, talk radio, cable sports, and blogs, but mostly in print. Celebrity and scandal were far less important than human profiles, local color, and detail. My father was a workingman and in the sports columns of the time, he found stories about other working men, great athletes, yes, but guys whose issues he could relate to.
One of the best, if not the best-known, of the Golden Age sportswriters was W.C. Heinz. He wrote for the New York Sun and popular magazines of his day but also wrote books, including the classic Run to Daylight! about Vince Lombardi and the novel upon which the movie and TV show M.A.S.H.
The Library of America has recently published The Top of His Game, an anthology of the best of Heinz’s sports writing, and here to talk with me today is the book’s editor, Bill Littlefield, host of NPR’s weekly sports magazine, Only a Game, as well as the author of seven books.
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