Sports-writing from the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties: 40 articles ranging in length from two to two-dozen pages, with a few literary efforts among the predominating, straight-ahead ""deadline pieces."" In the longer, more pretentious category, there's Norman Mailer on Muhammad Ali (""Ego"") and Tom Wolfe on stock-car racing (from The Kandy-Kolored, etc.)--both awfully dated in style. Golf gets a surprisingly large share of the space, from Herbert Warren Wind's elegantly spare New Yorker essay (""Mr. Trevino and Mr. Nicklaus"") to lesser entries on Ben Hogan, Tom Watson, and Bobby Jones. Tennis gets virtually no coverage whatsoever--except for a whimsical/personal Wimbledon anecdote from Thomas Boswell. (Where is John McPhee?) Gay Talese and Budd Schulberg strain to find some deeper resonances in prizefighting. There are slight profiles of Jim Brown, Bear Bryant, Y. A. Tittle (Irwin Shaw), Ali again (Dick Schaap), Namath, Thurman Munson (a sentimental eulogy). And the bulk of the remainder is, naturally, baseball-oriented--with book excerpts (Roger Kahn, Harvey Frommer), Dave Anderson on George Steinbrenner (""I've always been a believer in letting people hang themselves with their own words""), and three bits of diehard Phillies fandom from James A. Michener. A pleasant, varied, often-sentimental assortment, with the plain, crisp focus on human-interest rather than play-by-play--but little here is in a class with the great sportswriting of decades past, from Ring Lardner to Red Smith.