Reading Dave Anderson is a reminder that big-time sports would be nowhere without sportswirters, give or take TV. Anderson grew up in Brooklyn as a baseball fan (not a Dodger fan) who wanted to be a baseball writer (not a player), and he's still awed at sharing a column in the New York Times with his childhood idol, Red Smith. Introducing himself or bridging the columns collected here, he talks mostly about people--the athletes he likes to watch and talk to (that's why ""I don't write much about horse racing""); and often they're players who haven't gotten the recognition he feels they deserve (Pancho Gonzales keeping the pro tour alive in Albuquerque, Henry Aaron hitting his 713th homer before empty stands in Atlanta) or who don't deserve the reputations they've gotten--like Joe Namath: ""No false modesty. . . . No boasting either; just flat confidence."" As a New York kid, he has no allegiance to college football (""When the Giants won the 1956 N.F.L. title,"" they became every New Yorker's college team); besides, he likes the pros became ""they keep playing,"" and he appreciates the continuity and the team concept. There are kudos here for the Miami Dolphins' slighted 1972 17-0 sweep--""something you'll never see again""--as well as for the much-celebrated Knicks. ""The Knicks were easy to talk to, easy to write about."" Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the challenge: Anderson arrived for a 1975 interview ""with a rare picture of him smiling."" The frank talk that resulted is reprinted here--a match for Anderson's affecting cameo of referee-at-last Roger McCann. In a bow to his family, the much-absent Anderson has them all watching the Billy Jean King-Bobby Riggs tennis match on television and his 15-year-old daughter saying, ""Daddy, you should be there."" But one thing he demonstrates is that the writer makes the story wherever he is.