Before the spoils of athletic success come the toils of practice, the pressures of competition, and that highly traumatic ""breaking in"" period when the performer must prove himself. This superior selection of excerpts from autobiographical writings examines that rough road. There's a touching story of Rube Marquard disobeying his father to break into baseball; another, fifty years later, of ""super-poor"" Spencer Haywood taking the basketball route to try to ameliorate his condition. Others either lacked or lost the desire which a professional athlete need possess -- pre-Hollywood Anthony Quinn quit the ring because he lacked killer instinct, whereas Dave Meggyesy abandoned a promising career when he began to question the values of football. If a homesick Mickey Mantle felt ""lost and woebegone"" after leaving for the minors, Jackie Robinson was tested even more by having to exhibit ""the guts not to fight back."" Still others had to make comebacks whether due to injury or newfound celebrity -- Boston Bruin Teddy Green had difficulty returning to the rink following a nearfatal skull fracture. . . while swimmer Don Schollander confides the ""pressures and confusion"" of being an Olympic champion at the age of eighteen. A commendable introduction to the universal pains of breaking in.