ESPN SPORTSCENTURY by Michael MacCambridge


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An illustrated showcase of the century’s foremost athletes, achievements, and issues in American sports. With the tasks and skills of a museum curator, MacCambridge (The Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated Magazine, 1997) has chosen those words and scenes that best capture the drama, glory, and cultural impact of 100 years— worth of major pro team sports (plus boxing, college football, and some golf, tennis, track and field, and auto racing). Large photos frame Ebbets Field in the World Series, Lew Alcindor reaching for a tip-off, the winning play in college football’s “Game of the Century,” and a tripped, airborne Bobby Orr celebrating his Stanley Cup—winning goal. Each of the ten decades features every sport’s champion, stars, stats, and highlights such as media coverage, rule changes, franchise, and stadium moves, and even uniform innovations. Sure, somebody will argue why Aaron, Starr, Gretsky, Petty, Sampras, or Woods only got as much coverage as Cosell—but historical effect rules. That’s why Chris Berman writes that Jackie Robinson “was a decade ahead of Rosa Parks.” If Marino only gets half a page, there are details like his “Lenox Hill derotation brace—designed for Namath.” The most significant voices and icons in sports get feature articles. The lineup of writers and decade-dominating superstars: Gerald Early on Jack Johnson; Nicholas Lemann on Jim Thorpe; Robert Creamer on Babe Ruth; Wilfrid Sheed on Joe Louis and Babe Didrikson; Roy Blount Jr. on Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams; Dick Schaap on Johnny Unitas; Tony Kornheiser on Bill Russell; Joyce Carol Oates on Muhammad Ali; Thomas Boswell on Pete Rose; and Nelson George on Michael Jordan. Numbers are important, so we get Wilt Chamberlain’s 20,000 sexual conquests, the 50 seconds left in the Heidi game, and a final page of 1—100 in sports associations. With hundreds of color photos enlivening the writing and graphics, this is the sports fan’s coffee table gift of the century. (TV and radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1999
ISBN: 0-7868-6471-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999


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