Gods at Play: An Eyewitness Account of Great Moments in American Sports

Tom Callahan. Norton, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-324-00427-1
Sportswriter Callahan recalls the most memorable moments from his career with grace and humanity in this resonant memoir. Callahan’s career began in 1966 in the Baltimore Evening Sun’s newsroom, followed by stints at papers in San Diego, Calif.; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Washington, D.C., before a tenure at Time magazine. Rather than focus on individual games, Callahan homes in on anecdotes that reveal the inner lives of the men and women who played them. For example, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar explains how, ashamed of his height in his youth, he looked to the Empire State Building as a positive role model; Muhammad Ali told Callahan, “My destiny is at stake,” in an intimate moonlit conversation about an upcoming fight with George Foreman; and baseball great Pete Rose shared that his white teammates disdained him, (“they called him a hotdog for trying to do things he couldn’t”) while his Black teammates “treated me like a human being.” Callahan’s seamless mixture of tales from his own career and wisdom gleaned from the athletes he covered makes for a strong offering all-around. The book works as both a paean to sportswriting’s glory days and a lyrical reminder that athletes have rich lives away from the stadium lights. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 09/22/2020
Release date: 09/22/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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