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Over Time: My Life As a Sportswriter [Kindle Edition]

Frank Deford

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Review

Equal doses of self-deprecating humor and anecdotal history of American sports journalism are the essence of Frank Deford's entertaining new memoir. "Chicago Tribune" Deford is the Holy Grail. He's simply one of the greatest sportswriters of all time. ... ["Over Time"] has a little bit of everything -- great stories about interviewing everyone from Richard Nixon to Jerry Jones. Deford played with the Harlem Globetrotters, introduced the world to Bill Bradley, really disliked Rodney Dangerfield, edited the only national sports daily in our history ("The National"), and has great takes on the history and characters of "Sports Illustrated" in its formative years. . . . Deford's the best. Peter King, "SI.com" "Deford's cred is incredible, his accolades deserved... He does not pull a punch when it comes to boxing or even to the tastes-great, less-filling Miller Lite commercials he once made... [Deford] has long been the genuine article." "Los Angeles Times" He sketches insightful remembrances of stars like Wilt Chamberlain and Billie Jean King and lavishes affection and admiration on "Sports Illustrated" colleagues Andre Laguerre, Dan Jenkins, and the tortured writer Mark Kram [Deford is] sports writing's Sinatra. "San Francisco Chronicle" Endearing... "Over Time" imparts a sense of a life well lived and fully enjoyed. "The New York Times" "The mixture of homage to sportswriters who came before him, such as Grantland Rice; sometimes wistful vignettes of sports figures like Arthur Ashe; and his own personal reflections on the evolution of sports journalism combine to offer a cultural perspective that transcends a mere job." "Publishers Weekly" (Top 10 in Sports) Frank Deford is the best there is. His memoir "Over Time" is beautiful, funny, poignant and poetic. Buzz Bissinger, author of "Friday Night Lights" and "Father's Day" A wonderful book. "Over Time" is both a treasure and a treasury. Sally Jenkins, "Washington Post" columnist and "New York Times" bestselling author of "It s Not About the Bike" Frank Deford is the best sportswriter I ve ever read. If there s a Mount Rushmore of sportswriting, Deford is up there, purple ties and all. Tony Kornheiser Wonderful. [Deford is] the gold standard for modern sportswriting. Frank Murtaugh, "Memphis Flyer""

Product Description

Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter is as unconventional and wide-ranging as Frank Deford’s remarkable career, in which he has chronicled the heroes and the characters of just about every sport in nearly every medium. Deford joined Sports Illustrated in 1962, fresh, and fresh out of Princeton. In 1990, he was Editor-in-Chief of The National Sports Daily, one of the most ambitious—and ill-fated—projects in the history of American print journalism. But then, he’s endured: writing ten novels, winning an Emmy (not to mention being a fabled Lite Beer All-Star), and last week he read something like his fourteen-hundredth commentary on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

From the Mad Men-like days of SI in the ‘60s, and the “bush” years of the early NBA, to Deford’s visit to apartheid South Africa with Arthur Ashe, and his friend’s brave and tragic death, Over Time is packed with intriguing people and stories. Interwoven through his personal history, Deford lovingly traces the entire arc of American sportswriting from the lurid early days of the Police Gazette, through Grantland Rice and Red Smith and on up to ESPN. This is a wonderful, inspired book—equal parts funny and touching—a treasure for sports fans. Just like Frank Deford.


Praise for Over Time

“Equal doses of self-deprecating humor and anecdotal history of American sports journalism are the essence of Frank Deford's entertaining new memoir.”—Chicago Tribune

“Deford is the Holy Grail. He's simply one of the greatest sportswriters of all time. ... [Over Time] has a little bit of everything -- great stories about interviewing everyone from Richard Nixon … to Jerry Jones. … Deford played with the Harlem Globetrotters, introduced the world to Bill Bradley, really disliked Rodney Dangerfield, edited the only national sports daily in our history (The National), and has great takes on the history and characters of Sports Illustrated in its formative years. . . . Deford's the best.”—Peter King, SI.com

“He sketches insightful remembrances of stars like Wilt Chamberlain and Billie Jean King and lavishes affection and admiration on Sports Illustrated colleagues Andre Laguerre, Dan Jenkins, and the ‘tortured’ writer Mark Kram … [Deford is] sports writing's Sinatra.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Endearing... Over Time imparts a sense of a life well lived and fully enjoyed.”—New York Times

"The mixture of homage to sportswriters who came before him, such as Grantland Rice; sometimes wistful vignettes of sports figures like Arthur Ashe; and his own personal reflections on the evolution of sports journalism combine to offer a cultural perspective that transcends a mere job." —Publishers Weekly (Top 10 in Sports)

"Deford's cred is incredible, his accolades deserved... He does not pull a punch when it comes to boxing or even to the tastes-great, less-filling Miller Lite commercials he once made... [Deford] has long been the genuine article." —Los Angeles Times

“A cool ride through Deford’s career.”— Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Frank Deford is the best there is. His memoir Over Time is beautiful, funny, poignant and poetic.” —Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights and Father's Day

“A wonderful book. Over Time is both a treasure and a treasury.”—Sally Jenkins, Washington Post columnist and New York Times bestselling author of It’s Not About the Bike

“Frank Deford is the best sportswriter I’ve ever read. If there’s a Mount Rushmore of sportswriting, Deford is up there, purple ties and all.”—Tony Kornheiser

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4446 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (May 1 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007V5AWXC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #412,375 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  126 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deford remains America's best sportswriter May 14 2012
By K. Swanson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Frank Deford may have taught me to write. As a kid I read every SI from about 1970-1982 cover to cover, and his were invariably the funniest and most enjoyable pieces (Dan Jenkins was the other highlight). Looking at my style now, it sure resembles Frank's then. If not nearly as fine. And he's still going strong, as this memoir attests.

Like his sports articles it's breezy and conversational, yet also surprisingly literate and intelligent. The man gets to the core of a person or issue mighty quick, and his unerring eye for quality and truth is a thing of much beauty. DeFord (you coulda been a name contender, Frank!) is also a people person, as they say, and his understanding of what makes us tick as humans as well as athletes lends his words real depth of meaning beyond their athletic subjects. Few sportswriters, or really any writers, can do that consistently.

Along with endless funny and touching anecdotes here are a number of tributes to sportswriting/editing greats from years gone by who never got their due from the general reading public. FD is here to fix that, and generously extols the many virtues of quite a few guys I'd never heard of but am glad to know more about now. Likewise his admiration of Rice and other forebears. Not many guys use their autobiographies to talk about how great everyone else is, but then that's another measure of this man.

I also enjoyed his various footnotes about colloquialisms and terms that have fallen out of usage; Frank loves our crazy language and its inane intricacies, and his good-humored, often ironic wordplay is one of the most appealing things about his writing.

This book is in fact just a flat-out pleasure to read, especially if you enjoy sports. But even if you don't, it's worth reading for the quality of the writing, and the quality of the man. In a world where profit and fame have become the only things that seem to matter, not just in sports but in business and all else, guys like Frank Deford make us realize what old school can and should mean. The man has character. He knows what matters in life as well as sports, and to read his words is to learn many fine and useful things about how to live and be as a human being. Plus he's always willing to insert some humor, and he can be mighty funny.

Let's just say it once and for all: Frank DeFord is not just the best American sportswriter, he's one of the best American writers period.

Thanks for sharing, my friend.
Our friend!
You helped me love words as a kid, and that love has served me as well as any I've ever found.
Peace and all good things to you and yours, Mr. Deford.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SPORTSWRITING FOR GROWNUPS Sept. 24 2012
By A. Hooper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When sportswriter/author/broadcaster Frank Deford published his memoirs in 2012, his fans were ready and waiting. Salivating, even.

Included were people who tune in to his weekly sports sermons on NPR Radio, and those who know him from his perceptive articles in Sports Illustrated and other national magazines. There are also some published books with his name on them.

Frank Deford knows words. Lots of words. And while he writes about sports, he sees them whole - warts, hypocrisies and all.

In one passage in Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter, he astutely points out that an obsession with sports reveals a flaw of either character or culture, or perhaps both. His point is that couch jocks need to get a life. Watching or even playing sports should be an add-on, not a holy mission.

In today's sports media there are relatively few practitioners who echo Deford's sentiments. Most TV sports commentators are more earnest about the games they report on than war correspondents. (Parenthetically, too many of the commentators get by on nine-word vocabularies, which pretty much eliminates anything like nuanced analysis.)

While Deford doesn't denigrate their sporting heroes, he does humanize them.

He sees the star athletes of the day - any day - as life-sized, not demigods. Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Mickey Mantle, basketball politico Bill Bradley ... Deford knew these wunderkinds in their prime and over time. He watched them flourish, mature and fade from their central identities. And quite often, that's when they became most interesting.

In turn, the athletes he dealt with came to appreciate him. They knew they could talk frankly with Deford and he wouldn't hit them with any cheap shots in print. Just the truth of their past and present. And he usually got it right.

What Deford brings to the table is perspective. If the TV sports commentators want to learn a new word, there's one that might come in handy: Perspective.

Never mind. It's more than two syllables.

- Al Hooper
- More reviews at E-HOOPER.COM.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An elegy for sports and scribes that covered the games. Excellent. May 13 2012
By Narut Ujnat - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Frank DeFord (not Deford thank you, sir) is someone I have grown up seeing on television and in articles that I have come across as a kid in Sports Illustrated.

To be sure, one look at the author, and you just know he is a character (the pencil-thin mustahce and the sideburns distinguish that this is one far-out cat). And, in this book, you will realize that DeFord is an excellent writer with a great eye for details large and small which, unfortunately, have begun to escape newer generations with ESPN, Fox, Youtube, Twitter and all the other accouterments of the modern age that actually make athletes less available in some ways.

There was a time, not too long ago, when you either saw certain moments or you turned to Sports Illustrated to read articles about your heroes and their unseen feats. As DeFord makes amply clear in this book, sometimes the writers were able to make myths from what today seems pedestrian. Man, I was lucky to read Jim Murray's work in the LA Times growing up, and having people like DeFord in copies of Sports Illustrated I was able to purloin from various sources (plus Vin Scully, Chick Hearn and Dick Enberg, and Stu Nahan to see and hear on TV and radio). Writers that transcended simple descriptions of sports and allowed me to enjoy good examples of writing.

I simply loved this book. I greatly enjoy DeFord when I hear or see him (and infrequently read) him these days because of his great writing and some great stories. He covered the NBA when it was only a sport for oddballs (hard to believe these days) and got to actually befriend athletes rather than discuss their injuries or latest contracts. In the many wonderful chapters of this book, we get stories of so many heroes and villains and some autobiographical details of a vanishing world.

DeFord is a hell of a writer, and this book proves it. There are some lines (probably unrepeatable here) that I re-read several times marveling at their construction and context (Man, how come I didn't think of some of these lines, after all?). A joy for readers who enjoy sports and are fans that are probably a little more introspective than just watching SportsCenter on a regular basis, I was sad to see this book end.

Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Over Time - A Conversational Memoir From America's Best Known Sportswriter Aug. 14 2012
By Mark - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter is perhaps the most conversational memoir I have ever read. The chapters are bite-sized, perhaps fitting for a sportswriter forced to squeeze a lot into medium length pieces. While this is not a traditional auto-biography or memoir, it is far above the rest in one key aspect: reading this makes you feel as if you are actually listening to Frank Deford in the flesh. And believe me, he doesn't hold back.

Each chapter is a loosely collected bunch of stories centered on a theme. The order of the themes from chapter to chapter is seemingly random, though there are patterns in certain sections. There are interesting facts throughout, and while the author goes on many tangents they all seem to arrive at their destination eventually.

Mr. Deford has a certain style of writing that is all his own. He is succinct and yet he always finds a way to include a well-placed flourish. And the various stories he tells are often very funny. Not everybody will appreciate his florid writing style. But what he has to say is almost always interesting.

The risk with any conversational memoir is that you might alienate your audience by expressing views at odds with their own. And I must admit that I often found myself disagreeing with what the author said or the way he said it. Yet even in the areas where I didn't see things the same way the author did, I was always able to understand his point of view. That is a testament to the kind of communicator he is.

CONCLUSION

This book provides an inside look into the life and thoughts of Frank Deford. I personally appreciated the way he included tidbits about all the people he met along the way, even those who were not superstars. Some of the individual stories were underwhelming, and I still can't say that the totality of them form a cohesive auto-biography. But the sum total is an interesting conversational memoir filled with amusing stories, sports trivia and strong opinions. If you think that is up your alley, it will be worth it for you to give this book a chance.

Enjoy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the lions of sportswriting delivers the book of the year June 28 2012
By Jared Castle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Frank Deford is a writer. He usually writes about sports, but the term "sportswriter" doesn't seem sufficient. He's more than that. Deford is a very talented scribe (like Jimmy Cannon, Jim Murray, and A.J. Liebling) who just happens to apply his talents to the sports world. This book shows us just how well.

Over Time is part biography, part memoir, and part soapbox. It's full of entertaining stories that illuminate both the writing profession and the sports world. The book covers Deford's time spent at Sports Illustrated, Newsweek and Vanity Fair. It also describes his time as editor of the The National (a widely beloved, but short-lived) sports tabloid in the early 90s. Deford shares his experiences with, and opinions of, some of our greatest athletes including Billie Jean King, Muhammad Ali, Wilt Chamberlain, and Bill Bradley. A story about Deford's trip on a train with Ali (this time as budding artist) is priceless.

As you would expect, Over Time is well written. I think one of the strengths of the book is its non-chronological structure. It's brings a freshness to each chapter without sacrificing some of the common themes. I also appreciated that the book was full of new writing, not just a compilation of past articles written by Deford.

Along the way, we learn much about Deford himself and he's as interesting as athletes he covered. Much like the late writer Christopher Hitchens, Raconteur is a term that comes to mind with Deford. Wit is another. I saw Deford on the Colbert Report last night. Colbert started by asking Deford if he ever played (Deford was actually a high-scoring high school basketball star). He smiled and answered "I was a high school star, but wasn't everyone?" His writing is full of similar wit. Can you say the same about Skip Bayless and Bill Simmons?

If you like writing, run and get a copy of Over Time. If you also like sports, you are in for a couple of the best spent reading evenings of your life.

Rating: Five stars.

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