What a Time it was: The Best of W.C. Heinz on Sports
Many think that W. C. Heinz stands right alongside the legendary New York Times columnist Red Smith as the greatest sports writer of the 1940s and '50s. Paving the way for the New Journalism of Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, and Jimmy Breslin, Heinz was the first sports writer to make his living exclusively by writing for magazines. Whether describing mobbed-up boxers, crippled jockeys, lame horses, aspiring ballplayers, or driven football coaches, Heinz's finely etched, indelible portraits recall a sports era less influenced by money, image, and self-indulgence. He collaborated with Vince Lombardi on the book Run to Daylight, cowrote the novel M*A*S*H with Dr. H. Richard Hornberger under the pseudonym Richard Hooker, and wrote what Hemingway considered to be the "only good novel about a fighter I've ever read," The Professional. In this collection of Heinz's finest writing, we meet the immortal Red Grange; the injury-riddled, "purest baseball player" of his era, Pistol Pete Reiser; the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson; and the Brownsville Bum, Bummy Davis, in a story that Jimmy Breslin calls the "best magazine sports story of all time." Here is a long-overdue homage to a vastly underappreciated writer.