Franz Lidz

Franz Lidz

Franz Lidz joined the writing staff of Sports Illustrated in 1980, even though he had never read the magazine and had covered only one sporting event in his life - a pigeon race in Shapleigh, Maine. A columnist for Smithsonian and Vice President of Communications of the Detroit Pistons, he has written for the New York Times since 1982, on travel, TV, film and theater. His work is widely anthologized and includes the childhood memoir Unstrung Heroes -- which was turned into an eponymous 1995 film, directed by Diane Keaton -- the urban history Ghosty Men: The Strange But True Story of the Collyer Brothers and the "crypto-memoir" Fairway To Hell. His career highlights at S.I. include road trips in search of sports on the equator, the world's most dangerous sport and Roman gladiators as the first sports superstars, a lengthy meditation on Don King's hair, the second-ever descent of Africa's Zambezi River, a weighty essay on the 580-pound sumo wrestler Konishiki, an investigation into the questionable around-the-world run by Robert Garside, a look inside the mind games at the 1987 world chess championship between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov in Seville, Spain, three weeks in the Sahara covering the 2002 Paris-to-Dakar Rally, a trudge through Panama's Darien jungle retracing Vasco Núñez de Balboa's 1513 expedition, and a journey into the world of Jeopardy! His essay on George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees' line of succession was called the "scoop of the year" in the 2008 Houghton-Mifflin collection The Best American Sports Writing. In 2013 he co-wrote a groundbreaking S.I. cover story with NBA player Jason Collins in which Collins became the first active male in one of the four major North American team sports to announce he was gay. Among the other noteworthy news stories he broke: the surreal, Fifth-Dimensional beliefs of former All-Star catcher Darren Daulton. and the twisted torment of onetime Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

All Franz Lidz Stories

Sept. 14, 1988

Hellish Fast Break

THOUGH AUSTRALIA IS RANKED HIGHER, THE TEAM THE Dutch women areworried about is South Korea, which has honed a fast-breaking ...

Aug. 13, 1990


One evening when Jose (Chico) Lind was 10, he crept into a neighbor's chicken coop in his hometown of Dorado, Puerto Rico, and tried to ...

July 13, 1987


Three years ago, the only cards Jeff Rogovin ran off in his Collegeville, Pa., print shop read something along the lines of HIERONYMUS SMITH, ...

Feb. 17, 2003

Livin' It For one sailing team, a Jules Verne legend came to life

The most harrowing passage in Jules Verne's 20000 Leagues under the Sea involves a school of giant squid with a hankering for French ...

Dec. 20, 1982


In that rich fantasyland where every sports fan is a champion, my Uncle Harry is the world's greatest boxer in every amateur division from ...

July 23, 2001

Same Borough, New Team Long-suffering Brooklyn finally has some new Boys of Summer: the Cyclones

For three quarters of a century the wooden cars of the Cycloneroller coaster have lurched slowly heavenward, inch by ominousinch, before ...

Nov. 29, 1999

Youth Wasn't Served Her teen rivals got more hype, but Lindsay Davenport got the win at the Chase

At the other end of this century, tennis players swilledchampagne during changeovers. But Martina Hingis drained nomagnums on Sunday ...

April 24, 1989


Vengeance may be the most powerful motivating factor in sports. Vanquished athletes long for it. Humbled teams crave it. Robbie Knievel was ...

Aug. 03, 1987


Fifty years ago Don Budge met Baron Gottfried von Cramm in the deciding match of a politically charged Davis Cup tie between the U.S. and ...

June 26, 1989

Granny and THE GIANT

San Francisco's Kevin Mitchell leads the majors in homers and RBIs, and says he owes it all to his grandmother

Dec. 10, 2001

Just The Two Of Us Making up for a lifetime apart, Lee and Tony Trevino enjoyed some long overdue quality time at the Father/Son Challenge

In the Bahamas, only the waves--rising, curling, crashing--are more consistent and more predictable than Lee Trevino's controlled fades.