Playing With the Prose

A quick trip through some of the best writing from 50 years of SI--in 60 words or less
September 26, 2004

JIM BROSNAN

Baseball friendships are mostly transient affairs; ballplayers come and go. You don't know from year to year whether you'll be congratulating a man for hitting a home run or knocking him down with a fastball so he won't.

You Can Consider It Came from Me

--MARCH 7, 1960

PETER GENT

[On playing in the NFL] You feel and taste more on one Sunday afternoon than most people do in a lifetime, and you don't have to wait years to find out if you are doing a good job.

Waiting for the Turk

--JULY 31, 1978

JEFF MACGregor

Everybody tells you [rattlesnake meat] tastes just like chicken. Maybe, but only if the chicken in question had a neck tattoo, took hostages and died in a police shootout.

Snakes Alive!

--JULY 27, 1998

A.J. LIEBLING

"I never married," the Professor says. "I always live a la carte."

The University of Eighth Avenue, Part II

--DECEMBER12, 1955

GEORGE BLANDA, WITH JACK OLSEN

[Someone] wrote a whole book to prove that pro football is violent. Imagine! That's like writing a book to prove that Jell-O is soft.

Getting My Kicks, Part III

--AUGUST 2, 1971

MARK HARRIS

In the person of Fibber Hirayama, whose ancestry is Japanese, whose techniques are American and who contains in fine balance within himself his double heritage, the humiliated but emergent city of Hiroshima glimpses in ideal fusion of West with East.

An Outfielder for Hiroshima

--AUGUST 4, 1958

PETER MATTHIESSEN

The wild creatures of the open spaces, of clear water and green northern wilds, of gold prairie and huge sky, embody a human longing no less civilized for being primitive, no less real for being felt rather than thought.

Slaughter and Salvation

--NOVEMBER 16, 1959

WILLIAM FAULKNER

Once the horse moved man's physical body and his household goods and his articles of commerce from one place to another. Nowadays all it moves is a part or the whole of his bank account, either through betting on it or trying to keep owning or feeding it.

Kentucky: May: Saturday

--MAY 16, 1955

IAN FLEMING

I would not fire a pistol in a room without some thoughts on the matter, as bullets have a bad habit of bouncing off things and coming home to roost.

The Guns of James Bond

--MARCH 19, 1962

WILLIAM SAROYAN

Booing can be therapeutic--sometimes to prod a child to sudden speedy growth at the age of 31.

One by One and Seven

--OCTOBER 28, 1956

GEORGE FOREMAN, WITH EDWIN SHRAKE

You stayed away from me unless you were really curious about trouble.

Man, Big George Is Back

--DECEMBER 15, 1975

HERBERT WARREN WIND

Tall, spare, and with a deliberate gait that seems to kick up dust even when he is walking a clean sweep of Merion bluegrass, [Charlie] Coe, a 35-year-old oil broker from Oklahoma, has all the contingent attributes of the men who introduced law, order and the invariable Boston schoolmarm to our rough frontier a century or so ago.

High Noon at Broadmoor

--SEPTEMBER 14, 1959

THOMAS MCGuane

Texas is ... a place where Birkenstocks, oat bran, foreign films and Saabs spontaneously catch fire and then smolder grimly in an alien climate.

Making the Cut

--FEBRUARY 25, 1991

JOHN STEINBECK

I am surprised that the dour brotherhood of psychoanalysts has not attacked fishing, since it seems to me it is in competition. Two hours with a fishing rod is worth 10 hours on the couch and very much less expensive.

Then My Arm Glassed Up

--DECEMBER 20, 1965

ROBERT FROST

One of the hardest things to accept as just is a called third strike.

Perfect Day--a Day of Prowess

--JULY 23, 1956

STEVE RUSHIN

Bobby Knight likes to say of sportswriters, "We all learn to write by the second grade; most of us move on to bigger things." Most of us stop throwing chairs and calling ourselves Bobby by the second grade too.

Road Swing

--OCTOBER 19, 1998

ROBERT F. JONES

I am put in mind of a remark my daughter made when she was three years old and saw her first mounted deer head. She stared at it for a long time, then said firmly, "The rest of him lives in the wall."

Encounter at the Summit

--NOVEMBER 5, 1973

JOHN PAPANEK

It was in circa 44 B.C. that the guy who owned the dice in the original Palace, Emperor Augustus (a.k.a. Octavian, or Easy Eight) first uttered the immortal words, "Compus chumpus"--or, "If the man wants to play, let Caesar pay his way."

The Glory That Is Caesars

--JUNE 7, 1982

ROY TERRELL

Mohammed remained at bat for 16 hours and 39 minutes and scored 337 runs. By the time he was retired, the better part of four days had elapsed. So had most of the spectators.

This Is Cricket!

--AUGUST 28, 1961

JIMMY BRESLIN

The key to being a good horseplayer, of course, is to throw your money away as intelligently as possible. This is much better than throwing your money away stupidly. A turf counselor helps you to lose only with smart people.

Tips from a Turf Counselor

--SEPTEMBER 24, 1962

GARY SMITH

[A college basketball coach on recruiting] "Where else does a 50-year-old man chase a 17-year-old athlete? That's called pimpin' and hookin'. I hate it."

Hello, Trouble, I'm Dale Brown

--NOVEMBER 18, 1985

BIL GILBERT

Then I looked down and saw [my dog] walking quietly at my side, head and tail down, a figure of depression. My God, I remember thinking, he has a sympathetic hangover.

Mirror of My Mood

--MARCH 24, 1975

KENNY MOORE

[On Kenyan runners]To make men who could run a hundred miles on a handful of millet and a spurt of cow's blood, the Kalenjin tribes employed powerful means. The most potent was ritual circumcision.

Sons of the Wind

--FEBRUARY 26, 1990

FRANK DEFORD

... Now to Cincinnati ... and Billy Martin is positive he has come home at last. He always is.

Love, Hate and Billy Martin

--JUNE 2, 1975

WALLACE STEGNER

Everything in a primeval park ought to be preserved just as God made it: Everything except man, who is an intruder and has to be educated.

We Are Destroying Our National Parks

--JUNE 13, 1955

"... [Willie Mays] seems to inspect the pitcher as if he were a harmless but puzzling object recently deposited on the mound by the groundskeeper."

GEORGE PLIMPTON

Dream of Glory on the Mound / April 10, 1961

"He carried remorse with him as a man might carry a baboon on his shoulder. Remorse is a splendid name for a racehorse but it is a poor lifetime companion for a man."

ERNEST HEMINGWAY

African Journal, Part III: Imperiled Flanks / January 10, 1972

B/W PHOTOLANE STEWART B/W PHOTOEARL THIESEN ARCHIVES

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)