Not many sportswriters are interesting enough to sustain the first sentence of a memoir let alone a full-blown autobiography, but, then, there's only one Jim Murray. The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of the Los Angeles Times is an ace in a pack of deuces, a 240-yard three-wood to the heart of a postage-stamp green, a Koufax curve, a Unitas pass, an Ali shuffle, a Secretariat by 31 lengths, and a Jordan jumper at the buzzer from the top of the key. His sense of humor, exhaustive reportage, clear biases, and gorgeous prose revolutionized the very notion of the sports column; his decency and outrage--and the way he's squeezed them both into print for five decades--made him a true avatar of the press box. Yet, his life neither begins nor ends with sports, nor is it without the kinds of trials that would have easily paralyzed a lesser soul. If he writes thrillingly of his experiences on the fields of play, and insightfully about the Hollywood he played around in before being drafted by Sports Illustrated in the '50s, Murray also writes with great compassion and candor about his wife's losing battle with cancer and his own heroic toe-to-toe with blindness.
In the end, Murray wonders, "What would our lives be without our Galloping Ghosts, Manassa Maulers, Brown Bombers, Dizzies and Daffies, Rockies and Fearsome Foursomes, and Steel Curtains. They are part and parcel of the fabric of America." For several generations of fans, so is Jim Murray. This engaging memoir covers the bases of explaining why. --Jeff Silverman