Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Frank Deford Book, Over Time

First, in deference to one of Frank Deford's pet peeves, I have spelled his name correctly. It is not DeFord as so many people write it. Drives him nuts. I can relate; no one could pronounce or spell my maiden name either and it gets really old after a while.

The subtitle of this book is My Life as a Sportswriter and I encourage you to get a copy as soon as it comes out in May. He is in my opinion one of the best writers around. People place sportswriters on a lower level than "actual writers" for some reason, but Deford is just plain great. You may have heard his pieces on NPR on your morning commute as I did for many years. If so, you know he has a somewhat jaded opinion on sports, but since he knows whereof he speaks, it is an opinion that we should take heed of.

In this memoir he writes about his wife Carol, his great friendship with Arthur Ashe, the characters he's met in all his years of covering sports, self-deprecating accounts of his eventful life in sports, and other memories. I hadn't realized how much credit should be given Arthur Ashe for his work in Africa and in trying to create an equality in sports, tennis of course, but also sports in general. I also didn't realize what a great sense of humor he had or his knowledge of topics such as apartheid.

As a person with COPD, I was interested to know that he has lung disease, and that he had a daughter who inherited his abnormality and died of cystic fibrosis. Later he and his wife adopted a little girl from the Philippines, a daughter they adore. He also writes wonderful stories about his son.

Deford grew up in Baltimore and I loved his description of "Bawlmer, Merlin" the way it was in his childhood. In fact, I enjoyed his memories of his personal life more than his sports memories if that's possible. You also get a sense of how sportswriting has changed in Deford's lifetime, from the journalists like Grantland Rice (who, gasp, he doesn't have a lot of respect for) to the television personalities of the current scene. The sportswriters with genuine writing talent don't come any better than Frank Deford. Long may he write. I highly recommend this book.


  1. I am interested in this book too. I had no idea about the spelling though!

  2. I don't listen to NPR as much as I used to because I'm not in my car that much. I'm not familiar with Deford but this sounds like a book I'd enjoy. I do love a good memoir.