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Sometimes They Even Shook Your Hand: Portraits of Champions Who Walked Among Us Paperback – October 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780803237766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803237766
  • ASIN: 0803237766
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,251,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"If today's center fielders and point guards seem like lesser figures than men like Maravich and Charleston, that's primarily because they are so much more heavily covered but also because so much of that coverage is needlessly cruel. Without falsely inflating them or hiding their weaknesses, Mr. Schulian made one generation of athletes worthy subjects of wonder. Had Hollywood not called, you suspect, he'd have done the same for another."—Tim Marchman, Wall Street Journal
(Tim Marchman Wall Street Journal 20110917)

"Whether discoursing on boxing, horse racing, tennis players or Olympic swimmers, John Schulian delivers tales replete with the elements that make fiction come alive. Readers of a certain age will experience a walk down memory lane and others will have the pleasure of meeting some of the greatest, most interesting and human sports figures they have never heard of."—Phyllis Hanlon, New York Journal of Books
(Phyllis Hanlon New York Journal of Books )

"Like a pinch hitter who steps to the plate at a crucial point in the game, John Schulian rises magnificently to the occasion. . . . These essays are pungent and heartfelt and knowing. They come at you straight and strong."—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
(Julia Keller Chicago Tribune )

"Whichever way you take the title, the book is full of fine writing. Schulian deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as some of his heroes, including the aforementioned Smith and Heinz. Thanks to University of Nebraska Press for collecting this work."—NPR's Only a Game
(NPR's Only a Game 20111203)

"These pieces, and Schulian's longer profiles written for other publications around that time—such as a fine portrait of the cerebral but hard-hitting Bears safety Gary Fencik, for GQ—have traveled well and together capture an era ever worth remembering."—Alan Moores, Booklist
(Alan Moores Booklist 20110901)

"Looking back through the years in sports reveals much about the culture and society in which we live. It's hard to imagine Babe Ruth getting away with his trysts in a TMZ society. Or Wilt Chamberlain saying whatever comes into his head on Twitter. This is why John Schulian's recent book, Sometimes They Even Shook Your Hand, is an intriguing look back at a time when athletes behaved a lot differently with their fan base."—Krystina Lucido, PressBox
(Krystina Lucido PressBox )

About the Author

John Schulian’s work has been included in Best American Sports Writing and Sports Illustrated’s Fifty Years of Great Writing. His many books include The John Lardner Reader and Twilight of the Long-Ball Gods: Dispatches from the Disappearing Heart of Baseball, both available in Bison Books editions. William Nack is the author of Secretariat: The Making of a Champion and Ruffian: A Racetrack Romance.

More About the Author

John Schulian, who has had two careers as a writer, one in newspapers, the other in Hollywood, was born in Los Angeles in 1945 and reared there and in Salt Lake City. Before establishing himself as a nationally-syndicated sports columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times, he was a copy editor at the Salt Lake Tribune, a cityside reporter and pop music columnist at the Baltimore Evening Sun, and a sports writer at the Washington Post. He moved to Chicago in 1977 as a sports columnist at that city's Daily News. When the paper folded 13 months later, he shifted to the Sun-Times, where he won a National Headliner Award in 1979, was regularly in included in E.P. Dutton's annual "Best Sports Stories" anthology, and published a highly-regarded collection of his boxing writing, "Writers' Fighters and Other Sweet Scientists." Rupert Murdoch purchased the Sun-Times in 1984 and Schulian left less than six months later after a dust-up with one of Murdoch's editors. He landed at the Philadelphia Daily News long enough to win the 1985 Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism, and then took off for Hollywood at the invitation of Steven Bochco, creator of "Hill Street Blues." Schulian broke into TV with an "L.A. Law" script and moved on to work on the writing staffs of "Miami Vice," "The 'Slap' Maxwell Story," and "Wiseguy." He was a writer-producer on "Midnight Caller," "Reasonable Doubts," and "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" before he struck gold as a co-creator of "Xena: Warrior Princess," which became, for a while, the world's foremost syndicated TV series. Schulian later wrote and produced such series as "JAG," "Outer Limits," and "Tremors" while keeping his hand in the printed word. A collection of his baseball writing, "Twilight of the Long-ball Gods," was published in 2005, and he has written for Sports Illustrated, GQ, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Oxford American, Inside Sports, Sport, Playboy, and His journalism has been anthologized in "The Best American Sports Writing," "Reading the Fights," "Sports Illustrated's 50 Years of Great Writing," and "Sports Illustrated's Great Football Writing." He has also had short stories published in the Prague Revue and on Schulian is the editor of "The John Lardner Reader" and co-editor, with George Kimball, of two anthologies, "The Fighter Still Remains: A Celebration of Boxing in Poetry and Song from Ali to Zevon" and "At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing," the latter due from Library of America in Spring 2011. A general collection of Schulian's sportswriting, "Sometimes They Even Shook Your Hand," is tentatively scheduled for publication in Fall 2011.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James W. Miller on October 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had the privilege of being a colleague of John Schulian at the Baltimore Evening Sun in the early 1970's. He was an apprentice master then and this collection of his best writing proves that he arrived intact. Schulian always has had the ability to say things in a way that the rest of us wish we could, and his language delights throughout. In going from one column to the next, readers put themselves into the same position that Schulian found former Manager Gene Mauch: "You go into a baseball vacuum in February and you don't come out until the season's over." You go into a vacuum of delight on page 1 and you don't come out until the last page.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By mj deneen on March 2, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you were fortunate to reside in Chicago in the 80"s and followed sports, the Chicago Sun Times was required reading. A host of star writers graced the tabloid sports section and one of the best writers was John Schulian. John left the sports world for the greener pastures of film and television. In this volume one can read the daily pieces written under deadline pressure and enjoy the lengthy profiles for the magazine world. It is a world pre-twenty four hour highlight shows and internet bloggings. Here in all their glory are the greats, near greats and even ingrates but all handled with the delicate touch of a great writer. This book resides on my shelf with Deford, Jenkins and Murray among others-treasured and enjoyed today and in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on September 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This paperback includes several of the columns of sportswriter John Schulian. Each column is about an individual from a variety of sports. Sports included are football, baseball, basketball, horse racing, sportswriters, and boxing in that order. Baseball, boxing, and football in that order occupy the most space in the book and include notables in each of the sports listed. Every writer has their own style of writing be it Jim Murray, John Lardner, Red Smith, John Schulian or anyone else. Anyone aspiring to be a sports writer would do well to read the various writers to see the style each one had in informing and entertaining their readers and this effort on the collection of columns of John Schulian would be a worthwhile book to include in their reading. Like several other books on noted sportswriters I wish this book was available in hard cover.
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In the introduction to "Sometimes They Even Shook Your Hand," author John Schulian contrasts Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who takes a private helicopter to and from his games at the Staples Center, with Steve Van Buren, running back for the Philadelphia Eagles, who climbed aboard a trolley car, transferred to a subway and walked the final seven blocks to Shibe Park for the 1948 NFL championship game the day after a blizzard had buried the city.

In this collection of 64 articles, Schulian writes about athletes more like Van Buren than Bryant. Most of the pieces are from the 1970s and 1980s. Topic-wise, baseball covers 100 pages; basketball, horses and in-between, 80 pages; football, 73 pages; boxing 60 pages; and writers, 25 pages. The great majority of the articles appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Philadelphia Daily News.

In the foreward, William Nack writes that Schulian, "one of the keenest and most literate observers...takes us to places and events only dimly remembered and recalls voices long silenced, long forgotten." He adds, "Schulian writes about the last heroes who at least gave the impression that they walked among us."

Like most great writers, Schulian impresses the reader over and over. Just when you finish an article that you don't think can be topped, you read the next one and you're equally impressed. Schulian appears comfortable with any sport, but his soars when it comes to baseball and boxing.

If you were a sports fan in the 70s and 80s, you will thoroughly enjoy these articles.
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