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Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter Hardcover – May 1, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 139 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Deford went to work for Sports Illustrated in 1962, fresh out of college. Since then, in addition to magazine work, he’s won a Peabody and an Emmy, written 10 novels, and delivered more than 1,500 commentaries on NPR’s Morning Edition. His accomplishments are many, but in this wildly entertaining and informative memoir, he refers to himself only as the scrivener. His subjects are what matters, and he gives them their due, as in a poignant chapter on the late Wilt Chamberlain, which offers more insight into that enigmatic basketball icon than any half-dozen books. Fortunately, despite the self-deprecating tone, Deford does portray the highlights of his remarkable career, including his early stint covering the NBA at a time when players flew commercial, played doubleheaders to boost the gate, and hung out with sportswriters because they could expense the bar tab. He was also ahead of the pack in covering women’s sports, especially tennis, and he offers some insight into why women’s team sports have never moved beyond a niche level of popularity in the U.S. A lifetime sportswriter, he’s very aware of the history of his craft, and, along the way, he shares his thoughts on “then-and-now,” including pointed anecdotes on some sportswriting legends from the past. Put this one on the shelf alongside such other classic sportswriters’ memoirs as Robert Lipsyte’s An Accidental Sportswriter (2011), Roger Kahn’s Into My Own (2006), and Ira Berkow’s Full Swing (2006). --Wes Lukowsky


“Equal doses of self-deprecating humor and anecdotal history of American sports journalism are the essence of Frank Deford's entertaining new memoir.”—Chicago Tribune

“Deford is the Holy Grail. He's simply one of the greatest sportswriters of all time. ... [Over Time] has a little bit of everything -- great stories about interviewing everyone from Richard Nixon … to Jerry Jones. … Deford played with the Harlem Globetrotters, introduced the world to Bill Bradley, really disliked Rodney Dangerfield, edited the only national sports daily in our history (The National), and has great takes on the history and characters of Sports Illustrated in its formative years. . . . Deford's the best.”—Peter King, SI.com

"Deford's cred is incredible, his accolades deserved... He does not pull a punch when it comes to boxing or even to the tastes-great, less-filling Miller Lite commercials he once made... [Deford] has long been the genuine article." —Los Angeles Times

“He sketches insightful remembrances of stars like Wilt Chamberlain and Billie Jean King and lavishes affection and admiration on Sports Illustrated colleagues Andre Laguerre, Dan Jenkins, and the ‘tortured’ writer Mark Kram … [Deford is] sports writing's Sinatra.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Endearing... Over Time imparts a sense of a life well lived and fully enjoyed.”—The New York Times

"The mixture of homage to sportswriters who came before him, such as Grantland Rice; sometimes wistful vignettes of sports figures like Arthur Ashe; and his own personal reflections on the evolution of sports journalism combine to offer a cultural perspective that transcends a mere job." —Publishers Weekly (Top 10 in Sports)

“Frank Deford is the best there is. His memoir Over Time is beautiful, funny, poignant and poetic.” —Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights and Father's Day

“A wonderful book. Over Time is both a treasure and a treasury.”—Sally Jenkins, Washington Post columnist and New York Times bestselling author of It’s Not About the Bike

“Frank Deford is the best sportswriter I’ve ever read. If there’s a Mount Rushmore of sportswriting, Deford is up there, purple ties and all.”—Tony Kornheiser

“Wonderful. … [Deford is] the gold standard for modern sportswriting.”—Frank Murtaugh, Memphis Flyer

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; 2nd Edition edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802120156
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802120151
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #734,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Hooper on September 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When sportswriter/author/broadcaster Frank Deford published his memoirs in 2012, his fans were ready and waiting. Salivating, even.

Included were people who tune in to his weekly sports sermons on NPR Radio, and those who know him from his perceptive articles in Sports Illustrated and other national magazines. There are also some published books with his name on them.

Frank Deford knows words. Lots of words. And while he writes about sports, he sees them whole - warts, hypocrisies and all.

In one passage in Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter, he astutely points out that an obsession with sports reveals a flaw of either character or culture, or perhaps both. His point is that couch jocks need to get a life. Watching or even playing sports should be an add-on, not a holy mission.

In today's sports media there are relatively few practitioners who echo Deford's sentiments. Most TV sports commentators are more earnest about the games they report on than war correspondents. (Parenthetically, too many of the commentators get by on nine-word vocabularies, which pretty much eliminates anything like nuanced analysis.)

While Deford doesn't denigrate their sporting heroes, he does humanize them.

He sees the star athletes of the day - any day - as life-sized, not demigods. Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Mickey Mantle, basketball politico Bill Bradley ... Deford knew these wunderkinds in their prime and over time. He watched them flourish, mature and fade from their central identities. And quite often, that's when they became most interesting.

In turn, the athletes he dealt with came to appreciate him. They knew they could talk frankly with Deford and he wouldn't hit them with any cheap shots in print.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Frank Deford may have taught me to write. As a kid I read every SI from about 1970-1982 cover to cover, and his were invariably the funniest and most enjoyable pieces (Dan Jenkins was the other highlight). Looking at my style now, it sure resembles Frank's then. If not nearly as fine. And he's still going strong, as this memoir attests.

Like his sports articles it's breezy and conversational, yet also surprisingly literate and intelligent. The man gets to the core of a person or issue mighty quick, and his unerring eye for quality and truth is a thing of much beauty. DeFord (you coulda been a name contender, Frank!) is also a people person, as they say, and his understanding of what makes us tick as humans as well as athletes lends his words real depth of meaning beyond their athletic subjects. Few sportswriters, or really any writers, can do that consistently.

Along with endless funny and touching anecdotes here are a number of tributes to sportswriting/editing greats from years gone by who never got their due from the general reading public. FD is here to fix that, and generously extols the many virtues of quite a few guys I'd never heard of but am glad to know more about now. Likewise his admiration of Rice and other forebears. Not many guys use their autobiographies to talk about how great everyone else is, but then that's another measure of this man.

I also enjoyed his various footnotes about colloquialisms and terms that have fallen out of usage; Frank loves our crazy language and its inane intricacies, and his good-humored, often ironic wordplay is one of the most appealing things about his writing.

This book is in fact just a flat-out pleasure to read, especially if you enjoy sports.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Frank DeFord (not Deford thank you, sir) is someone I have grown up seeing on television and in articles that I have come across as a kid in Sports Illustrated.

To be sure, one look at the author, and you just know he is a character (the pencil-thin mustahce and the sideburns distinguish that this is one far-out cat). And, in this book, you will realize that DeFord is an excellent writer with a great eye for details large and small which, unfortunately, have begun to escape newer generations with ESPN, Fox, Youtube, Twitter and all the other accouterments of the modern age that actually make athletes less available in some ways.

There was a time, not too long ago, when you either saw certain moments or you turned to Sports Illustrated to read articles about your heroes and their unseen feats. As DeFord makes amply clear in this book, sometimes the writers were able to make myths from what today seems pedestrian. Man, I was lucky to read Jim Murray's work in the LA Times growing up, and having people like DeFord in copies of Sports Illustrated I was able to purloin from various sources (plus Vin Scully, Chick Hearn and Dick Enberg, and Stu Nahan to see and hear on TV and radio). Writers that transcended simple descriptions of sports and allowed me to enjoy good examples of writing.

I simply loved this book. I greatly enjoy DeFord when I hear or see him (and infrequently read) him these days because of his great writing and some great stories. He covered the NBA when it was only a sport for oddballs (hard to believe these days) and got to actually befriend athletes rather than discuss their injuries or latest contracts.
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