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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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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. And, if you are too young to remember athletes like Johnny Bench, George Brett, Pete Maravich, Julius Erving, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Walter Payton or Terry Bradshaw, you will wish you have seen them.
I read all 64 articles, straight through. While I enjoyed them all, I particularly enjoyed the pieces about Steve Bilko, Jim Palmer, Pete Maravich, Marvin Hagler and Muhammad Ali.
Pete Rose once said that Brooks Robinson belongs in a higher league. The same holds true for John Schulian.