A Sporting Life

The author of America’s best-loved baseball book speaks of his days as a reporter, of his time (unique among sportswriters) owning a team, and of his latest subject, Jack Dempsey, whose violent career he uses to illuminate an era

Born in Brooklyn in 1927, Roger Kahn learned early the difference between the bright grass at nearby Ebbets Field and the poetic grass that was, as his antibaseball mother read to him from Whitman, “the beautiful uncut hair of graves.” Kahn’s literate sport-mindedness, so admired over the years by reviewers of his lyrical yet savvy memoirs and baseball histories, can probably be traced to the dining-table arguments of his Brooklyn teacher parents (the classicist, sports-phobic mother, Olga, and the Dodger-friendly historian father, Gordon) debating baseball’

 
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