The Loop

Book Review: The Red Smith Reader

November 22, 2014

Each week will highlight a golf book that it finds of interest to readers. This week is:

The Red Smith Reader

Edited by Dave Anderson

Skyhorse Publishing, $17.95, paperback, 308 pages


This book, which was first released in 1982, does the legend justice and fulfills its other purposes of entertaining, educating and enlightening readers about a bygone world of sports that was embraced by the people who lived it and desired by those who came after it. It reprints 131 of his 800-word columns on subjects such as football, baseball, fishing, boxing, racing and a hodgepodge of other subjects -- including golf -- a diversity that is another of the book's purposes. Any stop within the Red Smith Reader instantly broadens your mind and educates you on a subject you might not know too well.

Born in Green Bay, Wis., Smith went to Notre Dame and worked the majority of his career in New York for the Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In 1976 he was given the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame. He died in 1982 at 76. Anderson, a colleague at the Times and a fellow Pulitzer winner, compiled the columns the first time around in 1982 and was involved in this reworking for a new paperback. In a new introduction, he acknowledges the value of an updated edition to bring Red Smith to new readers. He told a middle-aged friend who was not familiar with Smith's writing, only his name, that "They're republishing The Red Smith Reader. You can read him now."

I particularly enjoyed: As far as the writing, I found even the fringe topics good reading. What impressed me the most was making a recent visit to see Anderson and observing his meticulous personal filing on the subjects he covered, with cabinets full of clippings and background material. It reinforced in my mind that he did his homework on selecting these Smith columns, many Dave said he read in his formative years as a columnist.