The John Lardner Reader


The John Lardner Reader

A Press Box Legend's Classic Sportswriting

John Lardner
Edited and with an introduction by John Schulian
Foreword by Dan Jenkins

304 pages


October 2010


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

This collection marks the return to print of John Lardner, one of America’s press box giants, a classic stylist whose wry humor and tireless reporting helped elevate sportswriting to art. The brilliant W. C. Heinz called Lardner “the best of us.” This book shows why.
Lardner applied his singular touch not only to his era’s icons—Joe Louis, Ted Williams, Satchel Paige—but to the scamps, eccentrics, hustlers, and con men in the shadow of sports. Whether in snappy columns or leisurely magazine pieces, Lardner held sport of every description up to the light, forever changing the way people wrote, read, and thought about their heroes, from superstars to scrappers. These forty-nine pieces represent sportswriting at the top of its game.

Author Bio

John Lardner (1913–60), the son of legendary humorist Ring Lardner, was a columnist for Newsweek; a frequent and much-honored contributor to the New Yorker, True, and Sport; and the author of It Beats Working, Strong Cigars and Lovely Women, and White Hopes and Other Tigers. John Schulian’s work has been included in Best American Sports Writing and Sports Illustrated’s Fifty Years of Great Writing. His Twilight of the Long-ball Gods: Dispatches from the Disappearing Heart of Baseball is available in a Bison Books edition. Dan Jenkins is the author of Jenkins at the Majors: 60 Years of the World’s Best Golf Writing, from Hogan to Tiger.


"If this collection of 49 sports pieces is a true measure of John Lardner's talent, it's almost scandalous that the work of Ring's oldest son has not appeared in book form for some 50 years. . . . A collection well worth the wait."—Alan Moores, Booklist

"In these days of chest-thumping anthropoids on ESPN, it does one's heart good to read Lardner (son of Ring) once again and to be reminded that there really was a golden age of sportswriting."—Henry Kisor,The Recluctant Blogger

"Fortunately for us, John Schulian, a distinguished sportswriter in his own right. . . has put together an invigorating sample of Lardner's best sportswriting, [The John Lardner Reader is] a generous and representative blend of Lardner's Newsweek columns, newspaper stories and freelance magazine pieces."—Alex Belth,

"While his fellow sportswriters were perfecting new techniques in the line of hero worship, Lardner was exploring sporting celebrity as performance, a way of hiding private obsessions and defeats, and a love, above all, of money and the high life. That he wrote about what he saw with such a light, clean touch doesn't diminish the basic darkness of his vision. Lardner, his mind on a time already past, saw LeBron James, the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Alex Rodriguez coming. He was appalled."—Tim Marchman, Wall Street Journal

"Lardner, who unfortunately died 50 years ago a couple of calendars short of his 50th birthday, fortunately has Schulian in his corner and reintroducing his work to a generation of scribes who could benefit from the opportunity to step back and reassess their craft."—Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News

"The John Lardner Reader is a terrific book because the best of John Lardner is extraordinarily good. And nobody should dismiss even the worst of him. . . . It is a great joy to see his work recollected and republished."—Bill Littlefield, Boston Globe

Table of Contents

Foreword by Dan Jenkins


Introduction by John Schulian

Part 1. In a Class by Themselves

Down Great Purple Valleys

"The Haig": Rowdy Rebel of the Fairways

Part 2. Bats and Brawls

Babe Herman

Good-by to All That

Memoirs of Old Satch

Most Blood for Your Money

The Home of the Bean and the Kid

The World's Richest Problem Child

Hard-way Bill on the Mississippi

They Walked by Night

Baseball Eye

Passing of an Unlicensed Hero

The All-American Rookie

Ball Fans and Other Primates

Memoirs of a Mild Fanatic

Razor Blades Amok

The Space Revolution

Part 3. Cauliflower Alley

Morgan on Jaws

Bag Hits Baer

The Boy Bandit

Upsy Downsy

Death of a Simian and a Scholar

The Case of the Chilly Giant

Mr. Percentage

Life with Eddie

The Sweet and the Tough

John Arthur Johnson

Fun at the Scales

Now Pitching for Bartlett's

When in Doubt, Hang the Judge

No Scar, No Memory

Part 4. Cautionary Tales

The Life and Loves of the Real McCoy

Mysterious Montague

Battling Siki

Part 5. Other Precincts

The Roller Derby

Sleeper for <AP>44

The Old Postgraduate Try

Rooney's Ride

An Angel on Horseback

Little Bill

Strong Cigars and Lovely Women

What Was That Again?

Mr. Jacoby and the National Folly

The Best of the Browsers

Maybe in Memoriam

The Life of T-ts Sh-r

What Price Olympic Peace?

Part 6. Two for the Money

Titanic Thompson

The Sack of Shelby

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