Reviews for Ty Cobb

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

We do not have a collegiate football champion; what we have are contenders. And any supporter of the Big Eight claimants--Oklahoma and Nebraska lately, but Kansas, Missouri, and Colorado sometimes--will want this book as evidence. McCallum makes the case that this conference is ""the most skilled, the best balanced conference in the country."" The reason? ""Out in the corn belt they grow them bigger, stronger, and tougher."" The character of the Big Eight was formed when Dana (DX) Bible came to Nebraska in 1929; ""the lip-smacking, scripture quoting son of a Latin and Greek scholar"" frowned on frills and taught solid fundamental football. But the team at the heart of the book is Oklahoma. And looming over Oklahoma is the figure of Bud Wilkinson. Winning 61 conference games between 1949 and 1959 (including 47 in a row), Wilkinson not only brought glory to Oklahoma, but says McCallum, he expunged the ""Okie"" inferiority complex. Wilkinson perfected the ethos of team spirit, emphasizing meticulous preparation, milk, greens, study, and sleep. (He admitted, though, that his teams didn't adjust too well to new situations.) In the Sixties the Big Eight ""came of age""--though, curiously, they won no national titles; in the Seventies Bob Devaney made Nebraska into a power with homegrown athletes and a crushing defense. After a season-by-season rundown of the major games from the early Thirties to 1978, McCallum provides a battery of rankings and other records. Since he moves quickly, younger fans may need some fill-in from their elders--but like his College Basketball, U.S.A. of last year, this is a sprightly account with a wealth of illustrations. Copyright ŠKirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Since setting up shop in 1894 as the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) has rewarded its rabid fans with an intensely competitive, consistently interesting, and invariably successful brand of football; indeed, the Conference can boast more top-ten teams, more all-American players, more bowl game winners, and more alumni in the pros than any rival circuit. McCallum's lively decade-by-decade chronicle of the SEC starts with a reprise of the recruiting scandals that prompted formation of the original SIAC and ends with a replay of 'Bama's championship season in 1979. In between, his line-up includes the likes of Johnny Mack Brown (in pre-Hollywood days, an accomplished halfback on Alabama's 1925 Rose Bowl team), Billy Cannon, Charley Conerly, Herman Hickman, Don Hutson (star of the 1934 Crimson Tide club on which Paul ""Bear"" Bryant was ""the other end""), Archie Manning, Joe Namath, Bart Start, Fran Tarkenton, Y. A. Tittle, and Charley Trippi. Also on hand are such legendary coaches as Bear Bryant, Wally Butts, Paul Dietzel, John Heisman, General Bob Neyland, and G. S. ""Pop"" Warner--plus LSU's number-one rooter, Huey Long. McCallum doesn't ignore the wider world either; he recounts, for instance, just how the Ivy League's decision to de-emphasize football in 1954 reverberated below the Mason-Dixon line. With lots of pictures and the won/lost record of every team still in the SEC, a snappy replay for armchair quarterbacks all around the country. Copyright ŠKirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Move over Babe, baseball's greatest all-around player and first Hall of Famer is once again alive and kicking with those sharpened spikes of his. Bom into a socially prominent Georgia family in 1886, Tyrus Raymond Cobb sharpened his batting eye in the cow pastures of Royston before setting out to prove his ability as a professional. A Detroit Tiger outfielder for 22 of his 24 years in the big leagues (1905-28), ""the Georgia Peach"" played in 3033 games in which he collected 4191 hits, scored 2244 runs, stole 892 bases, hit .367 lifetime, and won the American League batting title twelve times in a thirteen-year span (all untouchable records). A scrappy, turbulent ballplayer who battled himself most of all, ""Tyrus the Terrible"" is noted for ""a savage, bitter and weird personality"" which made him ""hated and feared, both on and off the field."" The feisty loner also had to contend with ""gi-im involuntary isolation"" from his teammates. Little known is the fact that Cobb was an alert businessman who made millions in the market. ""Cantankerous"" and wistful in his old age, he established the Cobb Educational Foundation in his native state before his death in 1961. An animated, sure-footed portrait of a crackerjack competitor. Copyright ŠKirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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