Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Over Time

My Life as a Sportswriter

by Frank Deford

“Equal doses of self-deprecating humor and anecdotal history of American sports journalism are the essence of Frank Deford’s entertaining new memoir.” —Chicago Tribune

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 368
  • Publication Date May 14, 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4606-9
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00

About The Book

Frank Deford’s splendid memoir Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter received critical acclaim and media attention on hardcover publication.

In Over Time, Deford chronicles the heroes and the characters of just about every sport in nearly every medium. Deford joined Sports Illustrated in 1962, fresh out of Princeton. They called him the Kid, and he made his name discovering fellow Princetonian Bill Bradley and a Canadian teenager name Bobby Orr. These were the Mad Men-like 1960s, and Deford recounts not just the expense account shenanigans and the antiquated racial and sexual mores, but the professional camaraderie and the friendships with athletes and coaches during the “bush” years of the early NBA.

Interwoven through his personal history, Deford lovingly traces the entire arc of American sportswriting from the lurid early days of the Police Gazette, through Grantland Rice and Red Smith and on up to ESPN. This is a wonderful, inspired book—equal parts funny and touching—a treasure for sports fans. Just like Frank Deford.

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“Endearing . . . Over Time imparts a sense of a life well lived and fully enjoyed.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Equal doses of self-deprecating humor and anecdotal history of American sports journalism are the essence of Frank Deford’s entertaining new memoir.” —Fred Mitchell, Chicago Tribune

“Deford . . . is the handsome, swashbuckling man of sports journalism. For 50 years, he has been issuing perhaps the greatest writing the realm has known.” —Rick Telander, Chicago Sun-Times

“Leisurely, humorous and genteel . . . [Deford’s] sharp insights [on NPR] and his graceful way with words delight listeners, even those who are hardly devotees of the sports pages. Those same listeners can find the same grace and insights in Over Time. Reading [it] is like sitting in a bar near the ballpark after deadline has passed and listening to the sportswriters try to one-up each other with stories about good games and bad actors.” —Harry Levins, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Is there anyone who writes about sports with more elegance? Is there anyone who writes about sports with more humor, insight, and a style all his own? Nope. Frank Deford is the best there is. His memoir Over Time is beautiful, funny, poignant and poetic. It is a privilege to say these words about him.” —Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights and Father’s Day

“For many of us in the business, Frank Deford is the Holy Grail. He’s simply one of the greatest sportswriters of all time. If he’s the New York Yankees, I’m honored to be the Double-A Trenton Thunder. Just to play the same sport as Deford is something wonderful. His memoir has a little bit of everything—great stories about interviewing everyone from Richard Nixon . . . to Jerry Jones. . . . Deford played with the Harlem Globetrotters, introduced the world to Bill Bradley, really disliked Rodney Dangerfield, edited the only national sports daily in our history (The National), and has great takes on the history and characters of Sports Illustrated in its formative years. . . . Deford’s the best.” —Peter King, SI.com

“He sketches insightful remembrances of stars like Wilt Chamberlain and Billie Jean King and lavishes affection and admiration on Sports Illustrated colleagues Andre Laguerre, Dan Jenkins, and the ‘tortured’ writer Mark Kram . . . [Deford is] sports writing’s Sinatra.” —Jay Jennings, San Francisco Chronicle

“A whimsically titillating and ruthlessly self-deprecating memoir.” —Mike Seely, Seattle Weekly

“A cool ride through Deford’s career.” —Larry Fortner, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Loaded with interesting, funny anecdotes.” —Randall Beach, New Haven Register

“Wonderful . . . [Deford is] the gold standard for modern sportswriting.” —Frank Murtaugh, Memphis Flyer

“At 73, Benjamin Franklin Deford III has seen it all, and boy, has he got stories. . . . In a typical chapter, Deford starts out to tell us about a big shot like his fellow Princetonian, the NBA star and later senator Bill Bradley, but he neatly segues into the heartbreaking story of the almost unknown Danny Sachs, an undersized Princeton football star of the ’60s who died of cancer at 28.” —Chris Tucker, Dallas Morning News

“In Over Time, Deford recounts his journey from callow fact checker to award-winning journalist. En route, he follows his personal dictum that ‘memoirs should be filled with anecdotes about other, more attractive people.’ He supplies plenty. Through 46 brief, episodic chapters, Deford offers insightful, hilarious and occasionally scathing portraits of athletes, coaches, editors and fellow scribes. . . . ‘No cheering in the press box’ is an old saying among sportswriters, but, after finishing this delightful book, readers will want to stand and applaud.” —Alan Cate, Cleveland Plain Dealer

“[A] wildly entertaining and informative memoir.” —Wes Lukowsky, Booklist (starred review)

“Glowing with intelligence, warmth, wit and charm, Frank Deford’s Over Time is an irresistible account of the life and times of one of our best-loved and most gifted writers. Like all of Deford’s work, it is distinguished by startlingly original insights and keen reporting—and, above all else, imbued with its author’s profound sense of humanity. Here is a master storyteller finally sharing all of his best stories.” —Jeremy Schaap, author of Cinderella Man: James J. Braddock, Max Baer and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History and Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics

“[Deford’s] candid, often self-deprecating memoir . . . has the flavor of a congenial evening spent hanging out at one of the Manhattan watering holes he frequented with his SI colleagues in the ’60s and ’70s. . . . As free of illusion as it is rich with wit and insight, Frank Deford’s memoir reveals the life of a man whose talent is every bit the equal of the great athletes whose stories he’s revealed to us.” —Harvey Freedenberg, Shelf Awareness

“A wonderful book. Over Time is both a treasure and a treasury. Deford give us a charming memoir and a wonderful tour of great American sports literature—the best of which he himself has written.” —Sally Jenkins, Washington Post columnist and author of It’s Not About the Bike

“Of all the magazine writers of the last half-century, Frank Deford holds a special place at the top. His memoir Over Time, like hundreds of his stories, is fluid, graceful, deeply reported, insightful and whimsical all at the same time. Not very bright, someone said of him long ago at Princeton, and it was true—he has been brilliant, instead.” —David Maraniss

“Frank Deford is the best sportswriter I’ve ever read. His profiles at Sports illustrated were magic. I wanted to write like him, and the sad part for me was that I knew he was playing in a higher league. If there’s a Mount Rushmore of sportswriting, Deford is up there, purple ties and all.” —Tony Kornheiser

“Is there anyone who writes about sports with more elegance? Is there anyone who writes about sports with more humor, insight, and a style all his own? Nope. Frank Deford is the best there is. His memoir Over Time is beautiful, funny, poignant and poetic. It is a privilege to say these words about him.” —Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights and Father’s Day

“For half a century, Frank Deford has been writing and talking about sports, and this chatty book, a memoir of his early and later years, recounts a life of pleasure and accomplishment . . . He writes with warmth and wit about the world of sports . . . On occasion, it is a laugh-out-loud book . . . enlivened by stories about some of his favorite athletes—Bill Russell and Bobby Orr, Bill Bradley and Larry Bird.” —Lincoln Journal Star

“The mixture of homage to sportswriters who came before him, such as Grantland Rice; sometimes wistful vignettes of sports figures like Arthur Ashe; and his own personal reflections on the evolution of sports journalism combine to offer a cultural perspective that transcends a mere job.” —Publishers Weekly (Top 10 in Sport)

“Guys like Deford need to be read . . . Some of the best of Over Time is inside baseball from the heyday of the magazine trade, characterized by long lunches, longer cocktail hours and much admirable creative writing when it comes to accounting for expenses.” —Washington Independent Review of Books

“He writes with brio, dash, and without pretension . . . when he harks back to a better time, he doesn’t sound like a fogy or a snob, but beguilingly evocative. . . . The sports pages have been a nursery and a parish of terrific writing: Red Smith and Jimmy Cannon, yes, but also Ring Lardner, Westbrook Pegler, Damon Runyon, Paul Gallico, and James Reston, who all cut their teeth in the sports section. Deford sits comfortably in that company, summoning the poetry and rapture.” —Peter Lewis, Barnes & Noble Review


Finalist for the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing


The Golden Age of Sports has always been ballyhooed, but I’m convinced that the Golden Age of Writing About Sports began just about the time that I, as The Kid, providentially entered the lists. . . .

Back in the sixties, the NBA didn’t even have a national television contract, but during the playoff finals, for the Sunday afternoon games, one of the networks would show up, cherrypicking on the cheap. So it was, that when the Celtics beat the Lakers again to win another championship, a little production assistant rushed down onto the court and buttonholed Red Auerbach.

I had already left my seat at the courtside press table and was standing there with Auerbach, as he brandished his victory cigar for the crowd. Breathlessly, the TV boy asked Red to come up to the television booth immediately. Red looked down on the kid, and disdain filled his face. “Where were you in February?” he asked, waving him off with his cigar.

The little fellow was speechless, totally discombobulated.

“I said,” Red went on, more stridently: “Where the f*** were you in February?” Then, gloriously, he threw his other arm around me. “I’m going with my writers,” he declared, and we marched off the court that way, Red and me, together.

It was the last hurrah for the press. After that, it was the media.