Frank Deford has been the sports commentator at NPR since 1980, appearing most Wednesday mornings. Altogether, he has presented more than 1600 commentaries, on virtually every subject in the sporting universe. Now, he’s chosen almost one hundred of his favorites for his latest book, I’d Know That Voice Anywhere.
When NPR approached him thirty-six years ago, Deford was known strictly for his work as a writer –– both at Sports Illustrated, where he was six times voted the nation’s Sportswriter of the Year, and for his books, like Everybody’s All-American. But he’d never worked in radio before NPR invited him to try his skills on the air. It turned out that he had a very distinctive voice, which is reflected in the title of this eclectic collection. As he writes about his voice in his charming Foreword: “Where did you get that?" People asked me, as if you could pick it up in an appliance store.
For this collection, Deford discusses the serious –– steroids and violence and the hypocrisy of amateurism –– along with all sorts of lighter topics. What is similar between Babe Ruth and Winnie the Pooh? Why are the Olympics like Groundhog Day? He even covers the Super Bowl as William Shakespeare would have. I’d Know That Voice Anywhere mixes nostalgia and controversy, heroes and villains, all in the distinctive manner that has made him America’s pre-eminent sports journalist.
In fact, Deford was honored by President Obama with the medal for the National Endowment for the Humanities for “transforming how we think about sports.” He is the only person primarily associated with sports ever to earn recognition from the National Endowment. He has also been presented with the Pen Lifetime Achievement Award for literary sporiswriting, the William Allen White Citation for excellence in journalism, and the Natinal Press Foundation has granted him its highest honor, the W.M. Kiplinger Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism. He has won both an Emmy and a George Foster Peabody Award. No other sports journalist has received so much acclaim for his work. Not only that, but he’s judged Miss America, played against the Harlem Globetrotters, wrestled a bear –– and more seriously, served as chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for sixteen years. The memoir he wrote about his daughter, Alexandra, who died of CF in 1980 at the age of eight –– Alex, The Life Of A Child –– is often cited as being as lovely a tribute as any father has ever written about his child.
I’d Know That Voice Anywhere –– My Favorite NPR Commentaries is Deford’s nineteenth book and illustrates his remarkable range as an observer of an institution, sport, which may be fun and games, but which has a special place in every culture in the world. Mixing wit, opinion and sophistication, Deford puts sports in perspective with a voice that is as distinct on the page as it is on the air.
Praise for Frank Deford:
“Deford . . . is the handsome, swashbuckling man of sports journalism. For fifty years, he has been issuing perhaps the greatest writing the realm has known.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“[Deford is] sports writing’s Sinatra.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Deford’s cred is incredible, his accolades deserved . . . [Deford] has long been the genuine article.”—Los Angeles Times
“Deford has seen it all, and boy, has he got stories.”—Dallas Morning News
“Thank heaven for Frank Deford.”—San Antonio Express-News
“One of the greatest writers of our time.”—Billie Jean King
“Frank Deford is the best sportswriter I’ve ever read . . . If there’s a Mount Rushmore of sportswriting, Deford is up there, purple ties and all.”—Tony Kornheiser
“Of all the magazine writers of the last half-century, Frank Deford holds a special place at the top . . . Not very bright, someone said of him long ago at Princeton, and it was true—he has been brilliant instead.”—David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered and Clemente
“Frank Deford writes the kind of sentences you find yourself rereading for the sheer pleasure of it.”—Jim Bouton, author of Ball Four
“Frank Deford is the best there is.”—Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights
“One of our best-loved and most gifted writers . . . A master storyteller.”—Jeremy Schaap, author of Cinderella Man and Triumph
“Frank Deford knows more baseball and writes with more graceful good humor than any man I know.”—Richard Ben Cramer, author of Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life, on The Old Ball Game
“One of our more melodious sportswriters . . . Deford writes with a cunning sparkle in his eye.”—Kirkus Reviews, on The Old Ball Game (starred review)
“A man whose talent is every bit the equal of the great athletes whose stories he’s revealed to us.”—Shelf Awareness
“Deford is the Holy Grail. He’s simply one of the greatest sportswriters of all time.”—Peter King, SI.com