Mr. Ham’s Overcoat

By Paul Hemphill The Atlanta Journal, 1970s The whole world is running off to Miami for the Christmas holidays. Look around and you will have cause to wonder why all of these cities and towns even bothered to string colored lights above their streets and put lighted...

The Champ and the Chump

By Murray Kempton The New Republic, March 7, 1964 Just before the bell for the seventh round, Cassius Clay got up to go about his job. Suddenly, he thrust his arms straight up in the air in the signal with which boxers are accustomed to treat victory and you laughed...

Eric Nesterenko and the Examined Life

By Bob Greene Chicago Sun-Times, 1972* Sometimes, late in the night, during those hours when you know there is no reason to stay out and yet something keeps you from heading for home and sleep, you will see him at the end of the bar. Always he will be alone, with his...

The Homecoming of Willie Mays

By Murray Kempton Esquire, October 1973 He was twenty when he began these voyagings, and he is supposed to have said then that this first trip around the league was like riding through a beautiful park and getting paid for it. Out of all those playgrounds, only...

Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff

By Red Smith New York Herald Tribune, October 4, 1951 Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible...

Memories Are Forever

By Todd Drew Bronx Banter, November 7, 2008 The memories will not stop. Sometimes they come in the middle of the night and you have to walk. So you head down five flights to Walton Avenue. You pass the spot on East 157th Street where a batboy once found Satchel Paige...