No Contest

By Jeffrey Page

Lately, some Zest writers have been discussing sports writing in general and the work of Jimmy Cannon in particular and, as a result, we decided to have a contest for our readers. Actually, it’s not much of a contest. We’re just asking you to join the discussion with some observations about your favorite sportswriters – the poets of journalism.
Before I give you the details of the competition, let me weigh in with my own recollections of Jimmy Cannon.

When Zesters Bob Gaydos and Mike Kaufman were talking about him, I had a twitch of memory, something about an ahead-of-his-time description of the most famous Yankee of them all. I finally found it in a dusty old collection of Cannon’s columns. “Babe Ruth,” he wrote, “was more than a man. He was a parade all by himself, a burst of dazzle and jingle, Santa Claus drinking his whiskey straight and groaning with a bellyache caused by gluttony.”

Here he is on what baseball is: “Baseball isn’t rich men whining publicly about how much baseball costs them. It is Willie Mays running with that rocking gait, his back to home plate, as he chases down a fly ball hit over his head. It is the multitude at Shea Stadium shrieking ‘Let’s go Mets’ with two out in the ninth and five runs down. This is baseball, where every day is another season.”

He wrote about all sports and may have been his best on boxing. He wrote: “Once again today they’re trying to figure out Floyd Patterson. They wonder why he bleeds for small money when he is a rich man. It is all behind him, and the barbaric traditions of the fight racket always offended him. But he borrowed a left hook to the body from the shylock of the past and knocked out Charlie Green Tuesday night in the tenth and final round of a clumsy and boring fight.”

All right, think of your favorite writers working today or the ones you read when you were a kid. Tell us who you like and if there’s a line in their work you found so perfectly written, breathtakingly insightful that you committed it to memory. Drop me a line at the address below and be the envy of your friends with a mention in Zest of Orange.

In this contest, everybody wins.

Jeffrey can be reached at

One Response to “No Contest”

  1. Michael Says:

    Great quotes from Jimmy Cannon…I can’t think of anyone around now who is that good…But I like Dave Zirin’s writing in The Nation…Robert Lipsyte used to get me thinking a lot when he wrote for the Times.

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