Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
To Absent Friends
from Red Smith
by Red Smith, NY: Atheneum 1982
Reviewed by Dick McGowan
A journalist friend told me: "In the old
days, sportswriters trained to write news but couldn't break into
the important writing of the newsroom. That's why those old
sportswriters were so good." A perfect example of my friend's
observation is Red Smith.
The Pulitzer prize-winning sportswriter worked his way from
reporter, to copy writer and sportswriter for various newspapers to
the premier sports columnist for the New York
Times. To Absent Friends is the
compilation of the columns he wrote as affectionate farewells to
those in sports. Sports enthusiasts will love the book, but
so will anyone interested in good writing and character
Here, for instance, are the opening lines of a column: "Just
about everything worth saying about Sam Langford has been said, in
the record books and the obituaries and the sports columns and on
the editorial pages. A lot of it is true and no doubt some of
it is important." For those who don't know, before Joe Louis,
there was Sam Langford, both victim and victor of racism. Red
Smith needed only nine paragraphs to capture the history of the day
and the triumphant character of the man.
Some columns may be timepieces to us, living in a different era.
However, many well-known figures-Babe Ruth, Joe Louis, Vince
Lombardi-populate the book's pages. Smith provides insight
into them all, with stories happy and sad.
Red Smith misses his friends and the sports pages miss Red
- Dick McGowan is an instructor in the College of Business at