One of the most fundamental attractions of sports are the personalities
that get involved in the various games. In a very basic way, the endeavor of professional
sport reduces all men to competing on terms of natural equality. A white second baseman
from the Deep South can turn the double play with a black shortstop, and both men gain an
understanding and a mutual respect new to both of them. A shy country hick like Mickey
Mantle can become fast friends with a slick city sharpie like Whitey Ford, though the two
might have never met were their talents not joined on the Yankee team.
Avid sports fans obtain rich enjoyment from the differentness of their
athletic heroes. Devotees of the great New York Knickerbocker basketball team of 1969-73
delighted in the fact that the stars were so different in temperament and background: the
muscular stockbroker DeBusschere, the stylish black clotheshorse Frazier, the studious
Rhodes Scholar Bradley, the Louisiana country boy Reed. Yet all these men, once on the
court, blended into a single, smoothly functioning unit of precision and intelligence.
The history of sports includes a great number of striking figures and
unusual personalities, several notable for standing out in their chosen world. Gene Tunney