WSJ Piece Has 20-20 Heinz Sight

The hardworking staff is a longtime fanboy of the great W.C. Heinz – a superb WWII war correspondent and perhaps the greatest American sportswriter of the 20th Century (not to mention the co-author of M*A*S*H).

(Our WGBH Heinz obit here.)

Now comes this Nathan Ward piece from the Weekend Wall Street Journal.

‘You Find the Best Stories in the Loser’s Dressing Room’

‘I can tell you’ve been at the gym,” Betty Heinz used to tell her sportswriter husband when he came home from a day with the New York fight crowd at Stillman’s Gym. He spoke differently after a few hours absorbing their stories and cadences for his BN-GV757_edpWar_P_20150206145332writing. Bill Heinz, who died in 2008, was a master of precise talk and low-key poignancy. He once said, “You find the best stories in the loser’s dressing room.”

This year marks the centenary of Heinz’s birth (Jan. 11), and the Library of America is marking the occasion by publishing “The Top of His Game: The Best Sportswriting of W.C. Heinz, ” edited by Bill Littlefield. Read straight through, the collection shows how, as Gay Talese has noted elsewhere, “Bill Heinz set literary standards in the world of games.”

That would be Bill Littlefield of local and Only A Game fame.

Ward’s piece also mentions Heinz’s Death of a Racehorse (via Alex Belth’s Bronx Banter), which has “often been called one of the greatest sports columns ever published,” and features the classic Ernest Hemingway telegram about Heinz’s boxing novel, The Professional.


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Our favorite Bill Heinz quote, from an interview we were lucky enough to get with him in 2006.

[A]lthough I’m a great admirer of football and what it brings, I’m a great admirer of team sports, there’s always somebody else you can lay it off on and you can’t lay it off in a fight.


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