Esquire and Byliner Publish SPORTS: The Greatest Esquire Stories of All Time, Volume 3
June 4, 2013—New York and San Francisco— The greatest sports stories transcend sports. They are about risk and failure and craft, and the joy and wonder that come from watching a human being reach for grace. They are about us. Published today, Sports: The Greatest Esquire Stories of All Time, Volume 3 ($3.99)—an e-book collaboration between Esquire and the digital publisher Byliner—is the third volume of Esquire’s greatest stories, being published in honor of the magazine’s 80th anniversary in October.
Following Great Men, which featured essential profiles by Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe, and War, which included essential war reporting from John Sack and Michael Herr, Sports kicks off with David Foster Wallace’s whip-smart tennis masterpiece “The String Theory” (1996). It’s a story of obsession—regarding baseline play, unforced errors, and sweat mixed with hair gel. But it’s also about why at heart we are all like his subject, Michael Joyce—in the middle of the pack, struggling to reach the top. Next is “Gorgeous Dan,” by John Irving (1973), a beautiful and heartbreaking story about what it means to be the greatest wrestler of all time: you have to be perfect. It’s a pressure that another figure in this collection—Don Zimmer—knew all too well; Scott Raab’s profile of Zimmer, from 2001, is brimming with as much passion for baseball and life as its indomitable bald-headed subject.
Then there are the personalities who shape the world to their own talent and whim and raw power, like the boxer in W. C. Heinz’s classic “Young Fighter,” from 1955. Or racing legend Junior Johnson: There are enough roaring engines, moonshine, and exclamation points in Tom Wolfe’s 1965 classic “The Last American Hero Is Junior Johnson. Yes!” to power a million NASCAR races. Or the last truly great Yankee badass, Thurman Munson: Michael Paterniti’s wrenching, unforgettable story “The House That Thurman Munson Built” (1999) is as much about the end of childhood as it is about Munson’s tragic death, because our athletes are often what fuel our dreams of the impossible. And yet, as Luke Dittrich so deftly and beautifully shows in “Mutant” (2010), his profile of sprinter Usain Bolt, even the world’s fastest human, playing video games, eating Jamaican patties, dancing, and smiling, is very much one of us.
Finally, there’s Ted Williams, proof that ambition never dies. “What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?” (1986), by Richard Ben Cramer, may be quite simply the greatest sports story of all time, by one of America’s greatest journalists. There could not be a better representative of eighty years of sportswriting in Esquire. All of the stories in this superb collection are shot through with aspiration and fear, sweat and blood, and they say as much about our perpetual human quest for greatness as they do about our love of sports.
About Esquire: Esquire, published by Hearst Magazines, is the most-honored monthly magazine in America. Over the past 15 years, it has won a total of 16 National Magazine Awards. Its Web site and e-reader applications have been similarly honored—Esquire won the first-ever National Magazine Award for iPad applications. In addition to its U.S. flagship, Esquire publishes 26 editions around the world. Hearst Magazines is a unit of Hearst Corporation, one of the nation’s largest diversified media and information companies. With 20 titles in the U.S., Hearst is the leading publisher of monthly magazines in terms of total paid circulation (ABC 2012) and reaches 83 million adults (Fall 2012 MRI gfk). Follow Esquire on Twitter at @Esquiremag.
About Byliner: Byliner works directly with the world’s best writers to deliver great stories to readers. We publish original fiction and nonfiction by top authors, including bestsellers such as Amy Tan’s Rules for Virgins, Margaret Atwood’s Positron, Jon Krakauer’s Three Cups of Deceit, Ann Patchett’s The Getaway Car, Nick Hornby’s Everyone’s Reading Bastard, Buzz Bissinger’s After Friday Night Lights, Chuck Palahniuk’s Phoenix, Alexandra Fuller’s Falling, Richard Russo’s Nate in Venice, and Sebastian Junger’s A World Made of Blood. These stories are written to be read in two hours or less, and can be purchased individually through the major digital bookstores. The entire Byliner Originals library is available online to Byliner subscribers, who also get access to premium content from our by-invitation community of writers—including thousands of rarely seen and exclusive stories by bestselling authors.
Sports, along with Great Men and War, is available in the new Byliner Premium subscription reading service, or for $3.99 each at Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iBookstore, BarnesAndNoble.com, and Kobo. To read an excerpt, visit esquire.com/80stories or Byliner.com. For an Advance Reading Copy or to schedule an interview, please contact Clare Hertel at email@example.com, 505-474-6783; or Stephanie Tuck at Stephanie_Tuck@dkcnews.com, 212-981-5170.