Meet the best sportswriter of the twentieth century


The Poet

The Life and Los Angeles Times of Jim Murray

288 pages; 6" x 9" ; 20 B&W Photography; Appendixes; Bibliography; Index

$27.50   $22.00
Available: February 2013
Online ordering is unavailable at this time. Please call Longleaf Services at
1-800-848-6224 to place your order. We apologize for any inconvenience.


Forget Ring Lardner, Grantland Rice, and Jerome Holtzman. Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times was the single greatest sports columnist who ever lived—period. Known for his highly descriptive metaphors and phrasing—e.g., “a strike zone the size of Hitler’s heart”—Murray was a poet.

Time magazine sent the Connecticut native to Hollywood in 1948 to cover the movies. But it was at the Los Angeles Times (1961–1998) that Murray made his mark. The paper had experienced tremendous growth, and Murray had free rein to cover virtually any topic in his sports column. He defended pitcher Don Drysdale against accusations of poor sportsmanship, waxed rhapsodic about Willie Mays, and praised light-heavyweight champion Archie Moore as “the Rembrandt of boxing.” But Murray’s influence was greatest when he spoke out against segregated college football in the South. After being subjected to several of Murray’s public scoldings, the University of Alabama finally allowed Bear Bryant to erase the school’s long-standing color line.

Steven Travers provides an in-depth look at a man whose influence went far beyond the baseball diamond and the boxing ring.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)

STEVEN TRAVERS, a University of Southern California graduate and former professional baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Oakland A’s, is the author of twenty books, including the bestselling Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman (Sports Publishing, 2002), nominated for a Casey Award as Best Baseball Book of 2002; and One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game that Changed a Nation (Taylor Trade, 2007). A former prep sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, he lives in California and has one daughter, Elizabeth.


“Comedian Fred Allen said that California was a great place to live if you’re an orange. It also became a great place if you loved prose told by a man who knew, to paraphrase Churchill, that words are bullets the writer uses as ammunition. That man was Jim Murray. As Steven Travers recounts, Murray moved sports’ media center to the West Coast. He also moved beyond balls and strikes into business, politics, and culture, using language as beautifully as Jascha Heifetz played a violin.”—Curt Smith, author of Voices of the Game: The Acclaimed Chronicle of Baseball Radio and Television Broadcasting and Pull Up a Chair: The Vin Scully Story