Muhammad Ali stretched out on a brown couch, a towel across his waist, while an air conditioner fired cool air across his body. It was a scorching Manila morning, and in thirty minutes Ali would go to war with Joe Frazier for the third and final time. Ali yawned and stared at the ceiling of his dressing room. "Just another day's work," he said. "Just gotta go beat on another man." The reporter did what a reporter is supposed to do. He listened and wrote down Ali's words.
And so began just another day's work for Dick Schaap, who in the past half-century has carved out his own legend, not with his fists but with his reportorial verve, his indefatigable curiosity, and his irrepressible wit. Now, in Flashing Before My Eyes, the longtime ABC correspondent and host of ESPN"s The Sports Reporters recounts a charmed career in which he has met almost everyone and seen almost everything. He has played golf with Bill Clinton, tennis with Bobby Fischer, cards with Wilt Chamberlain. He has written books with Joe Namath and Joe Montana. He has taken Brigitte Bardot to dinner and Lenny Bruce to a World Series. He saw the Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants in sudden-death overtime, and the Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys in the Ice Bowl. He saw Bill Mazeroski end a World Series with a home run, and Willis Reed lift the New York Knicks to an NBA title. He has covered murders and riots, presidential campaigns and Broadway openings. He introduced Muhammad Ali to Billy Crystal, and Billy Crystal to Joe DiMaggio. He walks with sluggers and senators, cops and comedians, authors and actresses, and he shares the sights he sees and the words he hears in stories that make you laugh and cry.
With an introduction by Tuesdays with Morrie author Mitch Albom, Schaap's memoir gives the reader the ultimate highlight reel of the last fifty years and makes a compelling case that if Dick Schaap wasn't there to see it, it didn't happen.
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Dick Schaap, it seems, knows everyone. He would easily win at Six Degrees of Separation. Heck, he would win at Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. As a matter of fact, he probably golfs with Kevin Bacon. I wouldn't be surprised, since Schaap has golfed with Bill Clinton and played doubles tennis against Johnny Carson, and he regularly dines with Billy Crystal. Oh, and Muhammad Ali is one of his oldest friends. But Schaap is also a guy who remembers his teammates on the Freeport Barons (winners of the New York State Kiwanis League Championship '49 and '50) in fond and humorous detail. It is his true love for and fascination with people that make Flashing Before My Eyes such a delight to read.
Born in Brooklyn, Schaap was a smart kid with an outsized love for the Dodgers. By the age of 15 he was a sports reporter for the Nassau Daily Review-Star, where he worked under 20-year-old Jimmy Breslin, who became a lifelong friend. From there Schaap moved on to Cornell University and then to Newsweek, where he learned to write "short and tight. The end of the world? Give me eight hundred words. The end of the World Series. Maybe five hundred." With more than 50 years in journalism, over 30 books to his name, and five Emmys, there's no debating that Schaap is a storyteller extraordinaire. Page after page of Flashing Before My Eyes rolls by as you snort and chortle at Schaap's stories (and sometimes Schaap himself; he doesn't spare the pen), but then he slides in a moment that makes you tear up. Mitch Albom, who wrote the introduction, says of Schaap, "His cross-referencing would put Microsoft Access to shame. You can say to Dick, 'Pass the ketchup,' and he will reply, 'Did I ever tell you about Bobby 'Catch-Up' Johnson, the one-legged soccer player I met in Belgium?'" Schaap on sports, Schaap on comedy, Schaap on politics--these we've enjoyed for years. Now relish Schaap on Schaap. --Dana Van NestAbout the Author:
Dick Schaap is the author of more than thirty books, including the New York Times bestsellers Instant Replay (with Jerry Kramer) and Bo Knows Bo (with Bo Jackson). Host of ESPN's The Sports Reporters and ESPN Classic's One on One and theater critic for ABC's World News Now, he has won six Emmy Awards. He is the only man who votes for both the Heisman Trophy and the Tony Awards.
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