"Going Deep: 20 Classic Sports Stories"
Going Deep collects between the covers of a book a score of stories you probably threw out. Unless you are the sort of person who shares his or her home with thirty eight cats and saves everything, that’s what you do with magazines. You throw them out. Gary Smith’s stories originally appeared in Sports Illustrated, so they got dumped with all the stories that are not nearly as memorable or ambitious as Smith’s are. Books are more likely to hang around, so it’s a fine thing that these stories have been collected, because reading about Mia Hamm is no less enjoyable and enlightening just because Hamm has retired, and reading about Mark Fidrych is just as much fun now as it was when Smith wrote about him in 1986. Given that nobody like Fidrych has come along since he last pitched, maybe it’s even more fun. Numbers of people who write about sports and athletes manage to get beyond scores and championships, but very few of them bring to the challenge the curiosity and energy that characterize Gary Smith’s work. Numbers of people who write about games and the people who play them and watch them are worthy of the attention of readers who don’t care much for the sports but value power and grace in the use of language. If Gary Smith is not at the top of the list of those writers, he’s close.