Showdown at Shepherd’s Bush by David Davis recounts the epic clash of an Irish-American, Italian, and Onondaga-Canadian that jump-started the first marathon mania and heralded the modern age in sports.
The eyes of the world watched as three runners – dirt poor Johnny Hayes who used to run barefoot through the streets of New York City; candymaker Dorando Pietri; and the famed Tom Longboat – converged for an epic battle at the 1908 London Olympics. The incredible finish was contested the world over when Pietri, who initially ran the wrong way upon entering the stadium at Shepherd’s Bush, finished first but was disqualified for receiving aid from officials after collapsing just shy of the finish line, thus giving the title to runner-up Hayes. In the midst of anti-American sentiment, Queen Alexandra awarded a special cup to Pietri, who became an international celebrity and inspired one of Irving Berlin’s first songs. David Davis recalls a time when runners braved injurious roads with slips of leather for shoes and when marathon mania became a worldwide obsession. (description from publisher)
In this celebration of three legendary champions on the centennial of their births in 1912, American Triumvirate by James Dodson explains the circumstances that made each of these players so singularly brilliant and how they, in turn, saved not only the professional tour but modern golf itself, thus making possible the subsequent popularity of players from Arnold Palmer to Tiger Woods.
During the Depression – after the exploits of Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen and Bobby Jones (winning the Grand Slam as an amateur in 1930) had faded in the public’s imagination – golf’s popularity fell year after year, and as a spectator sport it was on the verge of extinction. This was the unhappy prospect facing two dirt-poor boys from Texas and another from Virginia who had dedicated themselves to the game yet could look forward only to eking out a subsistence living along with millions of other Americans. But then lightning struck, and from the late thirties into the fifties these three men were so thoroughly dominant – each setting a host of records – that they transformed both how the game was played and how society regarded it.
Sports fans in general are well aware of Hogan and Nelson and Snead, but even the most devoted golfers will learn a great many new things about them here. Their hundredth birthdays will be commemorated throughout 2012 – Nelson born in February, Snead in May, and Hogan in August – but as this comprehensive and compelling account vividly demonstrates, they were, and will always remain, a triumvirate for the ages. (description from publisher)