SI Vault
 
Hark, Heroes!
Ron Fimrite
December 11, 1995
Readers in search of admirable athletes will find satisfaction in these works
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
December 11, 1995

Hark, Heroes!

Readers in search of admirable athletes will find satisfaction in these works

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

There are heroes and a smattering of villains as well in Diamond Dreams: Thirty Years of Baseball Through the Lens of Walter Iooss ( Little, Brown & Co., $40), with a text by the seemingly ubiquitous Boswell. This is a most beautiful collection of photographs, both in color and black and white, by one of the premier sports photographers of the past three decades. The vivid images range from the now classic shot of Yogi Berra with back to camera to another of Willie Stargell puzzling over a rubber chicken. There is a particularly affecting profile study of a contemplative Paul Molitor, chest hair spewing manfully from the collar of his uniform shirt. Boswell's commentary is often on the mark. He describes Steve Carlton as having an "Ubermensch superiority complex" and former Red Sox slugger Jim Rice as someone who might well have been "day in and day out...the most unpleasant man in baseball." But it is Iooss's artistry that gives this volume its enduring quality.

Jerry Jones, the turbulent proprietor of the Dallas Cowboys, hardly qualifies as a hero—certainly not in the eyes of his NFL colleagues, one of whom, San Francisco 49er president Carmen Policy, calls him a "snake oil salesman" in King of the Cowboys: The Life and Times of Jerry Jones by Dallas writer and broadcaster Jim Dent (Adams Publishing, $22). Dent characterizes his subject in often overheated prose as "an adrenaline-charged blur of a man" whose as yet unchecked ambition would drastically alter the NFL's time-honored revenue-sharing plan into a Cowboy-dominated enterprise and convert Texas Stadium into the centerpiece of a football theme park. Along the way, Jones has cashiered one coaching legend ( Tom Landry) and another in the making ( Jimmy Johnson), and has outraged both fans and former Cowboy players with his hard-hearted ticket policies. "I broke my neck for the Cowboys," laments former All-Pro safety Cliff Harris, "and I can't even get two tickets to home games."

Jones is also portrayed here as a boozer and womanizer of gargantuan appetites who, once his long workday is over, "flips off the office lights and heads for the bright lights," almost always without his truly long-suffering wife, Gene. Dent, in fact, tells how Jones caused talk among his already disapproving fellow owners by escorting a blonde to an NFL meeting, introducing her as his marketing director. But Dent does give the devil his due, actually more than his due, as "perhaps the most successful and recognizable sports owner in history," conveniently overlooking the likes of George Halas, Connie Mack and Walter O'Malley. There is, writes Dent, "no formula that can measure Jones. He may truly be without precedent. Only he knows where he's going...."

As far as his fellow owners are concerned, he can't get going too quickly or too far.

1 2