SI Vault
Edited by Jerry Kirshenbaum
March 29, 1993
Village People
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March 29, 1993


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?Webster's Ninth New Collegiate. The 6,000 bio entries include only a smattering of jocks, with but one football player, Jim Thorpe. Joe DiMaggio is a keeper, but Willie Mays and Ted Williams are outcasts. The British poet Wilfred Owen gels a nod; Jesse Owens is cold-shouldered.

The puzzle is that dictionary makers, usually such paragons of precision, are so sloppy when it comes to sports biographies. Selection of sports entries is "not that scientific," says Paul Evenson, an associate editor at Houghton Mifflin, publisher of The American Heritage Dictionary. But a new edition of that work is due out in June, and Evenson promises that at least some of the sins in the current volume, published in 1985, will be corrected. Certainly the American Heritage sports pantheon could be less New York-oriented. The Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1940s and '50s alone have six entries in the '85 edition—Gil Hodges. Sandy Koufax, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, manager Leo Durocher and general manager Branch Rickey—and 10 of the other 20 baseball figures also have New York connections.

Evenson says that compilers will be busy with revision-right up to press time.

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