Mark Tracy and Franklin Foer edited Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame, a collection of biographical accounts of the lives and careers of successful Jewish athletes. These stories, as told by writers with film, news, and editorial backgrounds, offer insight into the history of notable Jewish sports personalities. Bill Littlefield spoke with Tracy and Foer, along with two contributors to the book.
Bill’s thoughts on Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame
Hank Greenberg, who was Jewish, was a great hitter. Sandy Koufax, who is Jewish, was a terrific pitcher. Nobody will be surprised to learn that both of them are included in Jewish Jocks, a collection of essays about, um, Jewish jocks.
Howard Cosell is in the book, too. A recent biography of him suggests that Cosell exaggerated his athletic prowess. A lot. His inclusion in the book is defensible because the guy who wrote the essay about Cosell is David Remnick, a fine writer.
Some of the people who wrote the essays in Jewish Jocks are professionally acquainted with sports. L. Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated wrote about golfer Corey Pavin; Buzz Bissinger, who wrote Friday Night Lights, chronicled boxer Barney Ross. But part of the fun of this book is the inclusion of essays by novelists (Jonathan Safran Foer), columnists (David Brooks), and authors such as Todd Gitlin. Mr. Gitlin has written 15 books, none of them, as far as I can tell, having anything to do with sports.
Since Jewish Jocks appeared, the editors, Franklin Foer and Marc Tracy, have been told by many people that the book does not include various worthy Jewish athletes. This fails to dismay Mr. Foer and Mr. Tracy, who have informed their publishers that they have no objection to producing Jewish Jocks: The Sequel.