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-- Dr. Manuel Flores Guest columnist
Purvis’ sports series reaches greatness
The master of the
sports metaphor and simile is back in the saddle. And, this time, he has a hit a
dinger over the center field fence and the ball is still going.
author of the “Greatness Series” of sports memorabilia books, has surely
acquired legendary status with his new book “Shadows of Greatness: Keeping our
Sports Heroes Alive.” This sports fanatic is wellknown in coastal and South
Texas, but his prolific writing and talent surely transcend the regional aspects
of his success.
Greatness” is the seventh book in his “Greatness Series” of documenting sports
legends of days gone by and helping the reader re-live memories that were
crystallized over a lifetime of following sports and their heroes.
But this was no
desperation “Hail Mary” pass in the waning seconds of game.
well-researched and well-written book may be his best. Purvis chronicles the
lives of 54 former sports legends in crystal-clear vignettes of three to six
pages each. Similes and metaphors are sprinkled throughout the book to make the
reading as interesting as watching a comet fly through the clear Texas night
sky. But, more importantly, each description is unique to the character he is
writing about, giving the reader a true understanding of the life of a former
Among the athletes
covered in this book are Roger Bannister, “Master of the Mile”; Rusty Staub,
“The Big Orange”; Billy Cannon, “Always a Tiger”; Willie McCovey, “Gentle Giant”; King Kong Bundy, “The Walking Condominium”;
and George H.W. Bush, “Glove Man until the end.”
You get the
Even the titles of
the vignettes are interesting and full of mystery as to just what Purvis
uncovered about these heroes. It’s like listening in on family secrets.
include the essay on sports announcer Keith Jackson, he of the voice as mellow
as a field of Texas Bluebonnets on a spring morning. He titled this one
“Pert-Near Perfect.” “Whoa Nellie!” as Jackson used to say, that’s a good
My other favorite
was on Texas high school phenom Cedric Benson, who went on to star at the
University of Texas and as a pro.
Benson may be the
best high school running back ever in the Lone Star State, snagging “headlines
like he did touchdowns and always drawing more coverage than the Oscars” at
Midland Lee High School.
faster than bad news,” Purvis said. But it was not all rah-rah for the Lone Star
legend. His tragic death at the age of 37 is part of the story.
Purvis is more
than just a good sports writer; he is a master of nostalgia. With his “Greatness
Series” he has become the sports storyteller for the Baby Boomer generation, who
now lives for the memories.
Writes Purvis in
his Preface to “Shadows of Greatness, “Nostalgia is the art of remembering the
things we want to remember.”
Indeed, we see our
sports heroes in our dreams and Purvis’ writing helps jog the memory enough to
rekindle thoughts and experiences that may have been veiled behind a fog bank
coming in from the Gulf of Mexico.
For sale Now
“Keeping Our Heroes Alive”
also available for e-reader: