TEXANA READS: Purvis brings sports legends -- and those who should be -- to life
Dr. Manuel FloresTexana Reads
If you read Corpus Christi author Andy Purvis’ last book – “Legends of Greatness” – you may find yourself drifting away in a land of dreams, legends and sports folklore.
If you stop and listen, listen closely, you may hear the voice of an old sportswriter spinning a tale or two. You will be fascinated, intrigued, and moved.
You may as well be sitting at a dimly lit bar with a lone light fixture beaming life into the book you are holding, or you may be at a backyard barbecue where Ol’ Uncle Andy is holding court and spinning stories like only he can.
Uncle Andy is the moniker Andy Purvis has adopted because of his local radio show fame and the readings he is invited to present for various community organizations, clubs or restaurants. But, it is in his writing, his books, where he is truly in character. This is where the persona of “Uncle Andy” comes to life.
Listen. Listen carefully, as you read. You may learn something about sports and a lot about life.
Purvis has made it his life’s work to compile stories of sports legends who have left us. His eighth book in what is now been dubbed the Greatness series is as remarkable as his first seven. While his previous works have centered on sports personalities that many of us in the Boomer generation came to love and others learned about because of their celebrity status, his latest book is more about those whose careers may have gone unnoticed in spite of their “greatness.”
This is what makes this eighth version of the Greatness series, well, great.
Purvis, known as the “master of the metaphor,” pulls no punches here. The book was hard work sprinkled with 60 vignettes on sports personalities. The 60 short stories and essays are meticulously researched and superbly written. Each stands on its own and all will keep your interest to the end.
Like in his other works, Uncle Andy awakens the sports personalities and, if you remember them, pictures of their greatness will flow through the echoes of your mind. The words you are reading seem to mingle with reality as if in a time capsule being opened after a long hiatus. The words pause to rest on your fingertips as you cradle the book that has brought their memories to life.
While in past books you read about greats like Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Bart Starr and Tom Landy, to mention a few, here you will learn about the lives of greats like Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, Jimmy “The Toy Cannon” Wynn, Tom Dempsey, Mary Pratt, Phyllis “Miss America” George, Bobby Joe “The San Benito Bullet” Morrow, and many more. All have recently passed away and Uncle Andy is making sure they will not fade away from our memories soon.
Uncle Andy’s stories will, as he says, liberate us from the past. It will free us, if only for a moment, from the reality that these athletes, many of them heroes of our childhood, are no longer with us. It will shine the light on who they were and why they lived and why they are not ready, not yet, to be forgotten.
Listen to Uncle Andy talk about “Hopalong” Cassady, a Heisman Trophy winner for Ohio State University. “. . .(H)e was built like a deck of cards. He was so sturdy you could park a bicycle on his shoulders.”
Andy is plain ol’ down to Earth with his descriptions. Don Larsen, who as a New York Yankees pitcher gained fame for throwing a no-hitter in the 1956 World Series, was not a good-looking man, Uncle Andy acknowledges. When he was young “his ears were so big you could catch cablevision.”
About Jimmy “The Toy Cannon” Wynn, an indomitable slugger for the Houston Astros when they played at the cavernous Astrodome, Uncle Andy said he was “so short (5-foot-9) people would ask him to pick things up when they dropped them.”
But make no mistake about the author’s feelings. Uncle Andy respects the people he writes about and he talks of them with a reverence reserved for a state funeral. Each essay is like a eulogy sending each former athlete into the gridiron, court or diamond in the sky with a sense of gratefulness and pride. With each word Uncle Andy is saying “thank you” and acknowledging these athletes or sports celebrities will not soon be forgotten.
Andy “Uncle Andy” Purvis has done his part by writing another spectacular book in his series on great athletes who have passed away and left us nothing but memories.
Now, do your part by delving into the land of dreams, legends, and sports folklore courtesy of Uncle Andy Purvis.
About the book
“Legends of Greatness: Untold Stories of Passed Sports Icons”
By Andy Purvis
Xulon Press, Maitland, Fla. (2021)
Pbk 450 pages
Available at: target.com $36.99; amazon.com Kindle $9.99, hardcover $36.99, pbk $18.74; barnesandnoble.com or Barnes and Noble Bookstores pbk $24.99; also Facebook: purvisbooks.
About the author
Andy Purvis is a long-time sports enthusiast and writer. He has written eight books on sports personalities and possesses a wealth of knowledge of sporting events and sports celebrities. His is also a long-time radio personality hosting shows for more than 25 years now and serving as a prominent returning guest. Most recently he has been a regular with SportsRadioCC on KSIX 1230 AM, 95.1FM, in Corpus Christi on the PudgeNation Show. He can be contacted at purvisbook.com.