Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Author David Halberstam Dies at 73 [J. Mark English]

When I started this sports blog a year ago I knew that its strength would not be built upon my own writing skills. I never went to a journalist school, or even excelled in my English classes in college. Despite my last name, English is not my area of expertise. Reading the sports sections of great papers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post has given me a much fonder appreciation of the writings these papers produce. The way they can take a moment in sports, and put it into a context that can soften the blow of a loss, and raise the thrill of victory. They allow reflection, and deeper meaning to the sports we follow fanatically. The great writers such as Murray Chase, or Thomas Boswell, allow us to take a step back and look at sports with a deeper awareness.

David Halberstam was such a writer. Some of his better known books that he wrote were The Breaks of the Game, Summer of '49, Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World he Made, Bill Bellichick: The Education of a Coach.

Sadly, yesterday the life of David Halberstam came to an end in a car accident. Below is his obituary from the New York Times:

David Halberstam, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who chronicled the Vietnam War generation, civil rights and the world of sports, was killed in a car crash Monday, his wife and local authorities said. He was 73.

Halberstam, of New York, was a passenger in a car that was broadsided by another vehicle in Menlo Park, south of San Francisco, San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said. The cause of death appeared to be internal injuries, he said.

The accident occurred around 10:30 a.m., and Halberstam was declared dead at the scene, Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

The driver of the car carrying Halberstam and the person driving the car that crashed into his were injured, but not seriously.

Halberstam was being driven by a graduate journalism student from the University of California, Berkeley, which had hosted a speech by the author Saturday night about journalism and what it means to turn reporting into a work of history. They were headed to an interview he had scheduled with Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle.

Halberstam was working on a book, ''The Game,'' about the 1958 NFL championship between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants, often called the greatest game ever played, said his wife, Jean Halberstam.

She said she would remember him most for his ''unending, bottomless generosity to young journalists.''

''For someone who obviously was so competitive with himself, the generosity with other writers was incredible,'' she said.

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