An outfit in Mill Valley, Calif. called Tarquin Books has come out with a paperback that will be of more than passing interest to readers of this magazine. Its title is Way To Go! and its author is Ron Fimrite, a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED senior writer noted for his imaginative baseball reportage and his sensitive feature articles. Way to Go! is a collection of 29 of Fimrite's pieces, and for his fans—count me most fervently in their number—it is obligatory reading.
Before he joined SI, Fimrite was a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. The pieces in this book draw upon both publications. They are interwoven, Chronicle columns alternating with longer SI stories. The book is built around the theme summed up in its subtitle: "A Chronicle of Heroes and Legends of Bay Area Sports." Fortunately, there is so much going on in San Francisco and environs that the book will appeal to readers everywhere.
Fimrite does many things very well, but nothing better than profiles. Himself a wit and bon vivant of considerable reputation, he is drawn to "the romantic figure, the gallant loner"; he sums up the quintessential Fimrite character in describing Max Baer as seeming, "like Sabatini's Scaramouche, to have been 'born with the gift of laughter and the sense that the world was mad.' "
Way to Go! is populated with just such people: Hank Luisetti and Clark Shaughnessy, loners who forever changed the nature of their sports; Reggie Jackson and O. J. Simpson, born to stand apart from the crowd; Jackie Jensen, fated lo navel through a private hell before finding happiness; and—in one of the finest pieces Fimrite has written—Willie McCovey, who "embodies the ancient virtues of love and loyalty" and "recalls simpler times, older sentiments."
Indeed, affection for those old and durable values is a theme that marks Fimrite's work. His pieces transcend the immediate sensations of sport to celebrate those who, like McCovey and Jensen, have made something honorable and precious out of their careers. Like all the best sportswriters, Fimrite knows that there is more to fun and games than who won or lost.
The book may be hard to find outside the Bay Area. It can be ordered, for $4.95, from Tarquin Books al 530 Northern Avenue, Mill Valley, Calif. 94941. That is $4.95 very well spent.