Pat Jordan has remained a singularly interesting fixture on the sportswriting landscape since the initial publication, more than 30 years ago, of A False Spring, his searingly sad-and-honest memoir of his short-lived minor league pitching career. In the decades since Jordan has written prolifically, for a variety of publications and covering a variety of subjects. His style is by no means predictable, but if there is one thing Jordan’s work can be counted upon to do, it’s challenge his reader to think, to see a subject in a new perspective, if not always a comfortable perspective.
Jordan’s long career and sprawling diversity of subject matter can frustrate the attempt to sum him up, to comprehend the body of work. Fortunately a huge assist with that daunting task has now been provided, as The Best Sports Writing of Pat Jordan has recently been published. It’s a big hunk of a book, well over 400 hardbound pages, sampling nearly 30 of Jordan’s pieces, dealing not just with baseball but with a multiplicity of sports, and focusing not just on successful stars but also on struggling obscurities. This multifaceted complexity is in itself a window into Jordan’s particular approach: he takes no interest in simplifying, but instead often strives to engage and confront the very ambiguity, the difficulty, of sports, and indeed of wider and deeper life.
This anthology has been compiled by our good friend and THT alumnus Alex Belth, and it’s pulled off with his familiar adept touch and eye for detail. Indeed Alex contacted me as the book was being readied for publication, and asked if I might do a Q & A with Jordan and publish it on THT. I replied that that sounded like a really interesting idea—but when I received the book, I discovered that it already includes an extensive 15-page Q&A with Jordan conducted by Alex himself.
Sorry, Alex, I’m not nearly as skilled an interviewer as you are, and I could add nothing to what you’ve done.
For the longtime Jordan fan, this book will be a treasure. For the reader less familiar with Jordan’s work, there’s no better primer. And it’s more great stuff from Mr. Belth.