John UnderwoodA hilarious tale of a fishing trip in Florida with Ted Williams, a stylish writer for Sports Illustrated for nearly a quarter of a century and a Baseball Hall of Famer, led to two critically acclaimed book collaborations. , died at his home in Miami on April 12. he was 88 years old.
His wife, Donna Underwood, confirmed the death but did not give a specific cause.
Mr. Underwood joined Sports Illustrated in 1961 during the magazine’s decades-long heyday, alongside other star writers such as Frank Deford, Mark Crumb, Dan Jenkins, Roy Brandt Jr., Jack Olsen and William Knack. I kept working.
He specialized in college football, including its shady side, but also wrote about the impact of boxing, golf, baseball, professional football, and gambling on sports, players, and fans. In 1982, he was the ghostwriter of former NFL player Don’s article on Reese, which appeared on Mr. Reese’s byline, revealing that he and many other players had used cocaine. . According to the article, the drug “currently dominates and corrupts the game with so many players in it.”
Mr. Underwood forged a connection with Ted Williams When I fished for tarpon off the Florida Keys in 1967Williams was one of the greatest players in baseball, the last man to hit a .400 in the major leagues, and an accomplished fisherman who had retired from baseball for seven years at the time.
Underwood writes, “He brought to fishing the same discerning intensity he brought to baseball batting, the boundless capacity for scientific inquiry.”
Regarding Williams’ actions, he added: Saw. As Williams played, moved, reeled, and kept the tarpon under pressure, the tarpon jumped seven times and soared beautifully. He was constantly giving us directions, telling us what he was doing and advising Charlie when to shoot and what lens aperture to use. ”
Their friendship during the trip prompted Mr. Underwood to ask Mr. Williams if he would agree to have Mr. Underwood help write his autobiography at the suggestion of the editor of Sports Illustrated. The project began as a five-part magazine series and evolved into the New York Times bestselling book My Turn at Bat: The Story of My Life (1969).
Then, in 1971, “The Science of Hitting” was published and became the bible for many major leaguers, including multiple batting champions Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs. 2002, Sports Illustrated ranked it at number 86 on their list. Top 100 sportsbooks of all time.
In the foreword to “The Science of Hitting,” Underwood explained his passion for the illustration of the strike zone envisioned by Williams. A ball in each of those areas. He said he would supply the numbers himself.
The two books with Mr. Williams were the first collaboration between Mr. Underwood and the sports insider. He wrote his autobiography in 1974, working with Bear Bryant, the University of Alabama football coach of his team’s fame. His father and son his NFL quarterbacks, Archie and Peyton Manning (2000).
Critic Jonathan Yardley, Contributing to the Miami Herald He praised him for persuading him to “speak freely and, in so doing, perhaps reveal himself.” more than he intended. ”
John Warren Underwood was born on November 25, 1934 in Miami to Edward Underwood and Sarah Kathryn (Russell) Underwood. His father is the captain of a sightseeing boat, and his mother is a housewife. During his high school years, John began writing regularly for the Miami News, becoming a staff his writer for the Herald while studying English at the University of Miami. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 1956, and five years later he remained at The Herald until he moved to Sports Illustrated.
While at the magazine, he also wrote the book Death of the American Game: The Crisis of Football (1979). How much money and television have taken away the fun of professional sports.
“I wanted to say I lost my taste for this sport, but I didn’t,” he wrote. “It was taken from me, from all of us.”
He left Sports Illustrated in 1985 to become a full-time freelancer. As he wrote in his resignation letter, he was unhappy that the magazine’s editing had become “the worst thing I’ve ever encountered.”
“Few people were surprised by Underwood’s departure,” writes Michael McCambridge in Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated (1997). “A lot of people felt he lost his love for the game a long time ago.”
In addition to his wife, whose surname was Simmons, he is survived by a daughter, Caroline Berman, and a son, Joshua. His daughters Lori Gagne, Leslie Cahill, Kathryn Justice known as Dee Dee and son John Jr. from their marriage to Beverly Holland that ended in divorce. 12 grandchildren; and 5 great-grandchildren.
After Williams passed away in 2002, Underwood published “It’s Only Me: The Ted Williams We Hardly Knew”, a recollection of the friendship that grew from their first trip in 1967 to hunting and fishing vacations around the world. ” (2005). .
“He thought Ted was his uncle,” Underwood said in a phone interview. “It’s just me” are the words Ted often says when he calls. When John or I answered the phone, he said, ‘It’s just me.’ ”