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Saturday Art: Influential Authors: George Plimpton

George Plimpton: Paper Lion

George Plimpton: Paper Lion

George Plimpton just might have been the ultimate modern day, real life Walter Mitty, an everyman fulfilling various fantasies on the sports field and elsewhere then living to tell the tale, no matter how bumbling his exploits may have been. From his wiki intro:

George Ames Plimpton (March 18, 1927 – September 25, 2003) was an American journalist, writer, literary editor, actor, and occasional amateur sportsman. He is widely known for his sports writing and for helping to found The Paris Review. Plimpton was also famous for “participatory journalism” which included competing in professional sporting events, acting in a Western, performing a comedy act at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and playing with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra[1] and then recording the experience from the point of view of an amateur.

While the above is rather dry, a few paragraphs from his obituary from the New York Times may provide a better snap shot of Plimpton’s exploits:

All of this contributed to the charm of reading about Mr. Plimpton’s frequently hapless adventures; as “professional” athlete, stand-up comedian, movie bad guy or circus performer; which he chronicled in witty, elegant prose in nearly three dozen books.

As a boxer, he had his nose bloodied by Archie Moore at Stillman’s Gym in 1959. As a pitcher he became utterly exhausted and couldn’t finish an exhibition against 16 stars from the National and American Leagues (though he managed to get Willie Mays to pop up). And as a “professional” third-string quarterback, he lost roughly 30 yards during a scrimmage with the Detroit Lions in 1963.

He also tried his hand at tennis (Pancho Gonzalez beat him easily), bridge (Oswald Jacoby outmaneuvered him) and golf. With his handicap of 18, he lost badly to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

In a brief stint as a goaltender for the Boston Bruins, he made the mistake of catching a puck in his gloved hand, and it caused a nasty gash in his pinkie. He failed as an aerialist when he tried out for the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus. As a symphonist, he wangled a temporary percussionist’s job with the New York Philharmonic. He was assigned to play sleigh bells, triangle, bass drum and gong, the latter of which he struck so hard during a Tchaikovsky chestnut that Leonard Bernstein, who was trying to conduct the piece, burst into applause.

My personal introduction to Plimpton was the book Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last String Quarterback which I read not long after it was first published in 1963:

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Saturday Art: Influential Authors: George Plimpton

Please Note: When I began this series, it was to cover a lot of authors whom I have found personally influential, even though this may only be because I enjoyed the stories they have told in their books or short stories. I’m just fortunate enough and well read enough that many of the authors I have personally enjoyed have also been influential on a macro scale as well as micro. rrt

George Plimpton: Paper Lion

George Plimpton: Paper Lion

George Plimpton just might have been the ultimate modern day, real life Walter Mitty, an everyman fulfilling various fantasies on the sports field and elsewhere then living to tell the tale, no matter how bumbling his exploits may have been. From his wiki intro:

George Ames Plimpton (March 18, 1927 – September 25, 2003) was an American journalist, writer, literary editor, actor, and occasional amateur sportsman. He is widely known for his sports writing and for helping to found The Paris Review. Plimpton was also famous for “participatory journalism” which included competing in professional sporting events, acting in a Western, performing a comedy act at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and playing with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra[1] and then recording the experience from the point of view of an amateur.

While the above is rather dry, a few paragraphs from his obituary from the New York Times may provide a better snap shot of Plimpton’s exploits:

All of this contributed to the charm of reading about Mr. Plimpton’s frequently hapless adventures; as “professional” athlete, stand-up comedian, movie bad guy or circus performer; which he chronicled in witty, elegant prose in nearly three dozen books.

As a boxer, he had his nose bloodied by Archie Moore at Stillman’s Gym in 1959. As a pitcher he became utterly exhausted and couldn’t finish an exhibition against 16 stars from the National and American Leagues (though he managed to get Willie Mays to pop up). And as a “professional” third-string quarterback, he lost roughly 30 yards during a scrimmage with the Detroit Lions in 1963.

He also tried his hand at tennis (Pancho Gonzalez beat him easily), bridge (Oswald Jacoby outmaneuvered him) and golf. With his handicap of 18, he lost badly to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

In a brief stint as a goaltender for the Boston Bruins, he made the mistake of catching a puck in his gloved hand, and it caused a nasty gash in his pinkie. He failed as an aerialist when he tried out for the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus. As a symphonist, he wangled a temporary percussionist’s job with the New York Philharmonic. He was assigned to play sleigh bells, triangle, bass drum and gong, the latter of which he struck so hard during a Tchaikovsky chestnut that Leonard Bernstein, who was trying to conduct the piece, burst into applause.

My personal introduction to Plimpton was the book Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last String Quarterback which I read not long after it was first published in 1963: (more…)

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dakine01

dakine01

Small town Kentucky country boy lived all over the country. Currently in Ruskin, FL