The Book on Marion
"See How She Runs" offers medal-worthy look at Marion Jones The Sydney Olympics are just around the corner, and poised to light up the Games and all of us is a global superstar: Marion Jones.
Her quest is a record five gold medals. How she got to this point, what drives her, what she is like - all of these things are to be found in "See How She Runs: Marion Jones and the Making of A Champion," by Ron Rapoport (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $21.95, 212 pages).
There have been and there are great female athletes. But Marion Jones - like Pele, Muhammad Ali, and Michael Jordan among the men - is in a class by herself. She's currently the world's fastest woman, the most prominent track and field star anywhere, and she is just at the early stages of what already is a fabulous career.
Rapoport, sports commentator for National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition" and sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, begins this trim biography: "In 1983, when Marion Jones was eight years old and had graduated from T-ball to Little League, she found herself not only competing against boys, but beating them. Once, with a runner on second base, Marion hit the ball beyond the outfielders, raced around the bases so quickly she overtook the boy ahead of her by the time she had reached third."
Marion Jones has made a habit of overtaking and over-reaching. And she hasn't stopped yet.
All sports were easy prey for Jones in her adolescent years in California. She mastered every one she attempted - baseball, basketball, gymnastics, soccer, but especially track and field. The University of North Carolina gave her a basketball scholarship, and she paid the school back by leading her hoops team to a national championship in her freshman year.
In this book, Rapoport skillfully lets us know how and why Jones runs. He paints a portrait of a young and intense competitor who is at the same time a well-rounded individual.
But even more to the point and more helpful in getting at the person behind the persona are the words of Marion's mother, who goes into some detail about what it was like to raise a talented, precocious and often willful daughter.
Marion's husband, the often-reclusive world champion shot putter C.J. Hunter, weighs in with his own revealing comments. And Marion gives of herself in honest, ranging commentary about her absent father and lingering bitterness about her collegiate experiences.
There is so much to like about Marion Jones. There is so much to like about "See How She Runs" - the fine prose of Rapoport, the photos from Marion's family album, the inside look at a superstar ascending.
My only quibble is that "See How She Runs" should have been longer than the 212 pages. One yearns for an even fuller treatment of the woman the world will be watching in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
"Baseball Dynasties" by Rob Neyer and Eddie Epstein (Norton Publishers, $17.95, 384 pages) is an analytical and statistical look at teams ranging from the 1906 Chicago Cubs to the 1998 New York Yankees. If you are into analysis and over-analysis, this might be the book for you. The rest of us should pass.
"Tales from the Cubs Dugout" by Pete Cava (Sports Publishing Inc., $19.95, 275 pages) is another in this publishing company's series on major-league teams. For Cubs fans -- required reading. For the rest of us -- optional.
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About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
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