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Rivals!: The Ten Greatest American Sports Rivalries of the 20th Century

ISBN: 978-1-4051-7764-1
304 pages
April 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Rivals!: The Ten Greatest American Sports Rivalries of the 20th Century (1405177640) cover image
Rivals! The Ten Greatest American Sports Rivalries of the 20th Century presents the most memorable rivalries in over a hundred years of American sports history.
  • Examines ten of the greatest American sports rivalries of the past century, relating them to their broader historical context
  • Includes the rivalries between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, Duke and North Carolina, Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and more
  • Draws upon the most recent works of sport historians, as well as hundreds of books, articles, and newspaper accounts
  • Reveals a deep understanding of American sports history and American popular culture
  • Features 30 images that bring the rivalries vividly to life
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Acknowledgments.

Introduction.

1 Fight Fiercely: Harvard and Yale Create the First Great Football Rivalry.

2 "We Hate Each Other's Guts": The Dodgers and the Giants.

3 Battle Along Tobacco Road: Duke and North Carolina Basketball.

4 Mayhem on the Midway: The Bears and the Packers.

5 Shootin' Irons: The Jack Nicklaus-Arnold Palmer Golf Rivalry.

6 Cross-Country Conflict: The Celtics and the Lakers.

7 The Bull and the Butterfly: The Never-Ending Rivalry Between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali.

8 Friendly Foes: Chrissie and Martina.

9 "Dearest Enemies": Michigan-Ohio State Football.

10 East Coast Baseball Rivalry: The Red Sox and the Yankees.

Further Reading.

Index.

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Richard O. Davies is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he teaches courses in 20th-century American History, American Ideas and Values, and the History of American Sports. His books include Main Street Blues: The Decline of Small-Town America (1998), America’s Obsession: Sports and Society Since 1945 (1994), Betting the Line: Sports Wagering in American Life (2001), and Sports in American Life: A History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007).
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"Rivals! is a thorough and immensely entertaining read. Davies writes in clear language without sacrificing the subtleties and complexities of the topics he engages. Indeed, Davies' study showed me how much I still have to learn about rivalries that, before encountering his work, I thought I understood quite well. Furthermore, and perhaps most important, Rivals! provides a foundation on which other studies of the sports rivalry can build." (Journal of Sports History, 1 April 2011)

"This is the perfect book for any sports fan. If you’re not a huge sports fan, it would make a great Father’s Day gift, or a great gift for your teenager who wants to learn more about the history of teams." (KatieTalksAbout.com, May 2010)

"Davies' book is a deeply researched, entertaining and insightful look at the cultural and athletic underpinnings of ten entrenched American sports rivalries, one that offers revelations for fans of any team."
Warren St. John, author of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania, and Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town

“The Red Sox and the Yankees, the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils, Arnie and Jack, Ali and Frazier—I could feel the heat rising from the pages of Richard Davies’ Rivals! Anyone who doubts the genuine passions that sports stir should read this book. It’s a book for all seasons—and all fans.”
Randy Roberts, Purdue University, author of Papa Jack: Jack Johnson and the Era of White Hopes and coauthor of Winning is the Only Thing: Sports in America since 1945

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March 29, 2010
Rivals! The Ten Greatest American Sports Rivalries of the 20th Century

 

The U.S. Olympics athletes swept a total of thirty-seven medals in the Vancouver Olympics, more than hosting country Canada.  A new book, Rivals! The Ten Greatest American Sports Rivalries of the 20th Century (April 2010), makes it clear that the U.S. is a nation of fiercely competitive athletes, die-hard sports fans, and the home of sports as true, knock-out entertainment. Every sports fan loves a good rivalry, and Richard Davies plucks out the ten most memorable rivalries of the last century. These rivalries have compellingly withstood the capricious winds and tides of American sports history, and as baseball and golf season peek over the horizon, these rivalries take on new, historical dimensions.

Richard Davies reveals the nature of competition itself and the reasons why organized sports have emerged as such an important part of our everyday lives. From professional baseball (Red Sox vs. Yankees), college football (Harvard vs. Yale), professional basketball (Lakers vs. Celtics), college basketball (Duke and North Carolina), to legendary one-on-one rivalries (Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali), Davies gives us an inside look at the fiery personalities and intense dedication of these rivals.

Rivals! The Ten Greatest American Sports Rivalries of the 20th Century features 30 images that bring the rivalries vividly to life, including a photo of future U.S. senator Ted Kennedy playing for  Harvard, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as center for the Lakers, a portrait of Babe Ruth in 1919, and a rare snapshot of the long-time Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in all his glory.

Chapters:

Fight Fiercely: Harvard and Yale Create the First Great Football Rivalry
As the Bulldogs and the Crimson fought to the brink of extinction in late 19th century, future President Theodore Roosevelt fought by the side of Walter Camp (the “Father of American Football”) in an effort to expose men to activities that would prepare them for leadership in “the real world.”


"We Hate Each Other's Guts": The Dodgers and the Giants
The rivalry between these two California-based teams began in New York in 1883 and remains the oldest and most enduring baseball rivalry. The social vision of Branch Rickey and the charismatic coaching of Tommy Lasorda have kept this rivalry colorful.


Battle Along Tobacco Road: Duke and North Carolina Basketball
The NCAA men's basketball tournament will soon get started and the “Final Four” may include one or both of these rival teams. Ten miles apart, the nation’s oldest public university and the elite private institution have at the heart of their rivalry a personal rift between methodical, forward-thinker NC coach Dean Smith and Duke’s self-confident, rough-talking Mike Krzyzewski.


Mayhem on the Midway: The Bears and the Packers
These Midwesterners have played every autumn since 1923. The Bears were originally led by money-minded, “Papa Bear,” George Halas, who was instrumental among owners in enabling the NFL to survive during its difficult formative years. Packers coach Vince Lombardo introduced innovations such as “option blocking” to professional football.

Shootin' Irons: The Jack Nicklaus-Arnold Palmer Golf Rivalry
The Masters golf tournament will be held in Augusta in mid-April, the same tournament that saw blue-collar hero Arnold Palmer and commonly jeered (but calm, cool, and collected) upstart Jack Nicklaus competing at the top of their game.

Cross-Country Conflict: The Celtics and the Lakers
The National Basketball Association playoffs in mid-April will no doubt bring back memories of the white hot rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics when they together claimed half of all NBA championships between 1947 and 2009.

The Bull and the Butterfly: The Never-Ending Rivalry Between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali
As boxing strains to keep its credibility and popularity as a professional sport, Davies’ colorful re-telling of the Ali-Frazier rivalry and Ali’s public image crisis looks back at the gritty origins of the sport, and the raw animosity between the two fighters who are among boxing’s all-time greats.


Friendly Foes: Chrissie and Martina

The passionate rivalry between the All-American Chris Evert and the impulsive, ex-patriot, Czechoslovakian-born, raw talent Martina Navratilova simmered steadily over the years but remained cordial.


 "Dearest Enemies": Michigan-Ohio State Football
Ohio State star Chic Harley (the first bona fide Buckeye star running back), bigger stadiums, the individual rivalry between Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes, and Gerald Ford as All-American center, brought football frenzy to a new level.


East Coast Baseball Rivalry: The Red Sox and the Yankees
 Fans can relive the infamous and bitter Red Sox vs. Yankees rivalry between the teams as well as the players (Williams vs. DiMaggio), the origins of the “Curse of the Bambino,” and the comeback of 2004.

 

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