When Deford decided to put together another anthology, this time of his broadcast work, it only took a little editing to come up with the title: “I’d Know That Voice Anywhere.”
Deford wrote in his 1987 book that he was glad to come along in the business when he did. An earlier entrance would have meant that he would have been a columnist for a newspaper instead of a longform writer for a magazine, and that wouldn’t have been a good fit. So what did he do in 1990? He started writing one essay per week, week after week, for radio.
It’s hard to tell how much leeway he had in length, but most of it covered two pages in print so it’s probably three minutes or so of talking. Deford makes his point in the time allotted, and moves on. This isn’t as easy as it looks. Mark Twain had the right idea when he said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
Deford picked out about 100 of more than 2,000 commentaries for inclusion here. The ones that don’t date well are left behind, leaving us with an eclectic collection of subjects. There are essays on sports language, on America’s hatred of ties, the problems of women’s team sports, and baseball caps. There’s a comparison of the headlines of golf magazines and women’s magazines, the playing of the National Anthem at sports events, and the surprising (compared to the rest of the world) popularity of college sports in the United States.