Sports Night at the Book Festival

Virginia Festival of the Book

A souvenir from the 2012 Virginia Festival of the Book

A souvenir from the 2012 Virginia Festival of the Book. (Photo by Peter Hedlund)

The Virginia Festival of the Book is hosting several legendary sports writers, both fiction and nonfiction, at Sports Night on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 7 p.m., at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville. Panelists Frank Deford, John Grisham, Jane Leavy, and Dave Zirin, with moderator Tim Wendel—will share stories about their lives in and around sports. Sports Night is sponsored by the investment firm, Davenport & Company LLC.

Called “the world’s greatest sportswriter” by GQ, Frank Deford’s career has spanned more than fifty years, since he began writing for Sports Illustrated in 1962. He is also a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition and senior correspondent on HBO’s RealSports with Bryant Gumbel. Deford has published many books in both fiction and nonfiction, including most recently Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter (2012), a memoir combined with a history of sports writing.

Charlottesville resident John Grisham is well-known for his legal thrillers, but his first dreams were of professional baseball stardom. Though he instead practiced law in Mississippi and then became a best-selling author, sports have been the background of several of his novels, including Bleachers (2003), Playing for Pizza (2007), and Calico Joe (2012).

A former writer for the Washington Post and a contributor to numerous other publications, Jane Leavy idolized Mickey Mantle while growing up on Long Island. She turned her attention to him in her biography, The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood (2010). Prior to The Last Boy, Leavy authored Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy (2005), as well as the comic novel Squeeze Play (1990).

The author of seven books, Dave Zirin specializes in writing about the intersections of sports, economics, and politics. His most recent book, Game Over: How Politics are Turning the Sports World Upside Down (2012), was called “the perfect book for our time in sports” by USA Today. Zirin is a sports editor for The Nation, where he authors the column “Edge of Sports.” He also hosts the weekly Sirius XM radio show of the same name.

Moderator Tim Wendel is currently writer-in-residence at Johns Hopkins University. His recent book, Summer of ’68: The Season that Changed Baseball and America Forever (2012), was named a “Top 10” sports title by Publisher’s Weekly and a “Notable Book of 2013” by the state of Michigan. He is the author of nine nonfiction books and novels and frequently contributes to newspapers and magazines.

Never before have these writers been on stage together talking about sports and sports writing, so don’t miss this unique opportunity.

Join us for Sports Night!

General-seating tickets for Sports Night are $12.50 each and must be purchased at or by calling 434-979-1333.

When contacting the Paramount, also order your tickets to American Icons with the Honorable John Lewis and 1968 Olympian Dr. John Carlos. American Icons, sponsored by Wells Fargo and an anonymous donor, is March 23 at 8 p.m., and general-seating tickets are only $5 each.

Be sure to add both events to your Bookbag so you don’t miss them.

The Authors