Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Favorite Books: The Inside Story of the Miami Dolphins

As I look back on some of my favorite books from when I was growing up, a couple things strike me. One is the diversity of genres--fantasy, history, sports, fiction. The other is that many of them were Christmas presents from my parents. As I think about it, I discovered many books that I may not have found until later in my life--if at all--because my parents suggested them or gave them to me as gifts because they thought I'd like them. Most of the time they were right.

This week's book is one of those Christmas gifts. This book is about my favorite football team, the Miami Dolphins and it's called The Inside Story of the Miami Dolphins by Steve Perkins & Bill Braucher. I think I received it for Christmas of 1974. The book was published in 1973 and revised in 1974, right after the Dolphins had won back to back Super Bowls. I had just watched my first Super Bowl that past January--the Dolphins beat the Vikings 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII on a black and white TV set up specially in my room. Man, TV in my room! We only got that when we were sick. Little did I know that it would be the last title the Dolphins would win (so far anyway).

Anyway, my parents saw that I really liked the game, and in particular the Dolphins, so the next Christmas I was given a book about them. Now forgive me if I start sounding like an old man, but 40 years ago there were not a lot of places to read about your favorite sports team--especially if you lived in Connecticut and your team played in Florida. There was no internet, no ESPN. Papers ran stories only on the local teams. Even sports logo clothing was tough to come by. All I could find was a rinky dink Bob Griese #12 Dolphins shirt that I ordered from the Sears catalog. I once found a Dolphins pennant in the local Marshalls that I badgered my mom into buying when I was 10. I still had it when I came back from college 11 years later.

So with that in mind, imagine my fascination as I read this book. The inside story, wow! The writers covered the team during its legendary undefeated season and the following year--perhaps the greatest two year stretch any football team has ever had--and I had a front row seat. I must have read that book about 50 times. The icing on the cake were the seven pages of glorious black & white pictures in the center. Ah, simpler times. 

I've still got that book. It's practically falling apart now. But as I thumb through the yellowed pages and look at those black and white photos of my old heroes, I'm back in the 5th grade drawing pictures of football players during school, breaking in a baseball mitt by stuffing a ball in the pocket and sitting on it during school (ouch, how did I do that?), and trading baseball and football cards, hungering for the players that always seemed to escape my grasp. It really is true books--all books--are magic.

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