Jordan, Pat(rick M.) 1941-
JORDAN, Pat(rick M.) 1941-
PERSONAL: Born April 22, 1941, in Bridgeport, CT; son of Pat M. (a salesman) and Florence (Diamond) Jordan; married Carol Pruzinsky, February 11, 1961 (marriage ended); children: Lisa, Jacqueline, Christopher, Stephanie, Robert. Education: Fairfield University, A.B., 1965. Religion: Roman Catholic.
ADDRESSES: Home—1134 Valley Rd., Bridgeport, CT 06604. Agent—Sterling Lord Agency, 65 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10021.
CAREER: Professional baseball player, 1959-62; construction worker, 1962; newspaper reporter, 1962-65; auto racer, 1964-67; high school English teacher, 1965-70; writer, 1971—.
Black Coach (nonfiction), Dodd (New York, NY), 1971.
Suitors of Spring (nonfiction), Dodd (New York, NY), 1973.
A False Spring (memoir), Dodd (New York, NY), 1975.
Broken Patterns (nonfiction), Dodd (New York, NY), 1977.
Chase the Game (nonfiction), Dodd (New York, NY), 1979.
After the Sundown (nonfiction) Dodd (New York, NY), 1979.
The Cheat (novel), Villard (New York, NY), 1984.
Sports Illustrated Pitching: The Key to Excellence (nonfiction), Sports Illustrated (New York, NY), 1988.
A Nice Tuesday: A Memoir, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1999.
a.k.a. Sheila Doyle (novel), Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributor to Reflections of the Game: Lives in Baseball: The Photographs of Ronald C. Modra, Willow Creek Press (Minocqua, WI), 1998. Contributor to Sports Illustrated.
SIDELIGHTS: Pat Jordan began his professional career as a baseball player with the Milwaukee Braves in 1959. After just three lackluster years as a pitcher in the minor leagues, he turned from playing sports to writing about them. Over the next several decades, Jordan combined his love for sports with his journalist's eye for investigating how social and cultural influences shape both athletes and sports. His first book, Black Coach, is a nonfiction exploration about race relations and sports that was published in 1971.
Black Coach examines desegregation in high-school sports programs in North Carolina in the late 1960s. When the schools are integrated, an African-American coach is named to head up the mostly white football team at Walter Williams High School. Jordan is less concerned about their success as a team than how the team acts as a microcosm for the social upheaval taking place throughout the country at the time. The book met with good reviews. Jonathan Yardley in the New Republic deemed Jordan's book both necessary and good because "it recognizes that sport is a part of life, not an unimportant one, and that life is more complex than sports-page headlines."
In The Suitors of Spring Jordan focuses on baseball and profiles some of the game's unsung heroes, such as Woody Huyke, as well as some who are better known, like Bruce Kison and Tom Seaver, in in-depth portrayals that explore each person's struggle to master the game. The strides of female athletes are the focus of Broken Patterns. Here Jordan focuses specifically on how some female athletes have used sports as a way out of the poverty of their youth or to overcome other hurdles in their lives. As in his previous works, he profiles lesser-known names, such as Lillian Ellison, a wrestler known as "The Fabulous Moolah." Like his previous books, Broken Patterns received good reviews, Peter Andrews in the New York Times Book Review calling it "a fascinating gallery of dedicated, driven people." Carol Keon of Best Sellers, though taking issue with some arguably anti-feminist statements in the book, complimented Jordan's prose, saying his "description of El Paso reveals the eye of a painter and the soul of a poet."
Basketball takes center stage in Chase the Game, an exposé of three talented high-school basketball players who strive to make the big time. Jordan examines how the pressures of their world, including race relations, poverty, family, and the preying tactics of the sports industry, commingle to ultimately shatter the boys' hopes. Though courted by sports teams, the three boys strive to break free of the ghetto where they grew up, but eventually wind up where they started. Victor Kantor Burg wrote in the Christian Science Monitor that "One of Jordan's finest talents . . . is his depiction of the look and feel of intersections: streetcorners, rivalries, relatives, the visible forms of anger and friendships and games."
During the 1980s Jordan switched gears and began writing fiction. His first novel, The Cheat, mixes his two main interests—journalism and baseball, while the crime thriller a.k.a. Sheila Doyle eschews the world of sports for the seamy side of Florida's underworld. In The Cheat, Bobby Giacquinto, a man's man with a distant wife and a serious mistress, is a sports journalist with a knack for stirring up trouble. While interviewing a forgotten baseball pitcher, he uncovers a story about a holy-roller crusader and a dead baseball player. Soon Bobby must choose between his wife and his mistress, and between professional integrity and selling out in telling the lurid story he uncovers. The book received mixed reviews. In the New York Times Book Review, Robert W. Creamer praised "Jordan's depiction of Giacquinto's frustration and ambivalence" as "admirable," particularly when writing about a middle-aged man's descent into compulsive adultery, but he ultimately called the novel a "failure" for its stale characterizations and unimaginative love scenes. Elizabeth Millken of Best Sellers concurred, stating that the novel is best when concentrating on sports, and veers badly when it gets bogged down in the anatomical details of Giacquinto's life.
Jordan switches gears in a.k.a. Sheila Doyle. When Sheila Ryan, an aspiring actress whose only film credit is a porn flick, goes to a strip club to celebrate her divorce, she winds up in bed with Robert Redfeather, a.k.a. Bobby Squared, a part-time stripper who moonlights as a small-time South Florida thug devoted to running guns and money. Sheila embraces her new lifestyle as Bobby's girlfriend and transforms herself into the wild, passionate Sheila Doyle. When Bobby and his partner Sol Rogers bungle a deal between Cuban warlord Juan José Medina and a shady character known as Aryan Mountain Kirk, Medina attempts to exact revenge and Sheila finds she is not shy about defending herself with a gun. Although a Kirkus Reviews writer characterized a.k.a. Sheila Doyle as being on par with a television movie, the critic added that "you've got to have a warm spot for a thriller in which virtually everybody but the dog has at least one alias." A Publishers Weekly reviewer liked Jordan's "local color . . . in which violence and death are commonplace among the rastas, rednecks and neo-Nazis who dwell on the edge of the swamps and obey few rules," and Wes Lukowsky, writing in Booklist, called the novel "exciting and thought-provoking."
Additionally, Jordan has written two memoirs about his own involvement in sports, A False Spring and A Nice Tuesday. With A False Spring Jordan tells about his lucrative deal with the Milwaukee Braves when he was a mere teenager, and his career that ended after three frustrating seasons pitching in minor-league towns around the Midwest. His reminiscences cover the people he met along the way, including the women, the managers, and his fellow teammates. He portrays his career as a metamorphosis of sorts; he grew from a brash upstart into a more philosophical observer in the hard-scrabble environment. James A. Phillips wrote in Best Sellers that "what is engaging about this story of sports failure is the concomitant story of personal growth.... What Catcher in the Rye did for prep school dropouts, A False Spring might well do for pro sports dropouts." Robert W. Creamer of the New York Times Book Review called it "one of the most revealing books ever written about baseball."
Jordan's subsequent memoir, A Nice Tuesday, recounts the author's attempts as a middle-aged man to recapture the glory of his youth by joining a minor league baseball team in Connecticut at the age of fifty-six. Along the way, he meanders through more personal territory—a broken marriage, his second wife, his writing success, and his struggle to get himself in shape as age encroaches. As with A False Spring, critics generally enjoyed Jordan's trip down memory lane. Although a reviewer for Publishers Weekly said that while "Jordan is capable of some snappy writing, the book suffers from the same lack of discipline he now thinks scuttled his pitching career," Morey Berger in Library Journal called the book "raunchy but still touching."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1986, pp. 193-95.
Best Sellers, January 1, 1972, S. J. Desmond Matthews, review of Black Coach, p. 444; May, 1975, James A. Philips, review of A False Spring, p. 35; June, 1977, Carol Keon, review of Broken Patterns, p. 85; July, 1979, Joseph P. Lovering, review of Chase the Game, pp. 129-130; December, 1984, Elizabeth Millken, review of The Cheat,p. 327.
Booklist, January 1, 1980, review of After the Sundown, p. 648; June 1, 2002, Wes Lukowsky, review of a.k.a. Sheila Doyle, p. 1691.
Christian Science Monitor, May 10, 1979, Victor Kantor Burg, "How They Played the Game," p. 19.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 1973, review of The Suitors of Spring, p. 166; May 1, 1999, review of A Nice Tuesday, p. 695; July 1, 2002, review of a.k.a. Sheila Doyle, p. 920.
Library Journal, May 1, 1999, Morey Berger, a review of A Nice Tuesday, p. 87.
New Republic, December 18, 1971, Jonathan Yardley, "Babe Ruth Still in His Heaven," pp. 21-23.
New York Times, May 13, 1999, Martin Arnold, "Lots of Agony, Little Ecstasy," p. B3.
New York Times Book Review, May 29, 1977, Peter Andrews, review of Broken Patterns, p. 18; October 28, 1984, Robert W. Creamer, "Love after Forty," p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, August 27, 1979, review of After the Sundown, p. 380; August 3, 1984, review of The Cheat, p. 54; May 3, 1999, review of A Nice Tuesday, p. 63; July 1, 2002, review of a.k.a. Sheila Doyle, p. 56.
Time, January 14, 1985, Peter Stoler, review of TheCheat, p. 78.*