357S: NOT “Iron Duke”

Around 1952–54, I read just about every John R. Tunis baseball book I could find. Then, having exhausted Mr. Tunis’s baseball output, I checked a football book out of the library. All these years, I have thought Tunis wrote it, and that its title was Iron Duke. Now I suspect both memories are wrong because …

A) I see no such book by Tunis.
B) Iron Duke appears to be about track.
So here is what I think I do remember correctly about the book I’d like to find:
Unlike all the baseball books I had read, the one I am seeking was written in first person. The narrator is some sort of recruiter of football talent for a college. He hears about a big, strong player in a backwoods part of the country, such as rural Pennsylvania, and goes to scout him. With questions about whether the player can fit into a collegiate environment, the narrator of the story takes a chance on the kid. (Maybe he doesn’t even have proper shoes.)
Do you see where this is going? The rube blossoms as a player and person and turns out to have a brilliant football mind, often figuring out, for example, based on the way the offensive players line up, what sort of play they are going to run.
I had settled on the football book out of desperation, and wound up loving it. But now I don’t know who wrote the book or if the title was in any way similar to Iron Duke.
Given that my clues are skimpy––and that what I had always thought I’d remembered clearly seems to be incorrect––you have your work cut out for you.

0 thoughts on “357S: NOT “Iron Duke”

  1. Gill

    If there’s a chance of recognising the author’s name and/or the title, then this link might be worth a shot:


    It’s a book on American Sports Fiction, and the appendix lists many (many) novels, along with their published date. The dates should eliminate about 90%… and once the more obvious baseball books are discarded, there might be only a few authors to investigate.

    There is also a chapter on ‘rubes’ in sport fiction, however it doesn’t appear to reference your book as an example.

    To have easy access, a library account will be required, however one can browse the relevant pages without one.

    The football book Tunis wrote (All American), unfortunately isn’t a match to your description.


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