Dr. Seuss Birthday Special: Seuss’s Unpublished Sports Book, Tim Tebow Reading “Green Eggs & Ham,” and Kevin Love Reading “The Cat in the Hat”

As any parent of a second-grader already knows, today is the birthday of Theodore Geisel, the man known to the world as Dr. Seuss.

In elementary schools, March 2—the day of which Geisel was born in 1904—has become a holiday of sorts. School children around the country will spend the day dressed as Mr. Brown or Thing 2, snacking on green eggs and ham, and listening to readings of The Butter Battle Book and There’s a Wocket in My Pocket (my personal favorite). My family will spend the afternoon watching the new Lorax movie.

Dr. Seuss’s published works say very little about sports, unless you count “Ring the Gack” as a sport.

Ring the Gack

 

But in the 1960s Seuss started a book called All Sorts of Sports. He set the project aside for several years, but revisited it in 1983 at the urging of an employee. Though Geisel never completed the book, a nineteen-page manuscript survives. Seven of the nineteen pages came entirely from the hand of Seuss himself; Geisel’s assistants had scribbled notes on the other twelve.

The manuscript tells the story of an athletic wonder named Pete who loves sports of every sort:

What am I going to do today. Well, that’s a simple matter. Oh, that’s easy. We could play. There are so many sports games to play. We could swim. I could play baseball…golf..or catch. Or I could play a tennis match. There are so many sports, let’s see… I could bowl, jump hurdles, or water ski. I could blumf.

A page from the "All Sorts of Sports" manuscript

 

Seuss was never satisfied with the manuscript and sarcastically suggested that his assistant submit it to Harper and Row. (Seuss had his own publishing imprint through Random House.) He explained his objections to the story in a letter to the employee who’d suggested he reconsider it:

What, in my opinion, is wrong with this story is that…despite the greatness of Pete as a stellar athlete hero…the negative image of him flubbing and unable to catch any ball at all will make him a schnook. This is not entirely apparent in the text, but when you picture these negative scenes in illustrations, you will find that negatives are always more memorable than positives. And I think the reader’s reaction will be, “What’s the matter with this dope?”

BOOKTRYST has the entire story behind All Sorts of Sports. The manuscript sold for more than $34,000 at an October 2010 auction.

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While Dr. Seuss didn’t have much to say about sports in his books, plenty of athletes count themselves as Seuss fans and have taken time to read the author’s stories to school children.

Last month Tim Tebow, through his foundation, read his favorite Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham, for BOOK IT!, a “reading incentive program sponsored by Pizza Hut:

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If you don’t like Green Eggs and Ham, whether in a house, with a mouse, in a box, or with a fox, here is a video of Kevin Love earlier this week reading The Cat in the Hat:

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About Josh Tinley

Josh Tinley writes the Away From The Action column at Midwest Sports Fans, covering all aspects of sport aside from what actually happens on the field, court, or track. Josh grew up in Indianapolis and graduated from the University of Evansville and Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is the author of Kneeling in the End Zone: Spiritual Lessons From the World of Sports and the managing editor of LinC, a weekly curriculum for teens that explores the intersection of faith and culture. Josh lives outside Nashville with his wife, Ashlee, and children, Meyer (7), Resha Kate (5), and Malachi (3). He will not allow himself to die before the Evansville Purple Aces make another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Follow him on Twitter @joshtinley or send him an e-mail.

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