Rivals! - The Ten Greatest American SportsRivalries of The 20th Century
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Rivals! The Ten Greatest American Sports Rivalries of the 20th Century presents the most memorable rivalries in over a hundred years of American sports history.
  • Examines ten of the greatest American sports rivalries of the past century, relating them to their broader historical context
  • Includes the rivalries between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, Duke and North Carolina, Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and more
  • Draws upon the most recent works of sport historians, as well as hundreds of books, articles, and newspaper accounts
  • Reveals a deep understanding of American sports history and American popular culture
  • Features 30 images that bring the rivalries vividly to life


Richard O. Davies is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he teaches courses in 20th-century American History, American Ideas and Values, and the History of American Sports. His books include Main Street Blues: The Decline of Small-Town America (1998), America’s Obsession: Sports and Society Since 1945 (1994), Betting the Line: Sports Wagering in American Life (2001), and Sports in American Life: A History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007).




1 Fight Fiercely: Harvard and Yale Create the First Great Football Rivalry.

2 "We Hate Each Other's Guts": The Dodgers and the Giants.

3 Battle Along Tobacco Road: Duke and North Carolina Basketball.

4 Mayhem on the Midway: The Bears and the Packers.

5 Shootin' Irons: The Jack Nicklaus-Arnold Palmer Golf Rivalry.

6 Cross-Country Conflict: The Celtics and the Lakers.

7 The Bull and the Butterfly: The Never-Ending Rivalry Between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali.

8 Friendly Foes: Chrissie and Martina.

9 "Dearest Enemies": Michigan-Ohio State Football.

10 East Coast Baseball Rivalry: The Red Sox and the Yankees.

Further Reading.



"Rivals! is a thorough and immensely entertaining read. Davies writes in clear language without sacrificing the subtleties and complexities of the topics he engages. Indeed, Davies' study showed me how much I still have to learn about rivalries that, before encountering his work, I thought I understood quite well. Furthermore, and perhaps most important, Rivals! provides a foundation on which other studies of the sports rivalry can build." (Journal of Sports History, 1 April 2011)

"This is the perfect book for any sports fan. If you’re not a huge sports fan, it would make a great Father’s Day gift, or a great gift for your teenager who wants to learn more about the history of teams." (KatieTalksAbout.com, May 2010)

"Davies' book is a deeply researched, entertaining and insightful look at the cultural and athletic underpinnings of ten entrenched American sports rivalries, one that offers revelations for fans of any team."
Warren St. John, author of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania, and Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town

“The Red Sox and the Yankees, the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils, Arnie and Jack, Ali and Frazier—I could feel the heat rising from the pages of Richard Davies’ Rivals! Anyone who doubts the genuine passions that sports stir should read this book. It’s a book for all seasons—and all fans.”
Randy Roberts, Purdue University, author of Papa Jack: Jack Johnson and the Era of White Hopes and coauthor of Winning is the Only Thing: Sports in America since 1945