John Roberts Tunis, born December 7, 1889, wrote about sports. The son of a Unitarian minister, born in Boston, he graduated from Harvard in 1911, admitting that his interests in college were athletics and theater.
He studied law at Boston University, served in France during World War I, and then went on to cover sports for such magazines as Atlantic Monthly, Collier’s, Harper’s, the New Yorker, and the Saturday Evening Post. He was a broadcast announcer on NBC radio, covering tennis from 1934 to 1942 and the first Wimbledon match sent back to the United States.
His articles and books for young adults were good stories, but they also dealt with moral questions in sports. His first two juvenile novels, Iron Duke (1938) and The Duke Decides (1939), feature a Harvard track star who makes the 1936 Olympic team and competes in Hitler’s Berlin.
Tunis is perhaps best-remembered for his series of nine novels about baseball, starting with The Kid from Tomkinsville in 1940.
This crusading sportswriter died in 1975, but his books are still relevant today.