Richard Davies, the father of President Bob Davies, mingled with Murray State students at a book signing Sept. 30. The signing was hosted by the department of history.
Richard is the author of several works including “Main Street Blues” and “Sports in American Life.” He said he uses sports as a prism for American history.
Duane Bolin, professor of history, has taught a class titled “Sports in America” at Murray State since 1996.
“I took a ‘History of Sports’ class as a graduate student and it really sparked my interest,” Bolin said.
Bolin began using Richard’s textbook about five years ago. Bolin said he uses sports in his lectures as a mirror to reflect American history.
“Race, gender, economics and religion are all bound up in sports and can effectively be studied this way,” Bolin said.
Mallory Berry, senior from Mayfield, Ky., said she had the privilege to listen to Richard lecture in her “Sports History” class.
“He has amazing, in-depth knowledge about the evolution of sports,” she said.
Although Berry considered herself a sports fan, she said Richard’s books were approachable and enjoyable for all readers.
“He’s really down to earth is his books and makes things easy to understand,” Berry said.
Davies books were on sale at the reading, except for his newest book, “Rivals!: The Ten Greatest American Sports Rivalries of the 20th Century.”
Berry said she was looking forward to purchasing his newest book, which depicts rivalries such as the ones between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, Duke and North Carolina universities and between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali.
Richard said he most regrets not including more than 10 rivalries in his book.
“Readers are often upset that I didn’t include their favorite rivalry,” Richard said.
Richard has emphasized sports history throughout his career, but his book “Main Street Blues,” is a case study of a small town in Ohio.
Richard is an urban historian, so ironically his book about small town U.S. is a product of studying big cities, Bolin said.
Academically speaking, “Main Street Blues” is his best work, Richard said.
He said it was a challenge to write because he mostly relied on old editions of a weekly newspaper that was published in the area, which started in 1880 and shut down in the 1990s.
Richard said he doesn’t plan on taking on any more major projects any time soon, but that he will keep busy by writing articles and teaching classes sporadically.
Story by Mari-Alice Jasper, Staff writer