When I write about sports people I almost feel they are characters I’m putting in a book. Of course, they are real people. But I write about them in words, translate them into my words. And they become characters in my writing — ongoing characters.

I’ve been sitting around the house today asking myself who are the greatest personalities I’ve written about — the best characters I come back to again and again. And off the top of my head I come up with this.

In a class by themselves.

Bill Walsh.

Don Nelson.

Just fascinating. I carry them around in my head, all their great qualities and their weaknesses and I think about them. I don’t totally understand them. If Dickens had met them he could have written a dozen novels about them.

Remember, I am not saying these are the best people or the nicest — although I like(d) them both. They are the most fascinating.

Other great characters in no particular order:

Frank Robinson

Jeffrey Leonard

Chili Davis

Kevin Mitchell

Jose Canseco

Charle Young

Vida Blue

Russ Francis

Al Davis

Will Clark

Dusty Baker

Jim Harbaugh

George Karl

Jim Lefebvre

Billy Beane

There are dozens more, I’m sure. But it’s late and I’m getting sleepy. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and smack myself in the head for leaving out a bunch of wonderful characters.