Plimpton is one of the founding figures of the New Journalism (participatory journalism). His stints playing for the New York Yankees and the Detroit Lions became the basis for Out of My League (1961) and Paper Lion (1966). (Hemingway called Plimpton's Yankees gig "the dark side of the moon for Walter Mitty.") His forays into boxing and friendship with Muhammad Ali are recounted in Shadow Box (1977) and in the documentary When We Were Kings (1996). One of the most accomplished American sportswriters, Plimpton has also edited The Norton Black of Sports (1992). His previous biographies include Edie: An American Biography (1982) and American Journey: The Times of Robert F. Kennedy (1970).
A graduate of Harvard and Cambridge Universities, Plimpton founded the renowned literary quarterly The Paris Review, of which he is still editor. In addition to his work as an editor and writer, Plimpton has appeared recently in several films, including Nixon (1995)and Good Will Hunting (1997). He is the fireworks commissioner of New York City.