Now available from Back Story Publishing:
- (COMING SOON) 2018/September: Orioles’ Big Bird: Mark Trumbo speaks softly, but carries a big stick, by Peter Schmuck
- (COMING SOON) 2018/August 1: The Pluck of the Irish: 10 Notre Dame sports figures who made a difference, by Jim Hayden.
- 2018/February: Fairly at Bat: My 50 years in baseball, from the batter’s box to the broadcast booth, by Ron Fairly with Steve Springer.
- 2017/November: Hard to Heart: How boxer Tim Bradley won championships and respect, by Bill Dwyre
The Pluck of the Irish
10 Notre Dame sports figures who made a difference
By Jim Hayden
A unique anthology of 10 individuals who influenced, or were influenced by the University of Notre Dame make up the new, inspirational book, The Pluck of the Irish: 10 Notre Dame sports figures who made a difference.
But it is not just about athletes. As noted in the second Foreward by the award-winning Los Angeles Times sports editor Bill Dwyre:
“Some of them are famous athletes – a quarterback who broke records, a running back who was a Vietnam war hero, a basketball star who pioneered race relations. There’s a story about a hall-of-fame coach, a swimmer whose accident almost left her paralyzed, a broadcaster who wasn’t good enough to play sports, but excels at describing them. There are stories about Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, who explained what happened on the playing field and also why.”
But the first profile “is the story of a priest who made sure that everyone at Notre Dame was a good person as well as a good athlete, coach, or teacher; a leader, who made a difference at his university, and all over the world.” That would be the Father Theodore Hesburgh, who served as the president at Notre Dame over a period of extraordinary change for 35 years from 1952-87.
Written by Jim Hayden, himself a Notre Dame graduate, the book is aimed at middle-grade readers and up and is a fun and enjoyable read for anyone who wants to understand the positive impact that an institution like Notre Dame can have during a crucial, formative period of their lives … and how students, staff and administrators can have a profound impact on the university they attend.
Muffet McGraw, the coach of Notre Dame’s astonishing 2018 NCAA women’s basketball championship team is profiled. Wrote Hayden, “If you’re not on Muffet’s team, you wish you were” and details her journey as a high school point guard from Pottsville, Pennsylvania to professional basketball and – like a point guard – being in charge of teaching championship basketball to young women in South Bend, Indiana.
So is the son of a railroad boilermaker from Connellsville, Pennsylvania who came back to Notre Dame after serving in World War II because it “was a place where good thing happen to you.” Johnny Lujack became the Heisman Trophy winner and won letters in four different sports.
Then there was the youngster from Green Bay, Wisconsin who described himself as “distinguished by flaming hair, milk-bottle glasses, and the two left feet of a nonathlete.” He wanted to go to Notre Dame because a friend of his did, and was studying the fascinating world of journalism. The “nonathlete” became the intermediary for millions who learned about sports from the typewriter of Red Smith, one of the finest sportswriters who ever lived.
The other six chapters of the book cover Haley Scott DeMaria, George Blaha, Pete Duranko, George Dohrman, Tommy Hawkins and Rocky Bleier. All with remarkable stories and successes as Fighting Irish.
The Pluck of the Irish opens with a tribute to Harry Ornest, who family’s contribution made this book possible. Ornest is best remembered as the owner who rescued the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League in the 1980s, but who had a lifetime of success in managing teams and enjoying sports of all kinds.
It finishes with a dozen facts and anecdotes about Notre Dame, including – on page 150 – who wrote the “greatest of all fight songs,” the Notre Dame Victory March. A great way to end an easyto-enjoy book that not only informs, but like any good teacher, also provides inspiration and lessons which can be applied in the future by students of any age.
- For middle-grade readers and up.
- Available August 1, 2018
- Paperback edition: $12.99 (ISBN 978-0-9993967-4-2)
- Digital edition: $9.99 (ISBN 978-0-9993967-5-9)
Fairly at Bat
My 50 years in baseball, from the batter’s box to the broadcast booth
By Ron Fairly with Steve Springer
Ron Fairly had an unbelievable 1958, in which he started the year playing baseball at the University of Southern California and ended it as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. And then it got better.
Fairly at Bat is a dramatic, funny, and altogether entertaining romp through a 50-year career as a player and broadcaster, including as a member of three World Series champion Dodgers teams in the 1950s and ‘60s.
All the stars of those great teams are here, not just as players, but as people, teammates and friends. The old guard from Brooklyn and the new stars in Los Angeles: Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Carl Furillo, Frank Howard, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills and so many more. How the Dodgers who came west made Los Angeles their own, even winning a World Series in a football stadium until Dodger Stadium was built.
Fairly takes you into the lives of baseball players of the 1960s and ‘70s, not only between the basepaths, but in off-hours before and after the games. His memoir includes not only the Dodgers, but players he faced such as Cardinals Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, or just met along the way, like Red Sox hitting star Ted Williams.
The incidents are famous, of course, like the 1963 World Series sweep of the New York Yankees, how a bad scouting report almost cost the Dodgers the 1965 World Series and what it was like to be swept by Baltimore in the 1966 Series. The way baseball was in a rougher time, with brushback pitches and even the infamous Marichal-Roseboro brawl in 1965.
Fairly pulls no punches, discussing his relationship with the Dodger management, including owner Walter O’Malley, general manager Buzzie Bavasi and manager Walter Alston. He includes an amazing story about Alston pulling a star pitcher after 10 pitches … in batting practice!
So much more: why Fairly chose USC for college over UCLA, even though he was offered a basketball scholarship by Bruins coach John Wooden, what Vero Beach was like in the heyday of Dodgertown and his post-Dodgers odyssey that included All-Star selections in Montreal and Toronto and stints in Oakland, St. Louis and a lucky final stop in Anaheim.
He made a very successful transition from player to broadcaster, but just as when he came up with the Dodgers, he had to learn a new trade. Being behind a microphone had its own challenges, much different than those of a player.
Fairly at Bat is a memoir shaped by his half-century in the game that originally started as a personal journal that has been transformed into 212 pages of fun that’s easy to read and enjoy. Fairly worked with long-time Los Angeles Times sportswriter and author Steve Springer, a veteran of more than a dozen books, including best-selling biographies of Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, boxing champion Oscar de la Hoya and many others.
It’s illustrated with Fairly’s personal photographs, including those from his youth, and many locker room prank shots that showed teammates and friends having a good time as well as playing a game they loved.
Wrote Fairly, “In all my years in baseball … I never felt like I had a job. It was more like going to the playground every day.” And now, fans can go with him on his amazing, championship ride.
Fairly at Bat: My 50 years in baseball, from the batter’s box to the broadcast booth includes a foreword by Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, a timeline of Fairly’s career from youth baseball in Long Beach, California, to the broadcast booth until his retirement in 2012, and a statistical summary of his 20 years as a major leaguer.
“My worst day in a baseball uniform was better than the best day I could have had in any other career.” Share those days with Ron in Fairly at Bat.
- For all readers, ages 12 and up.
- Published February 2018.
- Paperback edition: $13.99 (ISBN 978-0-9993967-2-8)
- Digital edition: $8.99 (ISBN 978-0-9993967-3-5)
=> “Ron Fairly has hit a grand slam with his great anecdotes from on and off the baseball diamond! With flair and style, his behind-the-scenes baseball insights – as a three-time L.A. Dodger World Champion – open the door for readers to peek into a great era of the game.”
~ Peter O’Malley, President, Los Angeles Dodgers, 1970-1998.
=> “Reading Ron’s joyful half-century journey thru baseball was my baseball card collection coming to life. Instead of flapping in the spokes of my Schwinn racer, there were Duke, Pee Wee, Koufax, Drysdale, Furillo and Campy as vivid as they were in my mind’s eye as they were on my Topps cards. Ron’s wonderful career as a player and broadcaster is a fun and breezy read.
~ Charley Steiner, play-by-play announcer, Los Angeles Dodgers Radio Network.
=> “This book is full of great anecdotes throughout, but as a longtime TV-Radio sports columnist, I particularly liked the ones that offer a behind-the-scenes look at sports broadcasting. We learn what can happen when the people in the production truck pass along bad information to a broadcaster, and we learn that what may always work for Vin Scully doesn’t always work for Ron Fairly. The anecdotes are the main reason this book is better than Fairly good.”
~ Larry Stewart, former Los Angeles Times TV-Radio sportswriter.
=> “Loved it! Loved it! Loved it! So many wonderful memories that Ron brought to life from his playing days … growing up with his father in Southern California, at USC with Rod Dedeaux, and most certainly his Dodger days in Vero Beach and Los Angeles, and with Donnie [Drysdale] and so many other important Dodgers! What a very important book for the history of baseball in Southern California and Dodger baseball in the early years, especially for ‘die hard’ Dodger fans!”
~ Ann Meyers Drysdale, Olympian, UCLA All-American, Member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, and widow of Don Drysdale.
How boxer Tim Bradley won championships and respect
By Bill Dwyre
Tim Bradley was a small kid who grew up in a place where a lot of people got into a lot of trouble. He was one of them. By the time he was 10, he had been thrown out of two schools. Then he learned how to box. The sport helped him channel his anger and become a five-time World Champion prizefighter. It also helped him become the family man of strong character that he is today.
“I knew I had to change,” Bradley said. “I knew that I had a thug mentality. I was pretty much a little monster. My dad told me he did not raise me to be a bully.” This is story of how he changed.
Author Bill Dwyre was the longtime Sports Editor of the Los Angeles Times. Named the National Press Foundation Editor of the Year, he also received the National Headliners Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1984 Olympic Games. As a columnist for the paper, he often wrote about boxing. In 2017, the Boxing Writers Association of America gave him the Nat Fleischer Award for career achievement.
- For middle-grade readers and up.
- Published October 2017.
- Paperback edition: $9.99 (ISBN 978-0-9993967-0-4)
- Digital edition: $6.99 (ISBN 978-0-9993967-1-1)
⇒ “You have heard the story of ‘The Little Engine That Could.’ I now read Hard to Heart and learn how a little boy who couldn’t control his anger learned that he could—and grew up to be champion of the world.” ~ Teddy Atlas, boxing trainer and ESPN fight commentator
⇒ “Tim Bradley proves you can be a great champion and a great man. That’s a rare combination. He’s an athlete we can look up to … and he’s a boxer! The Tim Bradley in the book shows how to grow and make choices that allow him to be a champion, father, and family man.” ~ Ron Shelton, Oscar-nominated film director and screenwriter, Bull Durham, Tin Cup, White Men Can’t Jump, Cobb, The Best of Times
⇒ “Timothy Bradley was never the most talented fighter in the world, but his ability to maximize his talent and reach the pinnacle of his sport gained him widespread admiration. Bill Dwyre’s wonderful writing touch brings Bradley’s inspirational story to life.” ~ Dylan Hernandez, sports columnist, Los Angeles Times