Monday, August 2, 2010

The view from the Palomar

About to prepare for tonight's reading, but first, a photo of Westwood Village, near the UCLA campus. A perfect day, really. Now, on to thinking about what I'm going to say tonight....
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Baseball: The Tenth Inning NYC premiere

Amy K. Nelson, ESPN and Rachel Bachman, The Oregonian, and, of course, a box of Cracker Jacks.
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Baseball: The Tenth Inning NYC premiere

Co-filmmaker Lynn Novick and Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated. Lynn calling me asking if I would be interested in being part of the film was one of the great surprises. I was humbled by the invitation. Tom's voice in the film really brings power to each segment and the story of the 1996 Yankees, especially, to life.
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Baseball: The Tenth Inning NYC Premiere

The most tremendous moment of a tremendous night: sitting next to Rachel Robinson for the entire film. A very magical and humbling experience. The best part was when the film would show footage of Jackie, she would light up just a little. I hope she couldn't tell I was watching her reactions to the film as much as the film itself...
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Baseball: The Tenth Inning NYC premiere

Ken Burns and Keith Olbermann. Keith was tremendous last night, with keen insights on baseball and Shirley Sherrod and President Obama. My kinda discussion!
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Baseball: The Tenth Inning

I absolutely love the actor Keith David, and every time I talked to him last night, all I could think of was his great line in Dead Presidents: "Money to burn." When I finally did it, he laughed (Hey, you gotta give it up for dialogue!) The best part is he liked the new Shirt of Shirts!
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Baseball: The Tenth Inning

Ken Burns, he of the gift.
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Sunday, July 18, 2010


I have arrived at Northshire Books in Manchester Center, Vermont. Nice town!
Very, very nice event tonight at Northshire Books in Manchester Ctr., VT. Top-notch Indie bookstore, good crowd, great questions. Look forward to returning!

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Planes, trains, and finally, my automobile. Only the drive back to the Compound is left...! Good trip, though...
The Glamorous Life: In seat 12A heading back to Hartford with breakfast: a bottle of Cran-Grape and frosted strawberry Pop-Tarts.
Just in case it wasn't clear in the photo, yes, the Coleman Insect Repellent mascot walked around the set while I did my radio interview. Can't make this up...


The view from Delta 2707, seat 6F. Heading home!


Leaving the Pfister. Leaving Milwaukee. Great city, great event!


Signing at Page and Palette, Fairhope, Ala.


Signing at Page and Palette, Fairhope, Ala.


Andrew Young was right! Dr. King could play baseball!!


Dr. King kiosks, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport


The Glamorous Life: looking like Hell, feeling like it, too walking off of plane from Mobile to Atlanta.


The lobby of the famous Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee


Top billing at the Borders outside Milwaukee...


No baseball food this time, but a baseball theme!


The best turnout of the tour, so far...


Boswell Book Company, quiet after the reading...

Friday, June 18, 2010


Just got done doing an interview at Blain's Farm and Fleet, a Waukesha, WI department store next to a Coleman's bug spray mascot. The Glamorous Life indeed!
Many thanks to the good folks at the Carter Center in Atlanta and Page and Palette in Fairhope, Ala. Fantastic venues. Boswell's Books in Milwaukee awaits...


Mobile, 5:30 am. Two stops down, on to Milwaukee...

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Angela Bell, best media escort ever!


What an unbelievable landscape


The shirt of shirts still holds...


The Carter Center intro...


One of President Carter's Nobel Peace prizes...


Book signing at the Carter Center
The roadshow continues: Tonight, Page and Pallette in Mobile, Alabama, 6 pm. Tomorrow, Milwaukee, Boswell's Books...


The view from seat 3A leaving Atlanta heading to Mobile...
I apologize for the long absence. Technical difficulties have ended. I am back on! Thanks for your patience....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My apologies for being out of touch for a bit. In California for Jim Rome is Burning and looking forward to the Carter Presidential Library June 16 in Atlanta.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


T-minus two and counting...
Howard Bryant
Senior Writer and ESPN the Magazine
Cellular: (413) 695-8142
Office: (413) 628-4544

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Last Hero - a Book-of-the-Month selection...

The Book of the Month club. Who knew?

Henry and Willie, part I

Allen Barra of the Village Voice frames the Aaron-Mays discussion through the eyes of The Last Hero and James S. Hirsch's Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend.

Why am I snarling?

Why am I snarling? Because after four years of working on The Last Hero two weeks ago in final fact-checking mode, I was alerted to an error that won't be able to be corrected until the second printing of the book.

A section of Chapter 17 reads:

“He had worked for Colgate-Palmolive for eleven years before working with MNBA, striking upon an idea he believed was a winner: team logos on credit cards. A credit card with the San Francisco 49ers helmet on it? Here was a way for the fan to feel connected to his favorite team, Henneberry argued. The team could offer small discounts or points to be accumulated like frequent flier miles each time the card was used, double points if used at Candlestick Park or when purchasing tickets. Henneberry was twenty years ahead of his time. It was a moment of genius – the kind that can make a career – but the idea never got off the ground. MNBA soon folded. Henneberry was out, smoldering mad that life wasn’t fair (you can’t copyright ideas, after all) when a bigger credit card company, Visa, resurrected his idea and made a fortune.”

It should read:

“He worked for Colgate-Palmolive for eleven years before consulting for First Fidelity Bank and the NFL. His idea was a winner: team logos on credit cards. A credit card with a New York Giants helmet on it? Fans could feel connected to their teams, Henneberry argued, receiving discounts or bonus points to be accumulated like frequent flier miles on each purchase, double points if used at The Meadowlands or when purchasing tickets. Henneberry was twenty years ahead of his time. It was a moment of genius – the kind that can make a career – but Henneberry never got to expand the program to the other 29 teams. The league licensed the idea to Citibank. Henneberry was out (inches from a lucrative seven-percent commission), smoldering mad that life wasn’t fair (you can’t copyright ideas, after all). The Citibank later sold the portfolio to MBNA, which made a fortune."

"He" is Bill Henneberry, who was gracious enough to talk with me for about three hours over two or three occasions. Clearly, after our sprawling conversations, I did not transcribe properly. The failsafe - the uncorrected galley proof - was too late. Bill caught the error, alerted me, but it was too late. The finished books were already being printed. No changes could be made. That ship had sailed.  

How do these things happen? On a 210,000-word book quite easily - if you don't double and triple-check every word, phrase, anecdote. The correction will be made, but it was my mistake, and it will eat at me for longer than I care to count.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Reviews The Last Hero

A kind, very nice review from Allen Barra, a knowledgeable and demanding baseball writer. With a week to go before TLH is officially available in stores, a truth is revealed: once you deliver it, once it exists between two covers, it isn't your anymore - a hard fact to face after working on a project for four years.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

And coming later today, he says, snarling, a conversation I'd rather not have...Stay tuned.

Friday, April 30, 2010

A Quick Q+A regarding The Last Hero


After my second book, Juicing the Game, the natural progression for my thought process was heading toward one question: “Who in baseball do you admire? Is there anyone this sport can be proud of?” It wasn’t simply the fatigue of writing about steroids and tainted heroes that drifted me toward Henry Aaron, but because the steroids scandal occurring during the same time as the housing/mortgage scandal removed from Enron told me something larger was taking place in this country, that the value systems we ostensibly seek _ honor, integrity, accountability _ were becoming almost quaint. In baseball, as the drug scandal intensified, players would tell me “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” It was that level of cynicism that made me consider writing about someone who certainly was not perfect but had a larger mission for himself beyond money, that here was a person for whom those values are not quaint.


It took roughly eighteen months for him to agree to speak with me. I first began working on this project in May 2006 and that was in the middle of Barry Bonds nearing Henry’s record. Henry Aaron wanted nothing to do with the Bonds record chase. He didn’t want to be asked questions about Bonds, did not want to be placed in the debate about anabolic steroids. He did not want to engage at all.

When Henry’s attorney, Allan Tanenbaum, and I spoke for the first time, he was extremely pessimistic about the book and the public’s reaction to Henry Aaron. He was convinced that the public did not care about him except in being positioned as the polar opposite to Bonds. He was certain that I was only interested in one thing: Bonds. Over many phone calls spanning several months, Allan finally acknowledged (the key conversation taking place over Thanksgiving 2007) that my motives for writing the book had nothing to do with Bonds and everything to do with a man I considered to be an American icon.

A few months later, on January 31 (ironically on Jackie Robinson’s birth date), Henry Aaron and I had our first phone call. He was extremely pleasant and engaging, but echoed Allan’s sentiments about his own life. “People don’t care about me,” he told me. “They only care about what I did as a baseball player. There’s more to me than that.” I was amazed at the considerable divide that existed between the enthusiasm I received whenever I mentioned the possibility of writing about Henry and what he considered to be the public’s perception of him.

In the end, he was cooperative but clearly was ambivalent about the book being written.


There were many surprising aspects of the research, which is why I truly love to research and write books. Whatever your initial thoughts of your subject are will invariably be altered the deeper you learn.

I was as guilty as anyone in following the accepted Aaron myth: played in Milwaukee, was always overshadowed by players in bigger markets, snuck up on even the shrewdest evaluators of talent from the day he entered the big leagues to the day when suddenly it was he and not Willie Mays who was in the best position to break Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record.

None of this is true, and that was the most surprising thing. Henry Aaron was a phenom, a top prospect from the day he joined the Indianapolis Clowns. He was a comet, tearing through each level in the minor leagues and when he arrived for his first spring in Bradenton, Florida 1954, all eyes were on him to be the next great player.

The myth came later. As the Milwaukee Braves fell in the standings at the beginning of the 1960s, people did begin to forget about Henry, and he quietly accumulated Hall of Fame numbers. But that was only because the public lost interest in a losing team, not because it was unaware of his enormous ability.


The famed sociologist told me during an interview that the steroid scandal has created a gap between the record holders and the standard bearers of major league baseball. Barry Bonds is a record holder. Henry Aaron is a standard bearer. The latter is far more important and valuable than the former.

And it carries weight beyond the baseball diamond, where Henry always wanted respect. He spent his life being compared on the baseball diamond to Willie Mays, but what Henry Aaron wanted to follow in the legacy of Jackie Robinson, to use his platform to provide opportunities for people who did not have them. Baseball was simply a means to that end.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hello all,

The official publication date of The Last Hero is Tuesday, May 11, which means, naturally, that there are finished copies of the book floating around the world now, April 29. A friend told me he purchased the book at The Strand bookstore in the East Village in New York.

So, things are happening. I will post here a list of events, happenings, anecdotes and such along the book trail, and will check in frequently anyone has thoughts, questions or comments.

Today's news: An excerpt is  confirmed for ESPN the Magazine.

I have thoughts...

At Broadside Bookshop in Northampton, talking about The Heritage. Full house, great questions...sold a bunch of books, too. Bonus! Thank you...