May 27, 2014
My friend Peter Golenbock has written sports histories and biographies and co-authored memoirs with a lot of guys who see the world as black and white. I suspect that in helping long-time Major League Baseball umpire Doug Harvey tell his story, it might have been the first time he did a book with someone who dressed that way as well. In They Called Me God: The Best Umpire Who Ever Lived, Golenbock goes over to baseball’s great unknown, a land where every decision is absolute – and for good reason.
PETER GOLENBOCK podcast excerpt: "Doug Harvey was a stickler for the rules. When Harvey was in the minor leagues, all the other umpires would go out to a bar. But he'd be back in hotel room to spend at least one hour a day reading the rules. He knew the rule book better than anybody else."
Can you imagine a world where an MLB umpire showed hesitation or a lack of uncertainy? No, neither can I. Doug Harvey’s personal story here is less compelling than his insight to baseball’s little revealed world of officiating. His stories of on-the-field behavior and his explanation of how he moved through the grand old pastime for decades was utterly fascinating, helped along by Golenbock’s expert storytelling.
PETER GOLENBOCK podcast excerpt: "People want to know what happened. They want the truth. They don't want some sort of scrubbed version. They want to know what you said and what the other people said. You just have a better book if you tell the truth."
This is Golenbock’s record fifth interview on Mr. Media – and that’s not just a function of proximity, although we do both live in St. Petersburg, Florida. The first time was at his dining room table, to talk about his controversial semi-fiction about Marilyn Monroe and The Mick, 7: The Mickey Mantle Novel. Since then we’ve done one by phone, one at a live on location show at JoEllen Schilke’s now-defunct Globe Coffee Lounge, and now we’re finally doing this one via video.
PETER GOLENBOCK podcast excerpt: "I had a contract to do a book with Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon and I was called into the principal's office. And the principal -- the GM of the team, Andrew Friedman -- told me that I could write the history of Joe Maddon in 50 years. I said, 'Why?' He said, 'We don't want you revealing any of our secrets.'"