Monday, October 14, 2013
Louisiana sports history as good as it gets
I don't make a habit of recommending books to buy, but I have one that's close to my heart and I'm a bit partial because I helped edit it.
Game Changers: The Rousing Legacy of Louisiana Sports has just been published, and it would be a perfect Christmas gift -- or a gift at any time -- for any sports fan, but particularly those from our home state.
Because Louisiana has produced as many great athletes, teams and sports moments as any state in this country. Might get arguments about that from New York, California and the state where I live now -- that big one right next to Louisiana. Argue away; you'll never change my mind.
The book's author is Marty Mule', who has been one of Louisiana's best sportswriters for nearly 50 years, and this is a state -- again I'm partial -- that is much stronger in sportswriting than most people would believe.
This is the eighth book by Marty, who was in high school in New Orleans and at LSU at about the same time I was in Shreveport and then at Louisiana Tech. For more than 30 years, he was on the sports staff of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and he has a wealth of knowledge about the state's sports history and its players and coaches.
The idea behind this book was the new Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame facility in downtown Natchitoches. The plan was to have the book ready for the Grand Opening on June 28.
That didn't work out, but it's here now, and it's a publication worthy of accompanying the beautiful new building.
Believe me, Marty doesn't need a lot of editing. The stories in this book are well-written and well-researched, with plenty of depth and color. Marty is a fine story-teller.
It is 213 pages, with 87 chapters, so it might take you a couple of hours to read it. It has plenty of LSU and New Orleans Saints football, and a broad range of other subjects.
I got involved when someone recommended to Marty that he check with me for ideas about the chapters on high school athletics. Until I left the state for good in 1988, that was one of my main interests, but of course, plenty of other sportswriting types in Louisiana had the same interest.
I contributed some ideas, then proofread what Marty had done on high school athletics, plus a chapter he had sent on another subject with which he knew I had some familiarity: Louisiana Techsters basketball.
He then asked me to proofread/edit some additional chapters, and it grew from there until I had helped with much of the book. It was a fun project that took up just a little more time than I had first imagined; I'm terribly busy these days.
But after a brief holdout -- I'm just kidding, OK -- the sponsoring Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation agreed to pay me a bundle (three figures) for my services.
It really was a pleasure to do. I do love the state, and love the sports history, and am proud to have been able to watch and write about just a few of the people and events.
In addition to the chapters that are about or mention my Woodlawn High School connections -- Lee Hedges, A.L. Williams, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Ferguson and Robert Parish -- one of my favorite chapters is about Orville Kince Davis ... O.K. "Buddy" Davis, the longtime Ruston Daily Leader sports editor who is one of my closest sportswriting friends in the state. We were Louisiana Tech students at the same time all those years ago.
Marty wrote the chapter because of Buddy's ties with one of the state's greatest legends, Eddie Robinson, and with Grambling College athletics, and it was written long before Buddy's health challenges surfaced shortly after the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame opening.
Coach Eddie is one of the main characters covered early in the book -- right after the Saints' glorious 2009 Super Bowl season. But that's only the beginning of an interesting journey through Louisiana sports.
I would like to guarantee that the book is accurate. And just to make it easy for you to order the book, here is the web page: https://sites.google.com/site/louisianagamechangers/
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. Good reading.