Athlete For Hire
A professional sports team owner (baseball, football, and basketball) meets with his general managers to discuss a highly acclaimed college athlete featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. His proficiency is in the three sports identified. When the owner becomes disgruntled with the fact that all three of his general managers want the athlete for their respective sport, he exclaims, “Why can’t we draft this kid for all three of my teams?” As the college senior competes in each sport during the year, a “due diligence” plan is prepared and successfully implemented to have the athlete drafted by all three professional teams. Will the three sport phenom agree to sign a contract requiring him to be available on an as-needed basis for each sport? Will he become an Athlete for Hire?
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*Book cover in video shows original cover prior to republishing.
The concept of Athlete for Hire (AFH) was first conceived in the 1970s. Shit, it was so long ago; I have forgotten some of the particulars. I had fancied myself as an all-around athlete in my youth, and I postulated that coupling this angle with a “major sports team owner” character with flair, creativity, and a thirst for power could be the basis for a book or movie. I knew I also wanted to include some of the fun stuff from my experiences during four years of earning a degree in civil engineering from Manhattan College (located in the Bronx, by the way, not Manhattan).
After years of dabbling with the concept, I decided it was time to leave a position as an executive VP and chief operating officer of a civil engineering firm and truly spend the required time to develop and write AFH. I wrote the outline and submitted it for copyright protection. After some introspective thinking, it became apparent that the preliminary way to develop AFH was as a TV script. ScriptBuddy became a pal. It was interesting to further develop the characters, the settings, and what could be a pilot episode. Then came the further specifics of what could be a first-year plan for a TV series—an outline for thirteen episodes.
The athlete character was required to be developed. OK, he’ll be a wide receiver in football, my favorite position. He would be a center fielder. I typically played third base but felt that analogies to the Mick would make for better copy. He had to be a guard in basketball, just based on height restrictions alone. It’s OK; he wouldn’t have the white man’s “lack of jumping ability” disease like I did. I could play a little, but my best roundball move was running down through a myriad of spectators, from the third level of Madison Square Garden onto the court during a Manhattan College NIT semifinal game against the Army Black Knights in 1970. (Hey, the ref made a bad call!) Budweiser helped give me the courage to confront the Army coach, Bobby Knight.
My initial thoughts relative to the “major sports team owner” character was a combination of several people—George Steinbrenner, Sonny Werblin, and the imaginative owner of the Oakland A’s, Charlie Finley. That was many years ago. The owner character needed to evolve to a present-day personality with flamboyance and vision. I was now also thinking of Mark Cuban, Jerry Jones, and perhaps the new Steinbrenner on the scene, Hal.
Early on, my brother, John, and my cousin Roger were enthusiastic supporters. Constructive comments were offered. My two sons, Marc and Scott, were somewhat less ecstatic. “What the hell is Dad doing? He’s a freakin’ engineer!” I decided to get a professional involved—my cousin Carole. Her vast experience as a public relations consultant and publicist was a blessing. She liked the concept.
My cousin Roger became really hooked on the pilot. He became my “behind the scenes” agent, telling everyone he knew about AFH. I had given him several copies of the script, and he forced the reading on several friends. “Everyone I show this to thinks it is a great concept and loves the way it is developed.” I was getting a swelled head; too bad it was not where it counted.
Then there was another brainstorm. Why not write a book based on the outline that had been developed? Carole promoted and encouraged the idea. I had basically just completed my first book, a historical fiction work about three Hall of Fame center fielder — Willie, Mickey, and Duke. “8”: Center Field in New York, 1951– 1957 was told through the eyes of three thirteen- year- old friends as they jointly completed their required book report in the autumn of 1957. I knew I wanted to make a few modifications on this book, so I put it on hold. That’s when I began writing AFH.
Choosing the character names was enjoyable and relatively easy: my sons’ names for the two main characters, my brother for the AFH best friend, my deceased wife for the chief assistant to the owner, my cousin for one of the general managers, and many other friends and relatives in various roles. I even gave myself a minor role as the college football coach. Hell, I can still run a down and out and catch a spiraling Wilson or Spalding pigskin!
Adding the sports angle for football, baseball, and basketball; some actual events in my life with family and friends; and inserting a few other concepts that I had previously copyrighted produced the final recipe for Athlete for Hire.
After the publication of four additional books, a historical fiction sports trilogy of three best friends from childhood, and delving into a crime mystery with religious, family, and sports overtones, I decided to update Athlete for Hire and publish the unique concept again.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.