A few months ago Glenn Stout, the well-regarded editor of the Best American Sports Writing series of books, contacted me about doing some lengthy pieces for SB Nation. The pay was solid, the chance to work with Glenn was enticing … but the best part was his openness. Glenn wanted stories writers wanted to write; stories that moved them to pick up a pen (well, sit behind a keyboard) and peck away. This, to me, was incredibly refreshing. Oftentimes we’re looking for story ideas that editors might want. Here, an editor was looking for a story idea I’d like to do.
Hence, I pitched Glenn on the idea of the magical moment when an athlete emerges from a small town. Specifically, I told him about Dave Fleming, a kid from up the street in Mahopac, N.Y. who, in the dazzling year of 1992, won 17 games as a rookie for the Seattle Mariners.
Glenn was all in, and what ensued was a joyful, blissful experience of re-living my childhood thoughts and feelings and experiences. I was 14 again, watching Dave dribble in his driveway; watching Dave throw strikes against Carmel High. I spent a wonderful afternoon with Dave at a Starbucks near his home; returned to Mahopac to drive through the old neighborhood; called old friends and long-lost neighbors. It was great. And emotional.
Today, the piece ran. I’m not saying it’s the best thing I’ve ever done—but it feels the best.
Here’s the link to MAHOPAC SUMMER: HOW ONE PLAYER CAN CHANGE A SMALL TOWN.