Great Feelings As A Writer!
by Paul Semendinger
August 11, 2023
Yesterday, I received a text message from a friend, "Your book was just on TV on the Yankees Magazine show."
I quickly taped the next episode so I wouldn't miss it.
And there it was:
On the Yankees Magazine program, they did a great job telling about Roy White and the book. It is a great feature.
Roy White and the book will be featured in the Augsut edition of the print magazine as well. I look forward, with great anticipation to getting a copy of Yankees Magazine to read more!
At about the same time, the recordings for the new radio ads for From Compton To the Bronx were sent for my review. (They are great!) Beginning this this Sunday, and running through the end of the month, there will be a advertisement for the book during the radiocast of each Yankees game. When I listen to the games, I'll get to hear my name on the radio.
This is all pretty cool stuff.
And in this there is a great lesson in life...
I have shared that before Roy White and I started this book project together that I did not know him. We had never met.
But, through some unique circumstances, I offered, through a colleague, to write this book with him. I never expected that this would actually take place and come to fruition, but it did. And because of my association and friendship with Roy White, I am a better person today.
The lesson, in short, is that in life, we have to be willing to take chances - we have to be willing to swing for the fences. We need to reach for the stars because sometimes, we just might catch a hold of something great. As I did.
I am so thrilled when I hear from people that they love the book. I am thrilled when I have the opportunity to be with Roy White promoting it. It's an amazing feeling to see the book on television, to hear about it on the radio, and to see it in bookstores.
This is how I share the story of how this book came to be in the introduction of From Compton to the Bronx:
We don’t usually get the chance to meet our heroes. Often, if we do, we find they aren’t like we hoped. Somehow our heroes fall short in so many ways. Many do. Maybe most. But not all. Some heroes turn out to be better people than we would have thought. Roy White turned out to be a better human being than I could have ever hoped or imagined.
It was late in 2021. I was still an elementary school principal at the time, working through my final year before retirement. I had written a few books. I had won a few writing awards. I ran a successful Yankees blog and was a frequent contributor on some baseball and sports podcasts. But in the world of writing and big media and all of that, I was a nobody.
My friend John “Mac” McGrath introduced me to Roy, sort of. He had interviewed Roy White for a podcast on the North East Streaming Sports Network. I was unable to participate, but I asked Mac to speak to Roy and to let him know that I would be happy to write his autobiography. I, and so many others, have always felt that Roy White’s story needed to be told. Mac did just that, and the next thing I knew, he sent me Roy White’s phone number.
One thing led to the next, we texted back and forth, and then Roy actually called me one day as I was driving home from work. After quickly recovering from shock, I pulled off on a side street and I told him of my hopes to write his story. Amazingly, a few days later, after thinking it over, he agreed. The next thing I knew, we were talking regularly on the phone and meeting at our favorite location, Panera Bread, to talk about his career, the Yankees, and more. Roy White and I met often. He’d talk. I’d ask questions and type as quickly as I could. Within seven or eight months, the initial draft of this manuscript was completed.
Every single time we met, Roy White was kind and humble and patient and accommodating. I never wanted to be a fan, I always wanted to be just me, the writer. I never wore a Yankees shirt or hat, although sometimes Roy White did. As we talked, we’d laugh. He’d tell great stories about my childhood heroes (and his heroes as well) and as he did, I just kept trying to get it all down and not miss a thing.
Who is Roy White as a person? I have a few stories that I believe illustrate who he is. First, he trusted me, and I’m not sure why, to write his story. This is a great honor for me. I had never before been befriended by a Major League Baseball player. And this was no ordinary player – this was a Yankees legend and a childhood hero. This was Roy White. Sometimes legends only associate with legends. It’s rare that one gives an unknown a shot at something great. But Roy White did.
Even today, Roy White is extremely popular. The cheers for him at Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium often ring the loudest. When people recognize him, they go out of their way to tell him how much he means to their lives – even today and even from afar. Roy White’s phone rings often – from all sorts of people who seek a story or a quote, or from old teammates and friends. Roy White remains extremely busy, yet, out of blue on Father’s Day I received a text from him wishing me a great day. This famous ballplayer took time from his day to remember me. That’s class.
As I stated, when we met, I tried to never be a fan. I was always the writer. I never asked for a photo together. I never asked for an autograph for myself. I did, though, ask for one favor. One of the twins from my childhood came down with colon cancer. I broke my own rule and asked Roy White to sign a card for him. Roy did this gladly. (When I gave the card to my old neighbor, his eyes filled with tears. It was that meaningful to him.)
In July 2022, I was interviewed about my Yankees book, The Least Among Them, on Pat Williams’ radio program. As we talked, he told me the following story:
Pat Williams began his professional sports career as a minor league baseball player. In his first game as a professional, his team was playing against the Ft. Lauderdale Yankees. This was a game in the lowest level of the minor leagues. In Williams’ first at bat, he struck out on three pitches. In his second at bat, he struck out on three pitches again. Things certainly were not going well for him. In his third at bat, he found himself down with no balls and two strikes. He was one pitch away from striking out for the third time, on only nine total pitches. He then swung at the next offering and connected and went to second base with a double. The second baseman on that Yankees team came over to congratulate him and welcome him to pro baseball. That player, the one who first made Pat Williams feel like a pro, the one who gave him some of his first words of encouragement, was Roy White. That’s who Roy White was. And it is who he still is today.
I have talked to a host of people about Roy White – former players, executives, coaches, and fans. The same words are said over and over. I’m told about what a kind and decent human being Roy White is. I’m told what a gentleman he is. I’m told about what a great baseball player he was – and what he meant to the Yankees and the fans. He was the single player who covered the era between the great Yankees teams of the 1960s and the World Championship Yankees of the late 1970s. Roy White was the only player to play for the Yankees for the entire decade of the 1970s. He is a Yankees legend. (And I believe it is unconscionable that he has not been recognized with a plaque in Monument Park in Yankee Stadium.)
But the word that people use most often when talking about Roy White is “class.”
That word defines him perfectly. Roy White is class. Roy White is, simply, a quiet, dignified, exceptional human being. That’s class. That’s Roy White—a true gentleman, a legend of the game, a Yankee. He was a Yankees legend, but he is an even better person.
This is his story. This is the story of Roy White.
I am honored that I had the opportunity to write this with him.