SSTN Interviews Author Dr. Paul Semendinger
Today we turn the tables a bit and interview Dr. Paul Semendinger, our Editor-in-Chief and the author of the brand new book The Least Among Them. Dr. Semendinger has also written the award winning novel Scattering the Ashes and two books of motivational stories Impossible is an Illusion and Possibility is Everything (which was also just published).
As an aside, I’m currently reading The Least Among Them. I highly reccomend it for any Yankee fan.
Paul, it is great to have this discussion with you.
Thanks for thinking to do this Mike. It’s nice to be on the other side of the interview.
To begin, please tell us how you became a baseball fan.
I think there were a few factors. I remember hearing the kids at school talking about the Yankees the Chris Chambliss home run, though I was on the periphery of those discussions and if they sparked something, it was slow to rise up and capture me.
I also remember my dad buying a huge box of baseball cards at a flea market and then sorting and resorting those cards over and over and then starting to buy new cards in 1977 as my interest in the game grew.
I also knew that my neighbors across the street, the two coolest people I knew, were Yankees fans.
All those things came together as a critical mass in the summer of 1977. I started to watch games and read magazines about baseball.
And then when Reggie Jackson hit those three homers, well, I was hooked for good. I have loved the game, but even more the Yankees, ever since.
You’ve been a Yankees fan since 1977. Has there ever been a time when you’ve wanted to give up on them?
No, not really. There have been years when I have been frustrated (2021) by what I saw on the field, there have been years (2014) when I wasn’t as interested in the day-to-day saga of the team, but the Yankees have been part of me and my daily thoughts each and every day since 1977.
Why did you start writing Start Spreading The News?
I have always loved writing and I had the dream (and am now living the dream) of being a published author. One of the ways to get noticed is to write publicly. I reached out to this site’s predecessor, It’s About The Money and asked if they’d let me write for them. They agreed!
After a few months, the person who ran the site, E.J. Fagan (now of the Bronx Beat Podcast and the Start Spreading the News You Tube Show) told me that they were going to shut it down. I asked if I could buy the blog from him and we made a deal. The stipulation though was that I’d have to give the blog a new name. My friend Michael Saffer suggested Start Spreading the News and the site was born.
I have invested a lot of time, effort, and energy into this blog. It’s a ton of work, more than anyone could imagine, but I love doing it. I love the Yankees. I love sharing my thoughts about the Yankees. I am always honest with my perspectives, as are all the writers, which is something I think makes us somewhat unique. We also keep the content clean and respectful so fans of all ages can enjoy the material. That also makes us different than many other sites.
Please tell us about The Least Among Them.
How long do you want this interview to be? (I could go on and on…)
This book has received a tremendous amount of positive reviews. I am so honored.
The Least Among Them tells the story of the 29 Yankees whose entire career lasted but one game as a Yankee. These forgotten players deserve to have the tales of their careers told and shared alongside those of the greats who we have all read about. In writing this book, I did just that.
The book also looks at some famous and not so famous moments of Yankees history and shares those stories as well.
It is a unique book, and is thoroughly original. I am glad so many people have enjoyed it so far.
It sounds great. How was the book launch event at the Yogi Berra Museum?
Amazing. A lot of people came to support me and share in the release of the book. So so so many people assisted me with the book through the entire lengthy writing process. It was great to see many of them, and many others, to talk about the book and thank everyone.
Having the chance to talk and present at the Yogi Berra Museum was extremely special and meaningful. The staff there was so kind and accommodating to me.
Now that the book is “launched,” I am beginning to arrange for book talks at local libraries and other venues. I love meeting and talking with other baseball fans. If you would like me to visit your library or book store, please reach out through the blog. I would love to see if we can arrange something.
Why, do you believe, are people so drawn to baseball and its stories, legends, and people?
Baseball is a very special sport because it is timeless and unique. So many other sports are just variations on the same theme – they play on a rectangle and try to get an object over a line or in a goal. Hockey, football, soccer, basketball, and so many others are just variations on that same theme. In baseball, the game is completely different.
Among the big sports, baseball is unique. There is no clock. A game could last forever. The season does seem last forever and it takes us from the hopes of spring to the realities of autumn. In this, baseball mirrors life.
Baseball also has so many legends and stories.
And, I don’t quite know why, but it’s more of a family game that is passed on down through the generations.
Baseball is a wonderful sport, the best there is.
Please share, if you can, the current projects you are working on? When will we see you next book?
I do have some other book ideas. I have the initial draft of a new novel completed. I’m not ready to talk about it yet though. I promise it’ll be great when it’s completed.
There’s a lot of talk about baseball needing to be “fixed.” Is baseball broken? If you were the Commissioner of Baseball what change(s) if any would you make to the current game?
Baseball is not broken, the decision makers who keep tinkering with the game just make it seem broken. They should just leave the game alone and let it evolve. As teams seek to find the critical edge, they change and modify and find new ways. There will be a team that wins with Three True Outcome baseball so other teams will copy that, but then a team will win through speed and defense and that will be the new thing. This is how the game evolves. This keeps the game fresh and exciting. There is no one way to win. But, when the game’s decision makers make rules to push back against current trends, they wreck this ebb and flow.
There will be a team that builds a lineup of players that can always beat the shift. That’s how the shift will go away. It shouldn’t go away because of new rules.
If I were making any changes, since instant replay is here, I would make sure that all calls are correct, not just some. I would add a fifth umpire to check the close plays. There should be no challenges, just the desire to get the calls correct.
I’d also speed up the game by shortening the commercial breaks between innings.
Finally, there would be no more 7-inning double headers. No three-batter rule for relief pitchers. And no man on second to begin extra innings. Those are horrible rules – the worst of the worst.
Finally, add the DH to the National League.
So, maybe I’d make a few changes, but, by-and-large, I say leave the game alone and it’ll be fine.
In looking at the history of the Yankees, or baseball in general, what person or event would you like to see a book written about?
I wrote a book about the 29 least known Yankees, that’s original.
I ask this question in my interviews because I love to hear what others think.
There is so much Yankees history that’s been told, but so much also that’s never been told.
I’d love for Brian Cashman to write about all the deals he made, why he made the deals, and such. I’d love to understand all his reasoning and decision making. “I made this trade because…” That would be a great read.
So often players write books when they are bitter. I’d love to see some books that revisit the careers of players like Sparky Lyle and Graig Nettles.
In the book and the movie The Natural, the main character wants nothing more than to walk down the street and have people say, “There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was.” Who was the best baseball player you ever saw?
I ask this question a lot, but it’s so difficult to answer.
As a kid, Reggie Jackson was bigger than life, but, then again all the Yankees were.
In the mid-1980s, there was no one better than Don Mattingly to me.
All told, though, the best player, the complete package, it would have to be Rickey Henderson: speed, power, an on-base machine, and more.
Shohei Ohtani is a marvel. He’s completely unique, and since he can pitch, and hit, he just might be the best I’ll ever see.
Our final question is really just a collection of short answers…
What was your favorite baseball team growing up?
The Yankees. Easy.
Who was your favorite player?
What is your most prized collectible?
I don’t have many items that have monetary value, but I do have a host of items, too many to list, that have a great deal of sentimental and personal value to me.
My ticket stub from Game 6 of the 1996 World Series means a lot to me. I was at that game with my dad.
Who is your favorite musical group or artist?
The Beatles. Hands down. 100%. I’m a big Beatles fan.
My second favorite group has always been Queen. The first album I ever owned was The Game.
What is your favorite food (if it is pizza, what is your favorite pizza restaurant)?
Pizza. I could eat pizza for every meal (well, maybe not breakfast).
There are so many great pizza places in Bergen County, New Jersey. The Pizza Parlor (Wyckoff), Kinchley’s and LaGondola (Ramsey), Turvino’s (Glen Rock), Santoni’s (Ridgewood), Uncle Louie’s (Franklin Lakes)…
I could go on and on and on and on.
Please share anything else you’d like with our audience –
Thank you to all for all the support you provide to us. I love talking baseball with all of you. Thanks for making this site so special to so many.
And, of course, Let’s Go Yankees!
Thank you Paul. It was fun to give you the chance to share your thoughts in this way.