I usually hate it when someone asks me which of my books or short stories is my favorite. It’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. Can’t be done.
But there is one book that I take the most pride in having written and published. From The Fields. It tells of the history of high school football played over the first 95 years in my hometown of Turlock, California. I spent many years researching it, interviewing as many former players as I could find from the older teams, putting together the stats and rosters and then releasing it.
It was well received and even led to my writing the proclamation from the City of Turlock to honor the 1957 State Championship team. Now, that was a thrill.
I’m planning on releasing a second edition next year as this season will be the 100th season of football played in Turlock. The next edition will cover the first full century with updated stats and information I’ve gathered since the first edition was released.
Nearly all of my research notes and copies of game stories and boxscores was donated to the Turlock Museum in case anyone wanted to rummage through some of that material. I kept one or two items that had a special connection. One item that I did not donate or keep was the original photo frame from the Topps trading card company for Buffalo Bills lineman Jeff Winans. To my knowledge, this photo was never used for a card.
He graduated from Turlock High, went on to play for USC and then in the NFL. He died shortly before I began researching the book. The interview with his widow was one of the most emotionally rough interviews I have ever done. There is an entire chapter devoted to his story in this book.
After the book was released, I mailed that one-of-a-kind photo – basically a large Kodachrome slide (I scanned it so I’d have a digital copy – (at left)) – to her so that she and Jeff’s son could have it. Being able to find that item and get it to where it belonged might have been the best thing connected to that book.
When I set out to write the book, I did so because properly chronicling the history of the game connected to Turlock’s schools was the one thing I could do for my hometown. There were many of Turlock’s sons that had been forgotten so many decades after they had played. Now, what they did both on and off the field has been preserved.
Tonight, the 100th season kicks off in Turlock with the Bulldogs playing at home. I won’t be there in person. But I will be there in spirit, along with all of the young men who wore the Bulldogs’ Blue and Gold, The Pride’s Green and Silver and the Eagles’ Red, White and Blue.