Must-own Sports Books, On The Heart Beat

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Published: 2024-02-21
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The pride in my heart is well into its fifth decade. 

The joy in my heart comes from rekindled friendships.

The grief in my heart comes from those I missed who are in repose.

I felt the above more acutely as I wrote The Early Days of ESPN – 300 Daydreams and Nightmares, the sometimes sexy tattle tales of my brothers and sisters who put their careers on the line to follow the ESPN vision from the get-go.

As I blog, I see seven books on ESPN, all written by authors who weren’t there.


The Early Days of ESPN was. 

These stories have been lurking in my subconscious for a long time and tell of ‘SPNauts who rode the rocket off a rickety launch pad and didn’t get a lot of credit.  

It will be published on June 4, and SportsEdTV is helping me put signed copies into the hands of sports fans and collectors.  You can order one here, and tell me what you’d like me to say.



For a guy who's spent a career-boosting other people's products, I find myself a bit squeamish touting my own, so here's what a  couple of friends and fellow 'SPNauts say about The Early Days of ESPN:

Chris Berman:  “We were like Mercury Astronauts, rebels without a clue working our asses off.”

Bob Ley:  “This is a compelling account of the people and the moments creating a landmark cultural institution.”


And finally, with the generous permission of Globe Pequot publisher and its Editor in Chief,  Rick Rinehart, here is the Preface to The Early Days of ESPN

During the 25th anniversary of ESPN’s frequently publicized first telecast of 7 p.m. on September 7, 1979, I wrote an article in Connecticut Magazine that carried a “Before the Before” headline chronicling the November 17, 1978, actual first telecast of the fledgling network.

I agree with all pickers of nits that we were then known as ESP Network, but c’mon.

We televised sports programming from that first basketball game, through the gymnastic, track and field, and baseball seasons intermittently, while we missionaried the all-sports religion to cable television moguls around the country during the 300 days before the second first ESPN telecast.

The point I made weakly then was that a makeshift tribe of pioneers, freelancers, and flat-out sports nuts managed to televise a series of University of Connecticut sports on the only satellite in the sky that allowed commercial television.

In the ensuing time, I came to understand the value those local folks brought to the revolution of television sports. It was an incredible time in the late 1970s and early 1980s when brashly, boldly, and perhaps a bit blindly, we did cause big-time puckering in the sports television c-suites.

I would also posit that our lightning-fast acceptance begat a viewing revolution birthing other network verticals that comprise a litany that begins with news, music, food, sex, religions, et al.

It is for those brash and bold early ’SPNauts that this work is aggregated.

As you’ll see, it weaves memories of mine, clear and clouded, and paraphrased from notes of interviews with key personalities.



You’ll read actual quotes from taped interviews.

And for me, the most interesting parts are the italicized in-their-own-words stories by colleagues and friends who have agreed that the rocket we rode left indelible memories and even a scar or two.

I invited as many SPNauts as I could aggregate and am grateful for those who participated. I understand those who elected to remain comfortable in their quiet.

To your and my never-ending pleasure, images, and artifacts foraged from musty cabinets and dusty attics were contributed.

Many of us are in repose, and many of our progeny have little or no knowledge of how big a contribution their parents or grandparents made to disrupting, improving, and certainly revolutionizing televised sports ESPN presents to sports fans everywhere, all day and every day.

We shared an extraordinary accomplishment, and our daydreams and nightmares needed telling before they dissolved into the ether.