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Alums Author Sox Books

 Alums Author Sox BooksIn the wake of Boston's historic 2004 World Series victory, Tufts graduates and Red Sox writers Tony Massarotti and Bill Nowlin each examined the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [05.05.05] When the Boston Red Sox broke an 86-year drought and won the World Series in 2004, the event spawned shelves' worth of books reliving the season. Two Tufts graduates who combined have spent decades writing about the Olde Towne Team each penned a look at the rivalry that gets any Sox fan's heart thumping - Boston versus New York.

Tony Massarotti (A'89), who has been covering the Red Sox for the Boston Herald since the early 1990s, and Bill Nowlin (A'66, '80), co-founder of Rounder Records and author of 10 books about the Red Sox, have different backgrounds when it comes to writing, but one thing they share is their Tufts connection.

 



AUDIO:
Bill Nowlin talks about his favorite part of his book -- two historic photos summing up the heated Boston-New York rivalry.
When did Tony Massarotti think the Sox had a shot at winning it all?

 


Massarotti's book, A Tale of Two Cities: The 2004 Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry and the War for the Pennant, is his first, co-authored with New York Daily News Yankees beat writer John Harper.

"We thought that it might make a good book to write about both teams at the same time going into 2004 with the hopes that they would both end up in the [American League] championship series again," says Massarotti. They decided on doing the book in March 2004, well before either of them knew how the season would end up.

"Obviously the story line turned out better than we could have hoped for," he says.

Nowlin and co-author Jim Prime, with whom he has written other volumes on the Sox, conceived Blood Feud: The Red Sox, the Yankees, and the Struggle of Good versus Evil a few years ago, noticing there was only a handful of books out at the time on the Sox-Yankees rivalry. In subsequent years, other projects consumed their time, but after Boston's heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, a sense of urgency hit the pair.

"After Game 7, I fired off an e-mail to Jim and said, 'Listen, we just have to do that right now,'" Nowlin recalls.

The rivalry between the two clubs is legendary, and Boston's comeback from the brink of elimination in the ALCS only furthers the legend, says Massarotti .

"You didn't have to be a fan of either team to appreciate those games and to me that's usually the best measure of what kind of competition it is, if you don't have a vested interest and you're glued to it," he explains. "I think that those games probably did that to people all across the country."

But Nowlin believes that the regional aspects of the rivalry and the local focus on it cannot be overstated.

"I think the combination of the fairly intense feelings that fans in the two cities have for each other is magnified when the media focuses on it," he says. "It just whips them up further."

Well before the 2004 season, Nowlin and Prime had completed much of the research that helped flesh out the book, such as stories about the "border wars" of Sox and Yankees residents in Connecticut and Rhode Island and player transactions between the two teams. After the Sox clinched the World Series, the rush to complete the book by spring training began.

For Nowlin, the biggest challenge in writing the book seemed to be simply pinning down "the thing" between these two ballclubs. "What is the story? Where does it come from?" he asks.

Nowlin released another Red Sox book this spring - The Kid: Ted Williams in San Diego, which he edited - and he has a few more in the works, including Ted Williams At War, about the Sox slugger's combat time in Korea, and The 50 Greatest Red Sox Games (He plans to co-author this with Cecilia Tan, who wrote The 50 Greatest Yankee Games. "I said, 'Hey, you've got to give the Red Sox equal time,'" he recalls.).

Massarotti says that he had to balance writing the A Tale of Two Cities with his obligations to the Herald.

"John and I both cover on our teams on a fairly regular basis, so it wasn't as if we took a leave of absence to go out and do the book," he explains.

The longtime Red Sox beat writer says his Tufts experience helped foster his interest in writing as a career, including both newspapers and books.

"I always had an interest in the media. When I got there I became much more interested in writing, in part because I became involved with the [Tufts] Daily," Massarotti recalls. "Also, I took a course with Michael Ullman, advanced expository writing, that I remember at the time I absolutely loved. Somewhere along the line, I just got hooked... I remember back in college thinking that I would like to write a book one day, and now I would like to write books," he says, emphasizing the plural.

Massarotti has no immediate plans for another book, but he sees himself writing about baseball again or even diving into fiction.

While Nowlin was certain that he'd write at least one book someday, the record label founder with a doctorate in education from Tufts took a circuitous route in getting there.

"Even before I went to Tufts I always thought I'd be an author," says Nowlin. "I was half a century old before I got there." But he did get to catch his fair number of Sox games while a student, including the 1965 no-hitter by Dave Morehead (Nowlin asserts he attended after classes were done for the day. "I was pretty good about attendance," he says.).

Despite their immersion in all things Red Sox, both authors - like many Sox fans - still seem to be in disbelief about how last season ended.

"Nobody could have dreamed up last year," says Massarotti. "I don't know that we'll ever cover anything bigger, at least not in Boston, as a sports story."

"It still happens about once a week that I pinch myself," says Nowlin. "A Hollywood screenwriter who tried to pitch that story would have been drummed out of town."

So what do these two Sox experts think of the team's chances to win again in 2005?

Massarotti is doubtful. "Right now I don't see them as being the type of team that can repeat as a champion," he says. Nowlin is more optimistic - but like any Sox fan, only slightly.

"I don't think we'll be waiting 86 years again," he predicts.

 

 

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