One of the many joys of publishing is building relationships with our authors and sharing in their career success. I was reminded of our authors’ many successes recently when the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN) announced the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award winners.
Four of the five winners are HK authors:
- Steven N. Blair, PhD, is a professor at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. Few HK authors have been engaged at as many levels with HK as Steve. He’s authored multiple books, served as a journal editor, helped shape the Active Living Partners Program, and worked closely with HK on FitnessGram during his tenure as CEO of the Cooper Research Institute.
- Barbara Drinkwater is the author of two HK books, Exercise and Osteoporosis and Female Endurance Athletes. She also contributed to Physical Activity, Fitness, and Health.
- Boyd Epley, author of the HK title The Path to Athletic Power, is the founder of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. HK is currently the NSCA’s book publisher and also creates online education resources for the NSCA.
- Jane Katz, author of FitnessWorks. When HK moved into the consumer marketplace in the mid 1980s, Jane’s book was one of the first fitness titles we published.
The fifth winner is Kathleen Ann Cordes, who has written books in the recreation area. Unfortunately for HK, those books are with other publishers.
Our foremost goal in acquiring content is to identify the most knowledgeable and highly regarded authors and then help them shape their knowledge into products filling a need in our marketplaces. These authors—and thousands of others—have helped us achieve that goal over the past 40 years.
While the President’s Council celebrated these authors, another HK author was portrayed on the big screen. Tom House is the coach whom sport agent J.B. Bernstein recruits to turn cricket players Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel into baseball pitchers in the Disney movie Million Dollar Arm. Tom, who is played by actor Bill Paxton, wrote three books for HK: The Pitching Edge (which includes video), Fit to Pitch, and Stronger Arms and Upper Body.
I first met Tom at an American Baseball Coaches Conference where a scheduled 30-minute meeting turned into a 4-hour conversation that would lead HK to publish The Pitching Edge. Throughout his baseball and coaching career, Tom has had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He attended USC and played for the legendary collegiate coach Rod Dedeaux. Among his college teammates were Dave Kingman and Bill “Spaceman” Lee. While at USC, he tutored O.J. Simpson and formed a friendship with Tom Selleck, who later would become the title character in Magnum P.I.
Tom played in the major leagues from 1971 through 1978, pitching mostly in relief and winning 29 games. While pitching in Atlanta, he was in the bullpen on April 8, 1974, when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s record. Tom caught the ball. He then sprinted to home plate to give the ball to Aaron.
He would become the pitching coach for the Texas Rangers in 1985. There, he coached Nolan Ryan, who during his Hall of Fame induction said, “Tom is a coach that is always on the cutting edge. He would always come up with new training techniques that we would try and see how they would work in to my routine. I think I got in the best shape of my life during the years that I was with the Rangers.”
Tom took his innovative training ideas into football, working with quarterbacks Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Alex Smith, Terrelle Pryor, and Carson Palmer.
As Tom was writing The Pitching Edge, he suggested we meet to discuss the first chapters. So, Ted Miller (House’s editor at HK and now HK’s vice president and sports education director) and I drove to Chicago where the Rangers were playing the White Sox. We met that afternoon for several hours in the Rangers’ dugout at U.S. Cellular Field.
As we talked, only the crack of the bats from Sox players taking special batting practice echoed through the empty stadium. Now, that was a fun day at the office.