Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Don Haskins (left) and Ray Sanchez at a booksigning to promote the rerelease of Haskins: The Bear Facts.
Sanchez talks with Josh Lucas, who plays Coach Haskins in the upcoming Disney film Glory Road.

iU Author Ray Sanchez
Helps Pave Glory Road

Disney’s new film Glory Road chronicles the high point of legendary basketball coach Don Haskins career, his run to the 1966 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship with Texas Western (now known as the University of Texas-El Paso).

Haskins and his Texas Western team made history by being the first team to start five African-American players in the championship game. The contrast between the two teams in the final was stark as the Texas Western Miners faced an all-white team from the University of Kentucky.

El Paso sportswriter Ray Sanchez reported on Haskins’ team and later published two books, Haskins: The Bear Facts and Basketball’s Biggest Upset. Both books have been reissued through iUniverse’s Authors Choice/Out-Of-Print program.

How did you first become involved with Coach Haskins on his biography?
As a sportswriter and sports editor I followed and covered Don Haskins' career since he arrived in El Paso in 1961. In fact, I was the first news person he met on his arrival in El Paso. We began a long and exciting connection and friendship.

Can you describe the process of writing Haskins: The Bear Facts?
Haskins became the greatest coach in the history of University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and one of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball. But no one had ever written a book about him so I took on the task myself. After much urging, he agreed to co-operate with me on his autobiography. We would meet in early mornings (he was still coaching then, 1986) for many days and he told me the history of his life. The book, Haskins: The Bear Facts, was published in 1987 and was re-released this year with an update.

What was your involvement with the new movie Glory Road?
The whole process of the movie Glory Road started with my books. Screenwriter Christopher Cleveland called me, said he had read both Haskins: The Bear Facts and Basketball's Biggest Upset and wanted to do a movie. He and Disney Studios used my books extensively for background and I became a consultant for the movie. I'm officially listed as a consultant in the credits. I helped Christopher with the script, all the players in the movie were provided a copy of Basketball's Biggest Upset and I helped actor Josh Lucas, who portrayed Haskins in the movie, with background on the personal habits and personality of the coach. I also helped Disney researchers and provided them with information.

What led you to republish the books with iUniverse?
The demand for both books increased with the announcement of the movie. I sought advice on re-publishing them from Jim Fensch, who had published many books with iUniverse before. He had moved to El Paso. He encouraged me strongly to contact iUniverse because he had much success with that company.

How has the process with iUniverse worked for you?
Fantastic. The people are friendly, co-operative and have done one whale of a job.

You were at the El Paso Herald-Post for the Texas Western championship. Tell us more about your journalism career and what you are up to today.
I started as a sport writer at the El Paso Herald-Post while still in college (Texas Western College then) and went on to become sports editor. I covered almost every conceivable major sport, including Super Bowls, World Series games, Triple Crown races, the Dallas Cowboys and, of course, the Miners and NCAA events. After my retirement in 1990 my services were highly sought locally. I wrote a weekly column for the El Paso Times and I am now writing a sports column for a new paper here, El Paso Inc. I am also freelancing. I have written or co-written four other books. They're The gods of Racing, Baseball: From Browns to Diablos, El Paso's Greatest Sports Heroes I Have Known and The Miners: The History of Sports at University of Texas at El Paso.

I have received many awards, including Scripps Howard awards for column writing and news reporting and have received UTEP's highest honor for journalism, the Hicks-Middagh award for "Excellence in Journalism."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Angels book comes
Out of the Blue

While the Boston Red Sox’s “Reversing the Curse” run to the 2004 World Series Championship has been well-chronicled and who knows what kind of tomes the White Sox 2005 title will bring, not all World Series championships are as well documented.

Joe Haakenson helps give the 2002 Anaheim Angels their due with Out of the Blue, published with iUniverse.

Haakenson, who covered the Angels for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, a group of papers that includes the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Pasadena Star-News and San Gabriel Valley Tribune among others, was pleased with his iUniverse experience.

“I’m happy with it overall,” he said. “I especially like how the cover and back cover came out. However, the quality of the pictures on the interior were not as good as I expected.

“The production process went smoothly. Cecilia (Cuevas) was my contact and she was helpful with the questions I had.”

Haakenson said he has some modest plans to market the book since it is coming out three years after the championship season.

“I’m hoping to get an advertisement in the newspaper I worked for,” he said. “I feel a little weird trying to come out and advertise hard now considering the book is on the championship season of 2002, over three years ago.

“I’ve gotten a word of congratulations from one of the top people in the team’s front office. I plan to sign a copy to give to the manager, Mike Scioscia. I’m going to look into finding out if they would be able to put the book in the gift store at the stadium.”

Haakenson, who is now the sports editor at the Long Beach Press-Telegram, has several other ideas for books kicking around.

“I would like to write more books,” he said. “Probably related to Major League Baseball. I also have an idea for a fictional story revolving around a baseball beat writer.”

Haakenson had shopped Out of the Blue to traditional publishers before coming to iUniverse.

“The traditional publishers seemed very excited and led me to believe there was a chance of publishing with them. Ultimately, they weren’t serious,” Haakenson said.

“I received advertising emails from numerous self-publishing companies that I’d look at now and again. For some reason, iUniverse stuck out. I don’t know exactly why. I think the simplicity of the process is very important. Going over the steps needed and breaking it down like that was very instrumental in pushing me to get it done.”