Interview with David Fanucchi, author of ‘Miracle on Grass’
ABOUT MIRACLE ON GRASS
Miracle on Grass is the true story of how the 2000 USA Baseball Olympic Team – an unknown group of American minor leaguers – stunned the international baseball powerhouse from Cuba. They were led by Hall-of-Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, who came out of retirement to lead the charge for his country, and they pulled off the greatest upset in Olympic baseball history. Their triumph was remarkable, but the story of their coming together is even harder to imagine. Miracle on Grass is Fanucchi’s first-hand account of the events that took place over a two-year period, and an intimate, perceptive portrayal of the three incredible weeks Team USA spent in Australia, climaxing with their gold medal triumph over Cuba. Fanucchi gives readers a behind the scenes look at how the MLB executives in charge of this operation went about selecting the players, how Lasorda persuaded management into giving him the opportunity to coach the team, how the Americans narrowly qualified for the Olympics during a gut-wrenching game, and how capturing the gold medal in Sydney changed the lives of every player, coach and administrator involved.
Why was writing Miracle on Grass so important to you?
It was a lifelong goal of mine to write a book someday. When I had the chance to work with the 2000 USA Baseball Olympic Team, and they ended up winning the Gold Medal, I finally had the material I needed to do it. I knew that would be the biggest event that I would ever be involved with in sports, so it was just a matter of re-telling the behind-the-scenes story of how it all came together.
What was the writing/creative process like?
Long and tedious, as you would expect. I definitely ran into some writer’s block, and had to set the work aside for a while, then come back to it after refreshing the batteries. But, when the 2012 Olympic Games from London happened, and I began watching on TV, that inspired me to push through and finish the project.
How did you come up with the title?
It’s a play off of the great story of the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team, and their “Miracle on Ice”. Also, when you read the book, you’ll understand why it’s titled “Miracle on Grass”, due to what a newspaper called one of the biggest upsets of the Olympic Qualifying tournament. The title has a specific meaning.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably in college. I’m not sure I knew what I wanted to do, while I was in high school. But, when I got to California State University, Chico in 1990 and started covering sports for The Orion – the University Newspaper – I felt like I was on to something.
What books do you believe influenced you in your life?
Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird were the ones I remember reading while growing up. But as an adult, I’ve come to like non-fiction and biographies, more than fiction. I love the work of sports writer John Feinstein and the way he tells stories, such as A Season on the Brink and A Good Walk Spoiled. That’s the style I tried to use in my book.
How much influence did you have in the cover of your book? Did you initially have a different idea of how it would look?
I took the photo used on the cover of my book, while in Sydney at the 2000 Olympics, and I also designed the cover myself. I tried to keep it simple.
Can you describe a typical day for you?
As a sportswriter, you’re just staying on top of the news of the day, and following the progress of the teams and athletes that you cover on a daily basis. It’s about constantly updating your audience, and re-creating ways to tell them about what is happening in sports in their community. You have to dig deep to find the unique aspects of what is going on. In today’s 24-7 news cycle, yesterday’s news is old, so it’s a completely different job than it was even 10 years ago, since the advent of social media. People want their news now on Twitter, not in a printed newspaper.
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
Play golf and spend time with my wife and kids. I also help coach my nephew’s little league baseball team.
What do your family and friends think of your writing?
My wife was the one that finally pushed me to tackle the daunting task of writing the book, and encouraged me to do it. It was something that, if I started down that road, I knew I would eventually have to follow through with and finish it. But now that it’s done, everyone in my family is extremely proud, and has been very supportive. They are my biggest promoters.
What do you think is more important – a good plot, or good characters? Why did you choose the one you did?
With my book being a non-fiction, true story that I was simply re-telling with many unknown details that I uncovered and revealed, I didn’t neccesarily choose the plot. The story was already laid out for me. But I knew this plot was filled with such drama that the general public didn’t know about, that I knew if I told all of that, people would love it. Even though they already knew the outcome – that Team USA wins the gold medal – the book tells the story of how we won the gold medal.
ABOUT DAVID FANUCCHI
David Fanucchi was born in Burlingame, California, and was raised in the small Silicon Valley suburb of Cupertino. A 1988 graduate of Monta Vista High School, Fanucchi attended California State University, Chico, and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism in 1993. Fanucchi has spent the past 20 years working in various public relations and communications capacities for both amateur and professional sports teams and organizations.
Most notably, Fanucchi was Director of Communications for USA Baseball from 1999 to 2006, during which time he served as the official Press Officer for the 2000 USA Olympic Baseball Team that captured the gold medal under Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda. He also served as the press officer for the 2006 United States team in the inuagural World Baseball Classic – a roster that included Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark Teixeira and Roger Clemens.
Fanucchi held a leadership role for the United States Golf Association’s (USGA) public relations efforts during the 2009 U.S. Open, and most recently has directed press coverage of the Champions Series Tennis Tour, starring John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, and Michael Chang among other legendary players. Fanucchi was inducted into the Chico State Public Relations Department Hall of Fame in 2009.
He serves as President of his own sports-business public relations consulting firm – Gold Medal PR – and currently resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife, Jessica, daughters Emma and Grace, and their dog, a beagle named Bogey.
Miracle on Grass is his first published book. You can visit David Fanucchi’s website atwww.davidfanucchi.com.
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