2012 Bison Books paperback edition

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chatting with Jeremy Schaap

Just before Super Bowl Sunday, ESPN contacted Knopf to set up an interview of me by Jeremy Schaap. He wanted to talk about NATIVE AMERICAN SON for his radio show, This Sporting Life. We met at the Knopf offices on Broadway, between W. 55th and W. 56th streets. They are in the Random House building, the one with the lobby lined floor to very high ceiling with just about every great American book you've ever heard of. Sacred ground.
Jesse is a self-described track and field guy. His fine book Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics is dutifully listed in the bibliography of my biography of Jim Thorpe. His father, Dick Schaap, endeared himself to me not least because he wondered in 2000 just what Babe Ruth had done in the previous 50 years to put him ahead of Thorpe in some of those end-of-century Greatest Ever polls.

Knopf set us up in a conference room, with the ESPN producer, Jesse Baker, holding the mic between us. Jeremy was direct, thorough, persistent, and thoughtful. A great interviewer who knew his Thorpe. We talked about Carlisle, about the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, the West Point-Carlisle football game several months later. About track and field today.
It struck me that he is just about the best example of Thorpe's legacy. Like so many other American kids in the 20th century, he learned about Thorpe from his father. Of course, not every kid can claim the likes of Dick Schaap, someone who wrote so well about the Olympics and so much else.

But the essential transmission is there. The father, who probably heard the story from his father, recounts the story of the great American Indian athlete to his son. The circle continues unbroken.

Listen to the interview: here, on the right column of my blog page >>>>

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