Saturday, October 5, 2019

Interview: NJ Resident and YES Network Baseball Analyst Talks his Book with David Cone Called Full Count: The Education of a Pitcher

By Suzanne Ordas Curry

For New York baseball fans, or really any baseball fan, the book to read this season is The New York Times Bestseller entitled Full Count: The Education of a Pitcher. 

Written by  David Cone with YES Network Analyst Jack Curry, this book is filled with anecdotes, inside stories and lessons for any aspiring pitcher. David Cone has lead an extraordinary life in the world of baseball and it is captured vividly by Jack Curry, who has been writing about baseball for the past 25 years.

Full Count  covers Cone's journey from the minors to the majors and beyond. In this memoir Cone talks about the intricacies of pitching - every pitch - and about his perfect game 1999.

I had the opportunity to ask Jack Curry a few questions (full disclosure, he's my brother in-law) to get a read on what writing this book was like. I rather already knew how much work it was just by all the times we heard over the past two years his wife Pamela saying  "He's busy writing in his office" or "He's meeting with David today."

This would be Jack's second book. He had already written another book with Derek Jeter, entitled,  The Life You Imagine. As I have a considerable amount of Yankee fans as friends I often got requests for Jack to sign their books. Jack often wrote in the inscription, "I hope you enjoyed reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it." 

But writing a book is not easy, and Jack Francis Curry is a perfectionist. To get facts correct, to get the story told the way it should be told, requires research, concentration and edits.  And it has to reflect the life of the subject the way the subject wants it written. But, Jack has always been a fan "Of a good game of baseball" so he truly enjoyed writing both books. 

Jack's love of baseball goes way back to his childhood- back to the days when he played catch with his brother Rob on the side streets of Jersey City, and then during his career as a Little Leaguer playing Washington Square Park. Though his mom Beatrice might have thought his son was on his way to the majors, shouting the loudest when he got a hit at a game  and covering the frig with his mentions in the Jersey Journal,  being on the field as a player was not in the cards.

Jack on the day he graduated from Fordham with mother Bea and brother Rob
But he combined his love of the game with his passion for writing by becoming a journalist.  He wrote for the Fordham paper at college (where he met Michael Kay) then went on to write for the Star Ledger (his mom could not have been prouder) and then over two to the New York Times for over two decades (making his mom beam even more) before landing at the YES Network. Jack can tell you some good stories about important phone calls he would get at his home in Jersey City when he was a young beat writer trying to make a name for himself in the Big Apple. I recall a legendary story in our family about the time George Steinbrenner called him during the dinner hour while he was living at home. 

Jack tells it like this: "George and I did end up talking for about 20 minutes and conducting an interview, but my Mom got antsy and that’s when she picked up the extension and said, 'Doesn’t anyone know there’s a dinner hour around here?' Since Steinbrenner had insisted that I be honest with him at the outset of the call, I had to tell him that it was my Mom calling me for dinner. Lol. I was angry at the time, but I actually think that incident helped me with Steinbrenner. He always remembered me as the guy who had to hurry and go eat dinner with his Mom and Dad."

Jack at home in Jersey City with his mother Bea and wife Pamela
To be a writer, especially of a sports team, means there's no nine to five and things need to get done when the game is over, whether it's 4 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning. That requires flexibility and in Jack's case, lots of tea. 

Jack and David had a special night at Yankee Stadium to introduce the book, and well, since I am married to his brother I got to go. They had a book signing at the stadium, they both threw out the first pitch (Jack bought a pitchback to practice for that), they did the booth during the third inning and the publisher hosted a suite for the two of them and friends and family. I got to go. That was pretty cool. The food was great and just kept on coming. If you've never been to the suite level at Yankee stadium, it's so impressive, it's modern yet filled with memories. 

In the suite, I caught David between being asked to take pictures with those there, to ask him a few questions. I asked him what it was like having a book out about him. Interestingly, he said, "It's nerve -wracking! Its all out there now, everything I've done, in print. But, now I have something forever, something for my grandchildren some day." 

I asked him what it was like to be an author, to which he replied, "I didn't write the book, Jack did!" What an honest guy.

The Currys and David Cone

I also asked Jack some questions. I asked Jack what he liked most about writing the book was. He said, "The best part about writing that book was getting the opportunity to dive inside the mind of such an intelligent pitcher. I have always respected David’s knowledge, creativity and competitiveness and I longed to write a book that would tell the reader what it’s like to be on the mound during great times and dreary moments. David was so honest and so descriptive that readers will feel as if they are on the mound, too."

He also said that one of his favorite parts about the book was David detailing the importance of the relationship between the pitcher and the catcher. Jack stated, "Every baseball fan knows this is important, but David offered specific stories and anecdotes about the catchers who caught him during his career. David admitted that he could be a very difficult pitcher to catcher because he could he so manic and so headstrong, but he emphasized that he needed a catcher to be a co-pilot. Sometimes, a catcher can do something as subtle as pumping his fist and it can help calm down a pitcher."

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Jack talked about what the steps after they agreed to collaborate on the book. He said, "David and I had a meeting and we developed an outline for the book. There were about 10 chapters that I immediately knew I wanted to write and then we added others as the process continued. Based on my interviews with David, we made adjustments to that outline. I always knew I wanted this book to give a ton of pitching lessons and philosophies, but I also wanted to tell the best stories from his career. So we did that, too."

I asked Jack if there was another book in his future, to which he replied, "This is my second book and I went 20 years in between writing the second book. If there’s a third book, I don’t think I will wait 20 years to write it. But, after working so tirelessly on this book, I’m content with promoting this book for the next few months. After that, I will sit down and decide if I want to dig in and work on another book. 

David Cone and Jack Curry on the mound with CC Sabathia. I heard CC trash-talked Jack.
So all you Yankee fans, and baseball fans, after the season is over, keep it alive, turn up the heat in the house and cozy up with a great book, FULL COUNT: The Education of a Pitcher by David Cone with Jack Curry.  Available on Amazon and all major booksellers.

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