James S. Hirsch is former reporter for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of four nonfiction books, including the New York Times bestseller. Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter, which was the basis for the film of the same name starring Denzel Washington. Hirsch is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has a master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. He lives in the Boston area with his wife, Sheryl, and their children, Amanda and Garrett. Born and raised in St. Louis, he remains a diehard Cardinal fan.BECOME A FAN
A. In 2000, after I wrote a book on Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, someone suggested I should write a book on Willie Mays. While I never saw him play, his name is magic to any baseball fan, and his career -- from 1951 to 1973 -- exquisitely overlapped the modern civil rights movement. Mays was one of the most prominent blacks in America at that time, so any authoritative biography of him would be about more than baseball. I was able to track down one of Willie's few trusted friends, and he asked Willie if he was interested in cooperating on a biography. Willie said no. I returned to Willie's friend two years later with the same request, and Willie again said no. I tried a third time, and had the same result. I then tried a fourth time -- seven years after I made the initial effort -- and this time Willie agreed to meet me. It was worth the wait.