“Back in May of 2006 during my first year of doing this Footprints program, I did a program on an idea for a unique book that was going to be titled Hawkeye Heroes, By The Numbers. The man with the idea was 1996 University of Iowa grad Lyle Hammes. He interviewed me for an hour about some of the Hawkeye football and basketball players that I considered to be the greatest that I’d covered in my years of doing Iowa play by play and told me he thought the book would be out around Christmas of that year 2006. The book never appeared, though, and over time I figured that Lyle had dropped the idea.
Then last month, some four and a half years from the time of our interview, I got an email from him telling me that the book was out and that a copy was on the way. In the book’s introduction, he tells the story of why it took all those years to get it to publication. It was, as I had guessed, a much bigger job than Lyle had thought. To help with the task he enlisted his brother, Kevin Hammes, and 2002 Iowa grad Neal Rozendaal…
The three of them went to work on interviews and research and have co-authored the book titled, not Hawkeye Heroes as was originally planned, but Hawkeye Greats, By The Numbers. The book confines itself to the Hawkeye men’s sports of football and basketball but only for jersey numbers one through 50, which is another part of the book’s story. As their research and manuscript grew, it became apparent that the entire list of jersey numbers one through 99 in Hawkeye football and men’s basketball were going to be too much for one book. Therefore, they decided to split the manuscript into two volumes. Volume one, which is now out, has jersey numbers one through 50 and volume two, which will follow at a later date, will have jersey numbers 51 through 99.
Now, what these young authors have done is create a debate for the reader because they’ve made a judgment on whom they think is the greatest Hawkeye athlete at each of those uniform numbers with others that they considered at those numbers listed as honorable mentions. This means in many cases some football players are picked as the greatest over basketball players wearing those same uniform numbers and vice versa, all of which allows the reader to get in on the debate.
For example, take the uniform number 15 worn by the legendary football player Duke Slater and basketball’s equally renowned Don Nelson. Or the uniform number 23 worn by basketball’s career scoring leader Roy Marble and football’s one season rushing record holder Shonn Greene. Each of the author’s selections as the greatest Hawkeye at that uniform number is backed up by a detailed story of that player’s career with quotes on him from others like me. All of which makes for fun reading in a concept I’d never heard of before in a sports book. It’s called Hawkeye Greats, By The Numbers…
They picked football’s Aubrey Devine from the great 1921 team as the best to wear uniform number one and John Johnson from the great 1970 basketball team as the best to wear uniform number 50. If you want to know about the other 48, you’ll have to read the book.”
An excerpt of this review will soon be found on the Reviews page.
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