Ask MIKE SHROPSHIRE anything about Texas sports, and he’ll probably know the answer. After 30-plus years as a sports journalist, Shropshire has enough tales to fill a book — and in fact, he has written five tomes inspired by his days on the sidelines. After scoring big with fiction, nonfiction and even a possible Hollywood production, there’s no doubt that when it comes to taking sports stories from the field to the page, this Preston Hollow man has the write stuff.

 

How’d you start off writing?

It took me awhile to realize I could write. In fact, I didn’t even know I was a good writer until I got to college. I actually set out to become a history teacher.

 

So how’d you end up becoming a journalist then?

After I graduated, I needed a job, so I started working at the Fort Worth Press covering local sports. I was very lucky to get the job because at that point, all I had going for me was high school typing, so the job was really more of an audition for me. If it hadn’t been for the Fort Worth Press giving me a chance, then the subsequent career never would have happened. That paper ended up going under, but they actually produced many good writers known around the state.

 

What were your early years as a sports journalist like?

I covered the Texas Rangers (baseball team) in the early ’70s, and in those days the journalist actually traveled with the team to all games, so I was on the road with them a lot. At that time, they were really one of the worst teams in the history of baseball, but off the field they were really something else. And back then, players didn’t make millions of dollars like they do today. They were just making a living, so they didn’t take the game as seriously — they just played for the love of the game, because they all knew that once their bodies gave out, they’d have to go find real jobs. They just wanted to have a good time while they could, so there was a lot of drinking, a lot of pharmaceutical drugs, and because they were all athletic, good-looking men, the women just loved them. It was hard keeping up with that, and after five years, I was ready to move on. And I think anyone would have had enough by then, unless there’s something wrong with you.

 

Your experience with the Texas Rangers inspired you to write a book?

After I stopped covering the Texas Rangers, I came back to Dallas to work as journalist. It was the mid-’70s, and I saw that several of my colleagues were writing books, and that gave me ambition to write a book. But at the time, writing a book seemed like climbing Mount Everest. There was a lot of trial and error, and it wasn’t until 1994 that I co-authored “The Thorny Rose of Texas,” a biography about Anne Richards. It wasn’t all that successful, but it at least gave me a break into the publishing world, and in 1996, I wrote “Seasons in Hell,” a book about my time covering the Texas Rangers.

 

What came next?

I wrote “The Ice Bowl” about the 1967 championship game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. Then I wrote “The Pro,” which was the first nonfiction book I ever wrote, and it’s about a golfer. Then I wrote “When the Tuna Went Down to Texas” about Bill Parcells when he coached the Dallas Cowboys. And I wrote “Runnin’ with the Big Dogs” about the history of the Texas-Oklahoma college football rivalry. 

 

And now what are you working on?

I recently finished writing a screenplay of “The Pro,” and I sold that to Paramount Pictures. I’d eventually like to write about something besides sports. I’d really like to get off sports as much as possible because in the publishing world, I’m typecast, and I don’t think they’d let me ever get off sports no matter how much I wanted to. I am working on another book right now, but it’s still in the works, so I have to keep that under wraps.

 

What do you like better: Being a journalist or an author?

Being a journalist — the work is a lot easier.


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