So late this past summer, the family and I took an awesome vacation to Costa Rica. It was blissfully relaxing—so much so that, during our two weeks away, I dug into a book I’d long wanted to read: “Loose Balls,” Terry Pluto’s awesome oral history of the ABA.
I couldn’t put this thing down. It was riveting and detailed and packed with one amazing story after another. Really, if you’ve never read “Loose Balls,” do so. It’s outstanding.
Anyhow, somewhere deep into the book, Pluto makes reference to Andy Hershock, an ABA referee who died on the court during a Memphis-New York game. It caught my eye for two reasons: 1. Holy shit! 2. The reference came and went, but was never explained.
“This,” I thought, “is a story.”
I immediately pitched the idea to the Wall Street Journal, which has run, oh, 15-20 of my articles through the years. My editor liked it, and I spent the ensuing weeks learning about Hershock the Philly kid; Hershock the basketball die-hard; Hershock the passionate official; Hershock the father of 11 children.
As these things occasionally happen, I wound up in a bit of a spat with a fill-in editor at the Journal. He wanted some changes that I felt killed the piece. I refused to make them. Ultimately, the Journal decided not to run Hershock’s saga. I was crushed. Not for myself, but for the family. For his 11 kids. They were so excited about having their dad’s memory and legacy be remembered. Ugh. Awful., awful news—and I was livid with myself for not just making the alterations and moving forward.
I digress. I’ve had a long, positive relationship with ESPN.com and Rob King, the editor in chief. He agreed to run the piece—which makes my day. It came out a few hours ago, just in time for Thanksgiving.
It brings me great satisfaction.
I hope it brings the Herschoks great joy. And pride.