WASHINGTON – Writers generally write about what they know. But sometimes,when they write about what they don't know,they learn a few things.
This was the case for author Ben Green and his latest book,“Spinning the Globe: The Rise,Fall,and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters.”
“By writing this book,I learned things the average fan doesn't know,” Green said. “For one thing,the team is not from New York,and they used to compete in real events.”
The team originated in Chicago,but put Harlem in the name to create more of a national image and to make clear to fans that opponents had lost to an all-black team. The Globetrotters nearly always won,even from the team's start barnstorming the country in the late 1920s,playing local teams in a still-segregated country.
Green is a writer of both fiction and other nonfiction books,including “Before His Time,” “The Soldier of Fortune Murders” and “Finest Kind.”
The idea to write the Globetrotters book came three years ago when Green's agent suggested that he write about something familiar to everyone,yet unknown to a lot of people,the history of the Harlem Globetrotters.
“It surprised me that no one had written a serious book on the Globetrotters,” Green said. “There are three children's books and one picture book on the Globetrotters,but no one had ever written a serious book on the team.”
Green contacted the owner of the Globetrotters,Mannie Jackson,and requested access to the Globetrotter archives.
“I needed him to give me the initial OK,” Green said. “When I pitched him the idea,I gave him a copy of one of my books. Once he read it,he rolled out the red carpet for me. He even wrote a letter to all Globetrotter alumni,telling them to help me out.”
Once Green received the green light from the Globetrotters he dived right into the project.
“Through my research I was able to uncover the Globetrotter gold mine at the University of Texas,” Green said. I'm not sure if they knew what they had,but I found 18 boxes of Globetrotter history. I was shocked to find the amount of stuff that was saved – programs,box scores and documents from [the team's original owner Abe] Saperstein's desk.”
The final piece of the Globetrotter puzzle came courtesy of an avid Oregon fan.
“I was finally able to tie the story together after I contacted Mr. Jay Michael Kenyon,” Green said. “Mr. Kenyon had collected 30 years of newspapers box scores that dated back to the 1920s.”
The project proved to be time consuming but memorable experience for Green. He searched through 18 boxes of Globetrotter memorabilia,read obituaries to track down potential sources and contacted some of the great Globetrotters.
“The Globetrotters are an amazing story about triumph over obstacles and adversity,” Green said.