After reading Paul Keck’s book The Greatest Comeback Ever: A Fan’s Daily Diary of the 1978 New York Yankees Championship Season, I had an opportunity to ask him some questions. Here are my questions and his unedited responses.
Trevor: What was the motivation behind writing this journal back in 1978?
Paul: The motivation to write my Yankees diary in 1978 as a teenager was a spontaneous decision. I enjoyed writing and baseball very much and thought it would be fun to pen a daily diary about my favorite team-the New York Yankees. It was a once in a lifetime decision and remarkable that I should have such good fortune to capture the greatest comeback in baseball history-against the Red Sox, nonetheless.
Trevor: Why take the journal and make it into a book?
Paul: I decided to have the diary published to share the joy of a “season that I will never forget!” as I wrote towards the end of the journal after the Yankees had won the World Series against the Dodgers. There were so many special moments in that season, like the Bucky Dent playoff game against Boston with the Yanks winning 5-4 to take the AL East title, that I am sure Yankees fans and general baseball fans will enjoy the book. Also, the book is unique, being the only one ever written by a fan, live time, on a great sports season. For that reason alone the book fills a special place among all baseball and sports books.
Trevor: Did the 1978 team make you more of a Yankee fan then you had been prior to the season? The reason I ask is because the journal recounts all sports you seemed interested in at the time – boxing and Muhammad Ali, NFL Football, NHL and NBA playoffs etc – but after the May 26th announcement of the Canadians winning the Stanly Cup, there are very few other sports mentioned.
Paul: I’ve been a fan of the Yankees since 1973 and was a die-hard fan by the 1976 season, so the 1978 season was not the main thing that drove me to become a stronger Yankees fan. That was already in place. The fact that the book focused more and more on the Yanks as their season progressed is because the season became increasingly exciting as New York started to make their comeback against the Red Sox at mid-season. From 14 out in mid-July behind Boston, the Yanks started to steadily come back once Bob Lemon replaced Billy Martin as the manager after Martin’s resignation. Then the team caught fire and they were amazing to watch as they went on to win everything.
Trevor: After the 1978 season, the Yankees did not win another World Series title for 18 years – what did that season mean to you as a Yankee fan?
Paul: 1978 is still my favorite Yankees year, and it was tough to wait 18 years for them to take home another Series title. Still, they fielded some great teams and great players during that time and were a lot of fun to watch. Their 1996 World Championship year revived the excitement of being a Yanks fan for me, and I was very glad to see Joe Torre come aboard and win several more titles after that. Interestingly, for both 1978 and 1996 I see the managers of those teams playing a vital role in winning the Series: Bob Lemon and Joe Torre, both of who displayed a calm and excellent decision making throughout their seasons with the Yankees.
I want to thank Paul for taking the time to answer my questions. Please read the previous post for a review of The Greatest Comeback Ever.