In the following post, author Andrew M. Homan tells how his love of sports history led him to write Iron Mac: The Legend of Roughouse Cyclist Reggie McNamara (Nebraska, 2016).
Not long after opening my first pack of baseball cards at the tender age of seven did I begin my passion for sports history. Along with the scent of the pink bubble gum that was contained in each pack, the cards are now all gone. But memories of the childhood hobby remain.
The 1973 Topps edition printed all-time great cards, and I loved the black and white images of players like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ty Cobb. The regular cards contained player statistics and anecdotes, and I referred to them often; especially of those like Willie Mays or Hank Aaron, who had been around since the early 1950s and were still playing baseball as living legends.
Not blessed with baseball talent, I ended up running track and cross country in high school and competed collegiately at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Shortly after graduation, friends convinced me to switch from running to cycling.
Bike racing came naturally, but due to time constraints I did not develop as successfully in cycling as I had in running. I did, however, became fascinated with the Tour de France and all other big European road races. It was a whole new exciting sport I knew nothing about.
Years later, quite by accident, I discovered that professional cycling in the United States once competed with baseball in popularity. With the hundreds and possibly thousands of books dedicated to baseball history, I found that only a mere handful existed for American cycling history. Prompted by this great disparity, I began my own research and dug up newspaper articles concealed in microfilm containing countless stories nobody had heard for generations.
Thoughts of the old baseball cards came flooding back and I began to write. Ten years later, in addition to a dozen or so articles in various cycling magazines, two books have been published. I am hopeful that those who devoted their lives to the beautiful sport of cycling will not be forgotten.