RESPECT DUE – Xander Hollander, author of The Sports Yearbooks. “For Sports Fans, Before the Internet, There Were the Complete Handbooks”

For those of us who were on this planet before the Internet made instantaneous searching and the finding of all things important, trivial and everything in between a function of your fingertips, this NY Times article is a sweet, sentimental read.

Photo credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times

It’s about Xander Hollander, 90, who compiled the sports yearbooks, The Complete Handbooks for 26 years, from 1971-97. Hollander preceded stats outfits like the Elias Sports Bureau, pretty much birthing numerous sports writers and stat geeks that currently populate what’s left of traditional sports publishing, the Net and cable, not to mention the fantasy industry and stats data companies.

His DNA is all up in the  Godzilla of All Things Sports.

“As the president and founder of Associated Features, Hollander operated like a Hollywood producer: curating writers and photographers, coming up with an idea and selling it to a publisher or a corporate client. All told, he edited or wrote some 300 books over 45 years.

The Complete Handbooks were not the only influential title Hollander, whom Sports Illustrated once called “the unofficial king of sports paperbacks,” had a hand in. Mark Simon, who helps oversee ESPN’s Stats & Info blog, gravitated toward Hollander’s The Book of Sports Lists and The Home Run Book.”

Jeff Pearham

Jeff Pearham

 

As a kid I remember these books, vividly. Though I wasn’t a big fan or collector that a lot of kids and eventual sports writers and execs were – there’s a litany of them in this piece – I do remember seeing them, even picking a few of them up. I was a Street & Smith’s fan (I spent many afternoons poring over the NBA & NCAA pages of the annual editions at newsstands  – “Pop, what’s a ‘newsstand?’ – in NYC, Cambridge & DC), the very kind of magazine that encroached on Hollander’s book publishing business model before giving way to the new tech pitiful publishing platform we are currently suffering through.

Photo credit: Jeff Pearham

Photo credit: Jeff Pearham

Hollander’s 90, suffering from the after effects of a stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. But he did the brick & mortar, typewriter thing (he never used a computer. Ever.) before tech reconstructed the world and made any ninny with a computer, a modem and an opinion a a writer.

Supposedly.  

The writers quoted in in this piece, a lot of them Hollander’s disciples, all revere him, and rightfully so: if a guy came along and gave you the ability to see the game you loved as a child from behind the scenes, pulled the curtain and revealed the sports world from an insider’s perspective and eventually you make a living at it, why wouldn’t you love him?

I can’t think of a reason not to.

Written by Pete Croatto (link)

RESPECT DUE – GEORGE DUKE, dead at 67.

George Duke, musician, keyboardist, composer, mentor, innovator, professor and trailblazer has passed away. He was 67.

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Besides being a collaborator with some of the biggest and most important names in the history of music he also released more than 30 solo albums.

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He was well known as a Jazz & fusion musician and R&B artist when he recorded his biggest hits “Reach For It” & “Dukey Stick” in 1977.

“Dukey Stick” – George Duke

“Reach For It” – George Duke

He also scored a hit collaborating with Stanley Clarke.

“Sweet Baby” – The Clarke/Duke Project

I didn’t know George Duke but I have a gang of friends and associates who did. I never heard a single person say a negative word about him. I met him a few times during my BET tenure and every single time I saw him I swear he was smiling.

A big Teddy Bear of a man, he was a mentor to a few generations of musicians and played just about anything he wanted from Jazz to Funk to R&B to Fusion.

He collaborated with too many artists to list but here’s a smattering: Frank Zappa, Jean-Luc Ponty, Miles Davis, Stanley Clarke, Michael Jackson, Dizzy Gillespie, Al Jarreau, Deniece Williams, Sheila E, Patrice Rushen, Billy Cobham, Edwin Hawkins, Regina Belle, Angela Bofil, Anita Baker, Joe Sample, Phil Collins, George Clinton, Cannonball Adderley, Mike Mainieri, Flora Purim, Milton Nascimento, Rachelle Ferrell, Marcus Miller, Teena Marie, Ndugu Chancler, Jill Scott and his cousin Dianne Reeves.

He was also liberally sampled by producers and rappers such as Kanye West, Daft Punk, A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, MF Doom, Mylo, Ice Cube and many, many others.

George and Billy Cobham “Live At Montreux” – Full concert                       

He had recently released his last project, Dreamweaver, dedicated to his wife Carine who passed away last year after a battle with cancer.

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Here’s a short on the process behind the recording of the project.

George Duke – Dreamweaver                      

I remember a time in my life that 67 seemed old, now it seems that your 60’s might be when things become clearer and easier, if you’re lucky to have lived that long and have the good health to enjoy that period of calm & clarity

He passed from heart complications as a result from being treated for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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RIP, George Duke. You will be missed.