William Swank

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William Swank
Baseball historian and author William G. Swank. Photo by Tim Wayne. CC-by-SA Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. hisnameistimmy.com
Born (1940-06-17) June 17, 1940 (age 74)
Chicago, Illinois, US
Occupation Author
Baseball Santa

William "Bill" George Swank is the author or co-author of seven books and numerous articles primarily about baseball. The San Diego Historical Society identified him as "San Diego's preeminent baseball historian."[1]


Bill Swank was born in Chicago on June 17, 1940, to parents William George Swank and Estelle Jensen Swank. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from San Diego State College in 1962. He was a Supervising Probation Officer for the County of San Diego from 1963–1994. He has three children and two grandsons. He currently lives in San Diego, California, with his wife Jeri Lynne (Bessie) Swank, whom he married in 1986.

Swank has campaigned since 1988 to get San Diego's first major league baseball player and early home run king Gavy Cravath elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame. His scale model of Lane Field (built in 1997) is on permanent display at the San Diego Hall of Champions. Following the release of his award-winning book, Echoes from Lane Field (1999), Swank has extensively explored the history of baseball in San Diego and helped honor many local players including Pete Coscarart, Johnny Ritchey, Floyd Robinson, Manuel Hernandez and Ted Williams.

Swank has been Santa Claus for Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego, since 2002. He also volunteers as Santa for several other charitable organizations in San Diego. As "Baseball Santa," he played second base for the House of David from 2003 through 2008. In 2009, Baseball Santa began giving baseball equipment to Little Leagues in Mexico.


The Lane Field Padres[edit]

Two volumes, San Diego Padres and San Diego Baseball Historical Society, 1997; co-author Ray Brandes

Echoes from Lane Field[edit]

Turner Publishing Company, 1999. Winner, San Diego Press Club and San Diego Book Awards, 1999

Echoes of Lane Field is a compilation of interviews conducted by Swank of San Diego Padres team members when the Padres were a minor league team.

Gold Leather Helmets, Black Hightop Shoes[edit]

Big League Press, 2003. Co-Author Bill Rice.

An Athletic History of Mission Bay High School During the 1950s. From a review by Don King, Historian of the San Diego Hall of Champions: "Bill Swank is San Diego's eminent baseball historian, but he's a couple tacos short of a combination plate. Mission Bay is a powerhouse today, but that wasn't the case when the school opened fifty years ago…and then it got worse. Why would somebody write about this? With painstaking research and a sense of humor, Swank and Bill Rice have created a time capsule of the 1950s. How did they ever find so much information about women's athletics from that era? You don’t have to be a Buc to enjoy this book."

Baseball in San Diego[edit]

Baseball in San Diego; From the Padres to Petco, Arcadia Publishing, 2004 Baseball in San Diego; From the Plaza to the Padres, Arcadia Publishing, 2005

From the book jacket: Baseball in San Diego: From the Plaza to the Padres, takes the reader on a seven-decade journey from Horton Plaza, the site of San Diego's first base ball game in 1871, to lower Broadway and the future home of Lane Field. Before the Pacific Coast League, San Diego had three Class D teams. One was the Bears, whose frustrated owner Dick Cooley complained, “I don't believe they'll make baseball pay here in a thousand years.” With America's finest year-round climate, barnstorming and black baseball were popular attractions. Rube Foster's Chicago American Giants practically lived in San Diego in the winter of 1913. All the while, there were constant struggles between the forces of amateur and professional baseball for players, diamonds, and sports coverage.

Bob Chandler's Tales from the San Diego Padres[edit]

Sports Publishing, 2006. Co-author Bob Chandler

From the book jacket: Longtime Padres announcer Bob Chandler shares his memories of the team with San Diego baseball historian Bill Swank in an easy-to-read recap of the team's colorful past. Chandler and Swank utilize their numerous contacts to bring readers many inside stories and humorous anecdotes dating back to the team's actual birth on May 27, 1968. Eight-time batting champion Tony Gwynn and Cy Young Award-winner Randy Jones are among the former players providing insight and inside stories. Chandler's longtime broadcast partner Jerry Coleman, elected to the broadcasters wing of the baseball Hall of Fame in 2005, has written the foreword.

The Life of Dion Rich: Live Like a Millionaire With No Money Down[edit]

Silver Threads, 2011. Co-author Charlie Jones.

From the book jacket: Welcome to the story of Dion Rich, the World's Greatest Gate-Crasher. Secrurity at the Super Bowl, Academy Awards, and the Kentuckt Derby Winners Circle were no match for Dion. And, yes, that's dion carrying Tom Landry off the field after his Super Bowl win. Enjoy the great stories, pictures and secrets of the World's Greatest Gate-Crasher. "The Gate-Crasher knew what lay before him: He must descend into hell and pull the devil's teeth. It was Clyde Barrow versus Fort Knox. Roseanne versus Denny's page three. Wearing a blue blazer and a tie, Albert Einstein's haircut and glasses on the end of his pointy nose, Rich set off the penetrate the most impenetrable fortress in U.S. history. "The fortress lost. Dion was inside in six minutes. I followed him the same way. It was pure art. "memo to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue: $7 million in security wasn't enough. Memo to Salt Lake City Olympic Committee: He'll be there this week." Rick Reilly, Sports Illustrated, Talking about Dion at Super Bowl XXXVI

Off Guard[edit]

Silver Threads, 2012. Co-author Walt Sweeney

From the book jacket: Walt Sweeney was one of the greatest linemen ever to play in the National Football League. During his 13-year career with the San Diego Chargers and the Washington Redskins, he was a nine time All-Star. He was also a victim of performance-enhancing drugs before anyone knew what they were...performance-enhancing drugs that his employer required him to take. Off Guard is Sweeney’s story, told with frankness and humor, about his tumultuous career and equally tumultuous life after football. It details his confrontations and disillusion with the NFL and its Players Association.


The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Emmy Award), Pacific Southwest Chapter. Best Sports Documentary 2012: The First Padres. General Malaise Productions; William Swank, Associate Producer.[2]

Inspiration Award, Friends of Balboa Park, 2012.[3]

Winner, San Diego Press Club, 1999.[4]

Winner, San Diego Book Awards, 1999[5]

External links[edit]