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Peter Golenbock (born July 19, 1946) is a sports journalist and author. He has written nine New York Times best sellers including Dynasty: The New York Yankees 1949-1964, The Bronx Zoo (with Sparky Lyle), Number 1 (with Billy Martin), Balls (with Graig Nettles), Personal Fouls, Idiot (with Johnny Damon), Presumed Guilty (with Jose Baez), American Prince (with Tony Curtis), and Driven (with Donald Driver).
Golenbock was working as a lawyer for Prentice-Hall in the summer of 1972 when he knocked on the door of Nick D'Incecco, the head of P-H's trade book division, and told D'Incecco he wanted to write a history of the Casey Stengel New York Yankees. D'Incecco, being a Yankee fan, liked the idea and gave him a contract almost on the spot. Golenbock interviewed almost all of the Yankees of that era (including Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel, Whitey Ford, Roger Maris, Ralph Houk, and Yogi Berra). Billy Martin so loved what Golenbock wrote in Dynasty that he asked him to write his autobiography, Number 1.
As a result, Golenbock continued to write books on the Yankees - The Bronx Zoo (a 1979 release written with pitcher Sparky Lyle), Balls (with third baseman Graig Nettles), and Number 1 (with manager Billy Martin), to name a few. He covered the old Brooklyn Dodgers teams in Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers (which won the 1984 CASEY Award for the best baseball book of the year). He also has written books on NASCAR, the New York Mets, and the Boston Red Sox (his 1992 Fenway: An Unexpurgated History of the Boston Red Sox was updated and re-released in 2005 as Red Sox Nation).
Golenbock also has written on collegiate athletics. Personal Fouls - The Broken Promises and Shattered Dreams of Big Money Basketball at Jim Valvano's North Carolina State revisited 1980s college basketball and focused on Jim Valvano and the NC State University basketball team. Valvano did all he could to stop publication of the book, threatening to sue Simon and Schuster and Golenbock for $250 million. S&S dropped it, and it was picked up by small publisher Carroll and Graf. Within a week of publication, the school chancellor Bruce Poulton retired, and Valvano later was fired first as athletic director and as basketball coach. The book prompted an NCAA investigation which cleared Valvano of any wrongdoing, but found that free tickets and shoes properly issued to players were then sold for monetary gain by those players.
Golenbock next wrote an award-winning children's book entitled Teammates, which described an incident during Jackie Robinson's first season as a Brooklyn Dodger when he was publicly befriended by teammate Pee Wee Reese, a Southerner who believed Robinson had just as much right to be playing as anyone. Teammates was selected by Redbook Magazine as one of the ten-best children's books of 1990. It is still being used in schools across America today[when?] to foster racial relations.
Golenbock then published The Forever Boys, an intimate look at the lives of former major league ballplayers as they attempted to recapture former glory in the Senior Professional Baseball League. Golenbock spent the 1989–90 season with the St. Petersburg Pelicans of the senior league as he wrote about the joys and hardships of playing baseball on the professional level.
After writing Fenway, a sprawling, in-depth colorful history of the Boston Red Sox in 1991, he wrote American Zoom, an inside look at the multimillion-dollar NASCAR stock car racing industry. It is to this date[when?] the best-selling book ever written about the sport.
In May 1994 St. Martin's Press published Wild, High, and Tight: The Life and Death of Billy Martin. Said Larry King in his column in USA Today, "It is one of the best biographies I have ever read." Robert Lipsyte in the New York Times said "It is the first nonfiction baseball book that reads like a Russian novel."
Golenbock's next books were Wrigleyville, an oral history of the Chicago Cubs; Cowboys Have Always Been My Heroes, an oral history of the Dallas Cowboys; and The Last Lap, a look at the men who lost their lives on the NASCAR racing circuit.
In the spring of 2000 Golenbock published The Spirit of St. Louis, an oral history of the St. Louis Cardinals and Browns. Golenbock also wrote a children's book about Hank Aaron's ordeal in breaking Babe Ruth's career home run record entitled Brave in Every Way. He followed that with Go Gators! an oral history of the University of Florida football team, and NASCAR Confidential with interviews with many of NASCAR's former heroes. In 2005 he published Idiot with Johnny Damon, an inside story of how the Red Sox won the World Championship in 2004.
Next came Miracle, the true-life saga of racer Bobby Allison. Golenbock then wrote 7: The Mickey Mantle Novel, a controversial look at the life of the great Yankee slugger. In 2008 Golenbock wrote In the Country of Brooklyn, a political and social history of the borough for HarperCollins. In late 2008 Golenbock released a biography on Hollywood screen actor Tony Curtis (co-written with Curtis), entitled American Prince: A Memoir.
In the spring of 2009 Golenbock wrote George: The Poor Little Rich Boy who Built the Yankee Empire, a book he began in 1980, and in 2010 he worked with Humpy Wheeler, for many years the president of the Charlotte Motor Speedway, on his autobiography, Growing Up NASCAR.
IN 2011 he wrote the controversial Presumed Guilty with Jose Baez, the attorney for Casey Anthony, who had been accused of killing her daughter. The book is the inside story of one of the first big cases tried entirely in the media. It describes how the case became a reality show in which truth and justice took a back seat to a prosecutor's need for publicity and fame.
In 2013 he published Driven, with Green Bay Packer star received Donald Driver, an athlete who grew up in poverty in Houston, had to live in a UHaul trailer for several months, sold drugs to sustain himself, and who went on to Alcorn A&M and the Packers to fame and fortune. Driven was Golenbock's ninth New York Times best seller.
Golenbock was a radio sports talk show host in 1980 on station WOR in New York City. He was a color broadcaster for the St. Petersburg Pelicans of the Senior Professional Baseball League in 1989-90 and has been a frequent guest on many television and radio talk shows including Biography on A&E, the Fiftiest Greatest Athletes on ESPN, and Yankeeography on the YES network.
Golenbock lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, with Wendy Sears Grassi, their cat Chauncey, and their Basset Hound Fred. He is a professor at the University of South Florida where he teaches courses about the influence of sports on American history.