George Vecsey has written six national best-selling books, including “Stan Musial: An American Life,” published by Ballantine/ESPN Books in May of 2011.
His other books include: "Coal Miner's Daughter," with Loretta Lynn, a New York Times best-seller for eight weeks and was later made into an Academy-Award winning movie.
Vecsey wrote the Sports of the Times column for The New York Times from 1982 through the end of 2011. After choosing to take a buyout, he signed on to write two sports columns a month for Times, as a "contributor."
Before that, he was an Appalachian correspondent for the Times and covered religion. He has interviewed people as diverse as the Dalai Lama, Tony Blair, Muhammad Ali, Martina Navratilova, Archbishop Oscar A. Romero of El Salvador, Joyce Carol Oates and Casey Stengel, in addition to Loretta Lynn.
The Musial book follows Vecsey’s previous book, "Baseball: A History of America's Favorite Game," published by Modern Library in 2006, which contained his short riff on Musial as the embodiment of the American game. The baseball history was the first sports book in a series whose authors include Karen Armstrong, Hans Kung, Ian Buruma and Alan Brinkley.
Vecsey is also proud of "One Sunset a Week ," the story of a radical coal-mining family during the Vietnam/Nixon years, and "Five O'Clock Comes Early," written with Bob Welch, a star pitcher and recovering alcoholic. As part of his research, Vecsey visited the same treatment center Welch had attended, and that strong experience has formed his ongoing interest in addiction and rehabilitation.
And, yes, Vecsey was one of the twenty-five authors of the best-selling spoof, “Naked Came the Stranger,” issued by former Newsday colleagues in 1969 under the name of Penelope Ashe. His chapter is easily detectable, he claims, because it is the best-written and least vulgar. Some of his fellow authors disagree.
George Spencer Vecsey was born on July 4, 1939, to two journalists. While attending Hofstra College, he began working at Newsday, covering several Yankee games at the age of twenty.
In 1968, Vecsey was hired by the Times, first covering sports, but in 1970 he was recruited to become a national correspondent in Appalachia for the Times, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Upon returning to New York, he was a Metro reporter from 1973-76. For the next four years, he covered religion, including Pope John Paul II's first trips to Mexico and the United States, and the Dalai Lama’s first trip to the United States.
In 1980, Vecsey returned to sports as a feature writer, and was named to write the sports column upon the death of Red Smith in 1982. He was encouraged by his early editors to write with a personal voice, and he has tried to address the ethical issues of sports as well as the results of games.
He has specialized in international sport, covering eight consecutive World Cups from 1982 in Spain to 2010 in South Africa, as well as all the Summer Olympic Games beginning with Los Angeles in 1984. He has also followed Lance Armstrong on the Tour de France and covered over a dozen Wimbledons.
Vecsey lives in Port Washington, Long Island, and is married to his co-editor of the Hofstra yearbook, Marianne Graham, an artist and teacher.
They have three children and five grandchildren. Laura Vecsey has been a sports and political columnist in Albany, N.Y., Seattle, Baltimore and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Corinna V. Wilson, an attorney, is vice president for programming at the Pennsylvania Cable Network. David Vecsey is a copy editor at the New York Times.
The Stan Musial biography is a labor of love for Vecsey, who has admired Musial since the late 1940’s, when Musial used to bombard the Brooklyn Dodgers, earning his nickname, “Stan the Man”. In February of 2011, Musial was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama, and Vecsey was present at the ceremony in the White House.
Although Musial was not available for this unauthorized biography, Vecsey spoke with dozens of friends, admirers and family members plus former teammates and opponents, who told stories of Musial’s grace and generosity off the field. Vecsey says it is rare for a biographer to like his subject as much after working on a book for several years, but his admiration for Musial remained high after the book was completed. Additional reviews on "Stan Musial: An American Life" can be found here.
Vecsey plans to write essays published on this website while working on future books. George Vecsey can be reached through Esther Newberg at International Creative Management or by leaving a message below.