Football fever is at its peak in Ohio this time of year, and a new book has hit the market tapping into that interest.
Larry Phillips, a Mansfield resident and longtime regional sports editor, has written a book titled “Ohio’s Autumn Legends, Greats from the State’s Football Fields, Volume I.” Keith Publications is so confident in this work it has printed hardback ($30.51), paperback ($21.99) and Kindle versions ($9.99) available at Amazon.com. Also, it has already agreed to publish Volume II next fall.
Modeled after John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Profiles in Courage,” Phillips shares the passion of Ohio’s favorite sport through mini-biographies of the state’s greatest players and coach.
It was a project that took more than six years to complete, and includes interviews with Roger Staubach, Paul Warfield and Archie Griffin among others.
“Looking at Ohio football from a historical perspective, this region thrusts itself to the center of attention,” Phillips said. “It goes deeper than the Pro Football Hall of Fame, or even the founding of the NFL. Passion for football is something ingrained into the culture here.”
Boosting this project is professional artist Oscar Hinojosa, a Bowling Green graduate whose clients include the Jacksonville Jaguars, the PGA Tour and the U.S. Olympic Hockey team. Hinojosa offers two paintings of each Legend, resurrecting the subjects from their respective high school days.
“I tried to capture the sheer determination, vision and guts it takes to become one of football’s elite, along with the complete thrill and gratification that comes from being one of the best in the sport,” Hinojosa said.
Together, Phillips and Hinojosa chronicle the careers and bring to life the images of Staubach (Cincinnati Purcell), Griffin (Columbus Eastmoor),Warfield (Warren Harding), Vic Janowicz (Elyria), Chic Harley (Columbus East), Pete Henry (Mansfield), Marion Motley (Canton McKinley), Chris Spielman (Massillon), Charles Follis (Wooster) and coach Paul Brown among others.
“It was such a thrill to interview Roger Staubach. He talked about never getting over losing a championship game as a senior to Cincinnati Roger Bacon, but when his high school buddies joined him in Canton after his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, they had retold the story so many times it turned out they actually won that game,” Phillips said with a chuckle.
“I really enjoyed talking to family members, too,” he added. “Vic Janowicz’s brother Hank told me a recruiting story about Bing Crosby calling the house on the Buckeyes’ behalf, and what a big deal that was in the 1940s for a family that barely spoke English in the home to get a phone call from Bing Crosby.”
The book makes a great gift idea for football fans of all ages.
“Frankly, Oscar’s original artwork of the Legends is worth the price of the book,” Phillips said. “Seeing these guys in color from their high school days, there simply isn’t color art available of many of them, before now.”
Ray Dyson is a veteran editor for Keith Publications and covered the 1968 national championship Ohio State football team. He was impressed by the work as well.
“I had the pleasure of working professionally with award-winning sportswriter Larry Phillips for several years. He is not only a first-class writer, but his knowledge of Ohio football is deep and authentic,” Dyson said. “It was my great pleasure to serve as editor of this book, although Larry needed very little help in that regard.
“It is a wonderful read, bringing these Legends of the game to stirring life. Football fan or not, you are going to enjoy this.”