Born in Philadelphia, PA; married; children: four.
Home—West Chester, PA. Office—Philadelphia Inquirer, P.O. Box 8263, Philadelphia, PA 19101.E-mail—[email protected]
Writer and journalist. Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, sportswriter, 1980—.
First prize, Associated Press Sports Editors, for best news story; finalist, Pulitzer Prize, 2001.
And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: Kentucky, Texas Western, and the Game That Changed American Sports, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.
You Can't Lose 'em All: The Year the Phillies Finally Won the World Series,Taylor Trade (Dallas, TX), 2001.
Sportswriter Frank Fitzpatrick has written many articles on various sports topics, and in 2001 he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his sports journalism. Fitzpatrick's first full-length work, titled And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: Kentucky, Texas Western, and the Game That Changed American Sports, was published in 1999. The book gives a detailed account of the 1966 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship basketball game that pitted the Texas Western Miners against the Kentucky Wildcats. All of the Wildcats' players were Caucasian and the team was led by legendary coach Adolph Rupp. Indeed, many people felt Rupp was a racist because he was unwilling to recruit African-American players. Ironically, the Wildcats were set to play the first entirely African-American starting lineup in NCAA basketball championship history. The Miners won and, by doing so, they put an end to an unofficial rule that limited the number of African-American players allowed to start in a basketball game. Many reviewers praised Fitzpatrick's explanation of both the game and the social context that surrounded it. Bill Ott, reviewing And the Walls Came Tumbling Down in Booklist,called the book "fascinating," and Wes Lukowsky, also writing in Booklist, regarded the book as "a fascinating examination of sport's effect on society and the often unlikely agents of change."
Fitzpatrick followed And the Walls Came Tumbling Down with You Can't Lose 'em All: The Year the Phillies Finally Won the World Series. In the book, Fitzpatrick documents the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team's 1980 World Series triumph. Prior to the win, the Phillies had a long history of disappointing losses. Fitzpatrick pieces together interviews with players and coaches to show how the team developed into champions.You Can't Lose 'em All examines famed baseball players Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, Steve Carlton, and Tug McGraw, who were all members of Philadelphia's baseball team in 1980. Tom Auger, writing in the Library Journal, felt that the author "shows real insight into these players' personalities," and added that "the result is a thoroughly entertaining work." Other critics held similar opinions, including Lukowsky, again writing in Booklist, who concluded:You Can't Lose 'em All is "a fine baseball book, sure to be savored by fans for years to come."
In 2005 Fitzpatrick published The Lion in Autumn: A Season with Joe Paternoand Penn State Football. The book examines Pennsylvania State University's Nittany Lions' losing 2004 football season. Fitzpatrick focuses on legendary coach Joe Paterno, who came under criticism when his team entered a losing streak that lasted five seasons. The author conducted an exclusive interview with Paterno and followed the Nittany Lions throughout the entire season in order to write The Lion in Autumn. Reviewers applauded Fitzpatrick's intimate view of Paterno and his team. Alan Moores, writing in Booklist, thought that the book "will enable any reader to appreciate [Paterno's] story in this and future Paterno seasons." Brian Bianca, writing in the Sentinel Online, was also laudatory, noting that "Fitzpatrick digs beyond the 4-7 record to show the pressures facing Paterno, and to a greater degree, how the coach dealt with the emotions of each mounting loss." Bianca further commented that the book is "the closest we'll come to seeing who Joe Paterno really is."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 1999, Wes Lukowsky, review of And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: Kentucky, Texas Western, and the Game That Changed American Sports, p. 1026; September 1, 1999, Bill Ott, review of And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, p. 62; September 1, 2001, Wes Lukowsky, review of You Can't Lose 'em All: The Year the Phillies Finally Won the World Series, p. 34; September 1, 2005, Alan Moores, review of The Lion in Autumn: A Season with Joe Paterno and Penn State Football, p. 52.
Library Journal, September 1, 2001, Tom Auger, review of You Can't Lose 'em All, p. 189.
Philadelphia Inquirer Online,http://www.philly.com/(April 11, 2006), brief biography of author.
Sentinel Online,http://www.cumberlink.com/ (September 8, 2005), Brian Bianca, "A Different Look at the Iconic Paterno," review of The Lion in Autumn.