Macy, Sue 1954-
Macy, Sue 1954-
Born May 13, 1954, in New York, NY; daughter of Morris M. (a certified public accountant) and Ruth F. (a homemaker) Macy. Education: Princeton University, B.A., 1976. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: "I like to swim, work out at the gym, take photographs, cook, bake, and, of course, eat. I have a cat named Lacey who has been present as I've written every one of my books. I collect old books, magazines, postcards, and posters that feature women playing sports. I'm also a big TV fan, and can usually hold my own while discussing TV trivia."
Home—Englewood, NJ. E-mail—[email protected]
Scholastic, Inc., New York, NY, research coordinator, 1976-78, assistant, then associate editor, Scholastic Newstime, 1978-80, editor, then associate editorial director, math magazines, 1983-88, editorial director, science and math magazines, 1991-94, project editor, Scholastic Reference, 1994-96; full-time freelance writer, 1980-83; Fukutake Publishing Ltd., New York, NY, editor in chief, Challenge Plus (monthly science magazine), 1988-90; editor in chief, Careers & Colleges magazine (for high school students), 1997-99; columnist, WeSweat.com, 1999-2000; independent contractor, editorial and curriculum development, 1999—.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Women's Sports Foundation, American Jewish Historical Society, National Council of Jewish Women, National Organization of Women, American Association of University Women, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association.
Distinguished achievement awards, Educational Press Association, 1987-91, for editing; A Whole New Ball Game received Best Book awards from School Library Journal, American Library Association, and New York Public Library, 1993-94, and was named a National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, 1994; Best Book awards, School Library Journal, American Library Association, and New York Public Library, 1996-97; Editor's Choice award, Booklist magazine, 1996, for Winning Ways; Children's Pick of the Lists, American Booksellers Association, 1999, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, American Library Association, 2000, and Best Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, 2000, all for Play like a Girl; Gold Medal for Nonfiction, National Parenting Publications Association, 2001, and Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council, 2001, both for Bull's-Eye.
A Whole New Ball Game: The Story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, Holt (New York, NY), 1993, revised edition with new afterword, 1995.
Winning Ways: A Photohistory of American Women in Sports, Holt (New York, NY), 1996.
Barbie: Shooting Hoops, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor, with Jane Gottesman) Play like a Girl: A Celebration of Women in Sports, Holt (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor) Girls Got Game: Sports Stories and Poems, Holt (New York, NY), 2001.
Swifter, Higher, Stronger: A Photographic History of the Summer Olympics, foreword by Bob Costas, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2004.
Freeze Frame: A Photographic History of the Winter Olympics, foreword by Peggy Fleming, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2006.
Contributor to Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like?, by Jane Gottesman, Random House (New York, NY), 2001, and Thirty-three Things Every Girl Should Know About Women's History, edited by Tonya Bolden, Crown Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Author and editor Sue Macy has combined a background in newspaper reporting and magazine and book editing with her enthusiasm for history, sports, and people in her various books, including the 1993 A Whole New Ball Game: The Story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Praised for its thorough research and thoughtful insights into both the lives of league members and society as a whole, Macy's book includes photographs, baseball stats, and a league chronology of the years from 1943-54, when women took to the playing fields of America.
"When I was in eleventh grade, I wrote an essay about why I planned to become a writer," Macy once noted. "I lied. At the time, I really wanted to go into law, a profession that seemed more glamorous and upwardly mobile than writing." However, winning a scholarship to Northwestern University's summer high school journalism institute through her local newspaper soon changed all that. "My five weeks at Northwestern helped me discover that having the ability or talent to write didn't mean much without lots of practice," the author explained. "The more I had to face that blank sheet of paper in my typewriter, the faster and more fluidly I seemed to write." The North Jersey Herald-News hired Macy as a summer intern for the next three years, and she gained plenty of writing practice. Beginning with obituaries, she moved on to feature writing, profiling "million-dollar lottery winners, meals on wheels volunteers, Vietnam POWs," and others. One of the highlights of her stint with the paper was an interview with 1950s tennis great Althea Gibson. "As I took home my paycheck week after week (sixty-four dollars before taxes)," Macy remembered, "the idea of writing for a living began to look more and more appealing.
"At the time, writing to me meant journalism," Macy continued. "I was never a great reader of books, although my home was filled with exquisite volumes of the classics published by the George Macy Company, started by my great uncle. But those books always seemed forbidding. When my teachers assigned book reports, I was much more likely to choose an autobiography or a work of nonfiction than one of those leather-bound collector's items. And in my spare time, instead of reading novels, I read newspapers. Like my parents, I started every morning with the New York Times and ended every afternoon with the Herald-News. My hero was Times writer Judy Klemesrud, who usually had a feature piece on what was then called the ‘women's page.’ I read everything she wrote and, whenever possible, I tried to find local angles on her stories for the Herald-News.
"To me, the most effective writing has always focused on people—real people whose lives or actions held some significance which would make others want to read about them." This belief prompted Macy to study women's history in college, "because the untold stories of women's lives held a special significance for me." After graduating from Princeton University in 1976, she got a job at Scholastic, Inc., in New York City. "Which was somewhat satisfying," she added, "because most of the books I had liked as a kid were published by them."
Summers at the Herald-News had inspired Macy to become a writer; her early years at Scholastic taught her the basic skills in research and style—as well as the discipline—that helped make it happen. She traveled around the United States collecting information from the diaries of farmers, gold prospectors, Civil War soldiers, and settlers as research for an American history textbook. "I visited San Francisco and Santa Fe and Chicago and New Orleans, all the while expanding my ability to research and reinforcing my love of social history." Although it was exciting, she missed writing. After two years, Macy decided to join the staff of Scholastic Newstime, one of the company's weekly news magazines, where she wrote short articles, feature stories, and created the weekly puzzle page. "The magazine was aimed at sixth graders, so I learned what language and sentence structure were considered appropriate for younger readers…. It turned out that the simple, direct style I'd used on the Herald-News wasn't so different from the style in Newstime."
Two years later, Macy left Scholastic to become a freelance writer, "in part because I wanted to find a topic which I could stay with for more than a week," she explained. "In 1981 I found that topic—the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL)—and for the next ten years I did library research, interviewed former players, attended reunions, and quietly amassed my own personal archive of material on the league." During that time, she drew on her growing archive to write several articles on the league, meanwhile returning to Scholastic as an editor. In 1988, after joining the former members of the AAGPBL at a celebration opening an exhibit about the league at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Macy decided to begin A Whole New Ball Game: "Slowly, I started to put the league's story in some semblance of order, based on the dominant themes I saw of competition, community, and character. Sometimes, as I sat in my office, surrounded by the players' scrapbooks, their voices on my tape recorder, I felt I was traveling back in time. I could almost see their games in progress, feel their weariness as they bounced along on a long bus trip after a tense nightgame."
Beginning in 1943, when female baseball players first came together under league founder P.K. Wrigley to supplement the major leagues, which had all but shut down due to World War II, A Whole New Ball Game covers the history of the first professional woman's baseball league in U.S. history up to its demise in 1954. "Employing a clear writing style and abundant photographs, Macy manages to condense the history of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and quite a bit of social history from the period as well, to a crisp 109 pages of text," commented Andrew S. Hughes in the South Bend Tribune, "becoming neither condescending nor preaching to either her intended audience or adult readers." Macy explores the camaraderie among the women players, some as young as fourteen years of age, and the way the league played to—and against—social prejudices, such as racism and sexism. "Macy's greatest contribution is placing the league in an historical and sociological context," Ilene Cooper noted in Booklist, praising the author for her well-balanced, untrivialized approach to an almost forgotten era in sports history. From regulations governing dress and time spent off-the-field—designed to preserve the players' "feminine mystique"—to the exhausting pace of daily games and constant travel and the social pressures on American women to leave the workforce for home and hearth after the end of the war, Macy traces the factors that spelled the end for the AAGPBL in 1954.
Macy found critical response to A Whole New Ball Game encouraging, but the most cherished praise she received came from the league players themselves—like Louise "Lou" Arnold, a former pitcher with the South Bend Blue Sox. "I returned home from a business trip one Sunday to find my answering machine blinking with Lou's message," Macy remembered. "‘Hi, Sue, it's Lou Arnold…. I read your book and I just love it. You really did a nice job, Sue, and I just want to say Congratulations…. I enjoyed it so much. Good job, Susie!’"
Perhaps more than the satisfaction of completing her first book, Macy treasured the opportunity to come to know so many of the players personally. "They are role models for me," she once noted, "women who lived their lives on their own terms, following their hearts to claim their right to play the game they loved. That type of commitment requires self-confidence and passion and, on a good day, I feel that some of their strength rubbed off on me. Now, as I research and write about other athletes in women's sports history, I see that desire, that resolve in them, too. It's amazing to me that many of these sports heroes have been forgotten or overlooked by history. I feel a commitment of my own to share their stories."
Macy continues to reflect her admiration for female athletes in her work, writing and editing a number of books on the subject, including Play like a Girl: A Celebration of Women in Sports, Girls Got Game: Sports Stories and Poems, and Winning Ways: A Photo-history of Women in Sports, among others. Reviewing Play like a Girl for School Library Journal, Kate Kohlbeck called the collection of photographs, quotes, and essays from various sources an "inspirational book." Similarly, Girls Got Game is a collection of short stories and poems that focus on the experiences of young female athletes and their triumphs and tribulations. Noting the uniqueness of the subject, a Kirkus Reviews critic characterized this anthology as "original" and insightful. And Victoria Kidd, writing in School Library Journal, felt that in addition to being informational, this anthology is sure to "empower" and "guide" readers. In Winning Ways Macy presents a "highly readable" history of women in sports, including photographs and anecdotes, wrote Laura Tillotson in Booklist. The critic was especially appreciative of Macy's efforts to draw parallels between the struggles faced by women in sports and in society, as well as her focus on minority athletes, characterizing the work as "amazing" and inspirational. Mary M. Burns, contributing to Horn Book, also felt that Macy had done an excellent job of writing this socio-history, calling it "a fine tribute and introduction to an impressive array of athletes."
Macy also authored Bull's-Eye: A Photobiography of Annie Oakley, a biography of Phoebe Ann Moses, a young woman from rural Ohio who went on to become the subject of legends as part of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. In her biography of Oakley, Macy traces Oakley's life from childhood on, before she became famous, focusing especially on her attempts to teach women to learn to use firearms to protect themselves. Also included in the work are a chronology, bibliography, and index. "Macy does a good job of sifting out the facts and retelling them in an enjoyable fashion," wrote Booklist contributor Randy Meyer.
In Swifter, Higher, Stronger: A Photographic History of the Summer Olympics, Macy offers a guide to the modern Olympic games. Beginning with the 1896 Olympiad in Athens, Greece, Macy documents not only great individual achievements but also examines such controversial topics as drug scandals and racism. According to Booklist reviewer Jennifer Mattson, "one comes away with a strong sense of how defining Olympian moments can provide a springboard to world history," and School Library Journal critic Andrew Medlar observed that the author "shares her own young Olympic dreams to represent the appeal of the Games and how they have changed over time." A companion volume, Freeze Frame: A Photographic History of the Winter Olympics, looks at the triumphs and tragedies of the winter games that began in Chamonix, France, in 1924. "Macy's easy, anecdotal style is both substantive and captivating," wrote Gillian Engberg in Booklist.
"Writing empowers me," Macy noted on her Web site. "It helps me to communicate with other people and get my ideas across. It also helps me satisfy my curiosity. I love learning about people who led interesting lives, seeing their old diaries and photographs of them in action, piecing together their stories. For me, there's nothing as exciting as sitting in an out-of-the-way library digging through a box of somebody's collected papers. I never know what I'll discover."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 1993, Ilene Cooper, review of A Whole New Ball Game: The Story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, p. 1309; June 1, 1996, Laura Tillotson, review of Winning Ways: A Photohistory of Women in Sports, p. 1722; July, 1999, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Play like a Girl, p. 1937; March 1, 2000, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Winning Ways: A Photohistory of Women in Sports, p. 1248; June 1, 2001, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Girls Got Game: Sports Stories and Poems, p. 1858; November 15, 2001, Randy Meyer, review of Bull's-Eye: A Photobiography of Annie Oakley, p. 568; July, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Swifter, Higher, Stronger: A Photographic History of the Summer Olympics, p. 1843; December 15, 2005, Gillian Engberg, review of Freeze Frame: A Photographic History of the Winter Olympics, p. 39.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July-August, 1996, review of Winning Ways, p. 380.
Horn Book, September-October, 1996, Mary M. Burns, review of Winning Ways, p. 620.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1993, review of A Whole New Ball Game, p. 375; March 15, 2001, review of Girls Got Game, p. 415; August 15, 2001, review of Bull's-Eye, p. 1216; May 15, 2004, review of Swifter, Higher, Stronger, p. 495.
New York Times Book Review, July 14, 1996, review of Winning Ways, p. 19; November 18, 2001, Scott Veale, "Her Aim Was True," review of Bull's-Eye, p. 30.
Publishers Weekly, April 5, 1993, review of A Whole New Ball Game, p. 80; October 18, 1999, "Going for the Burn," p. 85; June 14, 2004, "Just the Facts," review of Swifter, Higher, Stronger, p. 64.
School Library Journal, May, 1993, Tom S. Hurburt, review of A Whole New Ball Game, p. 118; September, 1999, Kate Kohlbeck, review of Play like a Girl, p. 238; July, 2001, Victoria Kidd, review of Girls Got Game, p. 128; October, 2001, Nancy Collins-Warner, review of Bull's-Eye, p. 188; June, 2004, Andrew Medlar, review of Swifter, Higher, Stronger, p. 170; February, 2006, Janice C. Hayes, review of Freeze Frame, p. 150.
South Bend Tribune, August 1, 1993, Andrew S. Hughes, "Books on Girls' Baseball Team Up."
Stone Soup, summer, 1995, Merenda Garnett-Krantz, review of A Whole New Ball Game, pp. 17-19.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1993, review of A Whole New Ball Game, p. 323.
Whole Earth, summer, 1998, Nancy Levin, review of Winning Ways, p. 98.
Sue Macy Home Page,http://www.suemacy.com (January 1, 2007).