St. John, Warren
ST. JOHN, Warren
PERSONAL: Born in Birmingham, AL; married. Education: Graduated from Columbia University.
CAREER: New York Times, New York, NY, journalist.
Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey into the Heart of Fan Mania, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to New York Observer, New Yorker, and Wired.
SIDELIGHTS: Warren St. John takes readers inside the world of fanatical sports fans in his book Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey into the Heart of Fan Mania. Born in Alabama, St. John is a lifelong fan of the Crimson Tide, the football team at the University of Alabama. The Crimson Tide has a long tradition of a cultish following, including a large group of devotees who travel from one game to the next in campers and recreational vehicles (RVs), forming a close-knit community as they repeatedly set up their traveling homes in stadium parking lots. St. John, who had left Alabama to attend Columbia University and later to work as a reporter for the New York Times, decided to join these die-hard fans and write a book about their lives. His initial idea was to ride along with various Tide followers, but he found that to truly be accepted by them, he had to purchase his own RV. St. John relates the stories of fans such as a husband and wife so dedicated to the team that they missed their daughter's wedding because it was on a game day; a man who risked missing out on a needed heart transplant because of his insistence on traveling to away games; and a fan whose anxiety before Tide games was so intense that it regularly caused him to vomit.
St. John's portraits of extreme fans are amusing, yet he "is never mocking and has no intention of turning the RVing Alabama football fan pack into a freak show," reported a Kirkus Reviews writer. The author's own status as a long-time fan provides an interesting counterpoint to his journalistic stance, according to Booklist contributor Alan Moores, who characterized St. John's depiction of Alabama fans as "sharp, sneaky-funny, but not unlovingly drawn." In addition to reporting on his rovings with Tide fans, St. John also comments on sports and society in general. According to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, the author "uncovers the ugly, quirky and splendid qualities" of football fans and the culture of the American South in a book that is both "amusing and insightful."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2004, Alan Moores, review of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey into the Heart of Fan Mania, p. 1810
Entertainment Weekly, August 13, 2004, Gilbert Cruz, review of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, p. 93.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2004, review of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, p. 530.
Library Journal, July, 2004, Jim Burns, review of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, p. 91.
Newsweek, August 23, 2004, William Lee Adams, review of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, p. 16.
Publishers Weekly, June 14, 2004, review of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, p. 54.
School Library Journal, February, 2005, Lynn Nutwell, review of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, p. 159.
Sports Illustrated, August 16, 2004, Warren St. John, Mark Bechtel, and Stephen Cannella, "Renaissance Fan: Embrace Your Inner Couch Potato," p. 19; September 20, 2004, Charles Hirshberg, review of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, p. Z14.
Gawker.com, http://www.gawker.com/ (August 16, 2004), interview with St. John.
Rammerjammeryellowhammer.com (St. John's Home Page), http://www.rammerjammeryellowhammer.com (February 25, 2005).