Lupica, Mike 1952-
Lupica, Mike 1952-
(Michael Thomas Lupica)
Born May 11, 1952, in Oneida, NY; son of Benedict (a personal manager) and Lee Lupica; married; children: three sons. Education: Boston College, B.A., 1974.
Journalist and novelist. Boston Globe, Boston, MA, correspondent, 1970-74; Boston Phoenix, Boston, columnist, 1971-75; Boston magazine, Boston, columnist, 1974-75; Washington Star, Washington, DC, feature writer, 1974-75; New York Post, New York, NY, basketball writer and columnist, 1975-76; New York News, New York, NY, columnist, 1977-81; New York Daily News, New York, NY, columnist, 1980—. Writer for World Tennis, 1974-81, and columnist for Esquire. Broadcast sports journalist for Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) Morning News, 1982-84; WCBS-TV, 1983; and WNBC Radio; Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN), sports journalist, 1982-83, and panelist for The Sports Reporters.
Newspaper Guild of America.
(With Reggie Jackson) Reggie: The Autobiography, Villard Books (New York, NY), 1984.
(With Bill Parcells) Parcells: Autobiography of the Biggest Giant of Them All, Bonus Books (Chicago, IL), 1987.
Shooting from the Lip: Essays, Columns, Quips, and Gripes in the Grand Tradition of Dyspeptic Sports Writing (nonfiction), Bonus Books, 1988.
(With William Goldman) Wait Till Next Year: The Story of a Season When What Should've Happened Didn't and What Could've Gone Wrong Did, Bantam (New York, NY), 1988.
Mad as Hell: How Sports Got away from the Fans—and How We Get It Back, Putnam (New York, NY), 1996.
(With Fred Imus) The Fred Book, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1998.
Summer of '98: When Homers Flew, Records Fell, and Baseball Reclaimed America, Putnam (New York, NY), 1999.
Jump, Villard Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Bump and Run, Putnam (New York, NY), 2000.
Full Court Press, Putnam (New York, NY), 2001.
Wild Pitch, Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.
Red Zone, Putnam (New York, NY), 2003.
"PETER FINLEY" MYSTERY SERIES
Dead Air, Villard Books (New York, NY), 1986.
Extra Credits, Villard Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Limited Partner, Villard Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Travel Team, Philomel (New York, NY), 2004.
Too Far, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.
Heat, Philomel (New York, NY), 2006.
Miracle on 49th Street, Philomel (New York, NY), 2006.
Shooting Guard, Philomel (New York, NY), 2007.
Summer Ball, Philomel (New York, NY), 2007.
Several of Lupica's books have been adapted as audiobooks by Listening Library, among them Heat, 2006.
"I grew up reading such writers as Dan Jenkins, Jimmy Breslin, and Pete Hamill," sports journalist Mike Lupica once noted, "and always wanted to go the ‘Breslin route’—that is, to write a sports column for a major newspaper and then to write books." By any standard, Lupica has fulfilled that ambition; in addition to being a nationally syndicated sports columnist based at the New York Daily News, he has written not only sports-related autobiographies and other works of nonfiction, but also fiction for both teens and adults. In novels such as Bump and Run and Wild Pitch Lupica shares with readers his insider's view of the cutthroat world of professional sports, often centering his stories in and around his own home plate, New York City. Boston serves as the setting for Lupica's young-adult novels Travel Team and Miracle on 49th Street, while Too Far provides an entre into the world of a Long Island high school basketball player who, aided by a disillusioned sportswriter, attempts to solve the murder of a young teammate. "Real-life news reports … give Lupica's tale a ripped-from-the-headlines thrill," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor in a review of Too Far, while another contributor noted in the same periodical that in Travel Team the journalist-turned novelist "clearly shoots from the heart."
After graduating from Boston College in 1974, Lupica stayed in that city while beginning his sports writing career. With a move south to the Big Apple in 1980, he assumed national prominence as part of the staff of the New York Daily News. Lupica's reputation as a straight-talking columnist was enhanced by his presence on television shows such as The Sports Reporters on ESPN and The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour on the Public Broadcasting System. His first two book-length works, "as-told-to" autobiographies of baseball legend Reggie Jackson and former New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells, were published in 1984 and 1987 respectively. Inevitably, reviewers' attention focused less on the books themselves than on the personalities of their high-profile subjects: Jackson was often seen as arrogant and boastful and Parcells was known for his single-minded dedication to the sport. In Chicago's Tribune Books, however, Robert Cromie described Reggie: The Autobiography as "highly readable," while Michael Wilbon, writing in the Washington Post Book World, called Parcells: Autobiography of the Biggest Giant of Them All "deftly crafted, as one expects from Lupica."
In the mid-1980s Lupica tried his hand at fiction, turning out three genre thrillers featuring a journalist as protagonist. Readers first meet the fictional Peter Fin-
ley, an investigative reporter for a New York City cable television station, in Dead Air. The book's plot is set in motion when a former Miss America, now the host of a late-night television talk show, disappears and is presumed dead. When Finley is asked by the victim's husband to look into her disappearance, corpses start turning up, all of them connected with the show's network, which is about to be taken over by a Christian broadcasting network. In Extra Credits, the next book in the series, Finley is approached by a college student who persuades the reporter to investigate the mysterious suicide of her wealthy and attractive friend. Limited Partner finds Finley probing the death by drug overdose of a friend, a recovering addict who is also part owner of a trendy Manhattan night spot. When the victim's girlfriend dies just a few days later, also of an overdose, Finley is convinced of foul play.
At the center of each of Lupica's "Peter Finley" novels is the island of Manhattan: its bars and bistros, and its dark side of drug-dealing and amoral wealth. Jean M. White, writing in the Washington Post Book World, criticized Extra Credits for overemphasizing the details of its setting, complaining that the book reads like a "what's-in list for New York magazine." In Chicago's Tribune Books, however, Alice Cromie found similar details in Dead Air "amusingly depicted." Reviewers were similarly divided over Finley, the novels' wisecracking, fast-talking hero. In the New York Times Book Review, Michael Lichtenstein wrote that Limited Partner is marred by Finley's flip "one-liners." Yet Newgate Callendar, also in the New York Times Book Review, admired the "street-smart" hero and concluded of Extra Credits: "The writing is sophisticated, the dialogue bright." In 1988, television star Kevin Dobson took an option on the Finley character with the goal of developing it into a television series.
The adult novels Jump, Bump and Run, Too Far, Wild Pitch, Full Court Press, and Red Zone all draw upon Lupica's insider's knowledge of high-profile athletics. In Jump, two pro basketball teammates stand accused of rape by a New York City actress. The players call upon investigative attorney Mike DiMaggio to piece together the truth about the assault and explore the actress's motivations for waiting a year before she lodged the charges. Moving to baseball in Wild Pitch, Lupica introduces forty-something Charlie Stoddard, a washed-up former-pro pitcher who decides to make another go of his athletic career after an old sports injury clears up. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that Jump "crackles with tension, excitement and hip authenticity," and concluded that Lupica's "amalgam of tightly written sports story and crime fiction sinks a winning basket." Noting the redemptive theme in Wild Pitch, Wes Lukowsky added in a Booklist review of the novel that Lupica "captures both the insanity" prevalent in the world of professional sports "and the appeal that baseball still has for the eternal child who lives within every fan."
Bump and Run takes a more comic tone, as Jock Molloy, a Las Vegas casino concierge, inherits his billionaire father's pro football team and applies his casino expertise to the task of constructing a winning franchise. Similar in tone, Red Zone finds Molloy still president of the New York Hawks football team. When his decision to enter into a lucrative partnership threatens his ability to actively manage the team, Jack draws on his Vegas-style strong-arming skills to battle his new partner, a greedy financier willing to clip the Hawks' wings in exchange for a healthy return on investment. A Publishers Weekly contributor found Bump and Run "hilarious but slightly disturbing," styling the novel "a deliciously wicked tale of contemporary professional sports and the people who … run the game." In Booklist, Lukowsky likewise praised Lupica for "getting fresh laughs from a classic premise—the streetwise kid beating a bunch of snotty rich guys at their own game." Calling Lupica's adult novels "soap-opera fantasies for men,"Lukowsky also noted in his subsequent review of Red Zone that the novelist "propels the plot at breakneck speed with sitcom-like zingers … and an insider's knowledge of professional sports.
Lupica turns to a younger readership in Travel Team, his first novel for teens. Here he draws on his experiences as a youth basketball coach in telling the story of a twelve-year-old player who deals with the advantages and disadvantages of being on a team coached by his dad. Danny Walker's father, Richie, a former basketball pro, is highly competitive, and he wants his son to succeed. Possessing a natural talent but too short to qualify for the middle-school basketball team, Danny has the drive needed to succeed. When Richie starts a new team to give boys like his son another chance at the title, Danny must decide if he really wants basketball to consume his life, the way it did his dad's. Calling Travel Team "an excellent sports story," Claire Rosser noted in her Kliatt review that the book demonstrates the author's "great respect for the boys struggling to deal with their own skills, their fathers, their teammates, and their coaches." In School Library Journal, Joel Shoemaker called Travel Team "a fun book for sports fans" that draws comparisons to Sparkplug of the Hornets, a YA sports classic penned by Stephen W. Meader.
In Heat, another young-adult novel by Lupica, readers meet Michael and Carlos Arroyo, two Cuban-American brothers. Orphaned by their beloved father's recent death, the boys pretend that their dad is still among the living. They claim that he is visiting a relative in Miami so that they can avoid foster care and remain together in the family's Bronx apartment. While Michael is only twelve years old, Carlos is almost eighteen and a legal adult; with the help of a few close friends, the teen is optimistic that the brothers' ruse may actually work. For Michael, however, there are more pressing concerns: when questions about Michael's age surface due to his strength as an ace Little League pitcher, team officials demand to see the boy's birth certificate; but where did Papi keep it? A growing friendship with a girl whose dad once pitched for the New York Yankees provides a bright spot in the young boy's tumultuous world. Citing "dialogue [that] crackles, and the rich cast of supporting characters," Bill Ott wrote in Booklist that the author "wrings plenty of genuine emotion" from the boys' predicament. While noting that the plot sometimes "veers toward melodrama," Marilyn Taniguchi praised the novel in her School Library Journal review, writing that the "sports scenes are especially well written" and paired with "humor [and] crisp dialogue." In Publishers Weekly a reviewer dubbed Heat "a baseball story with heart" that features "convincing characterization and exciting on-field action," while Kliatt contributor Paula Rohrlick concluded that in Heat "sports journalist Lupica … pitches another winner."
Another twelve year old takes center field—or, in this case, center court—in Miracle on 49th Street. For pre-teen Molly Parker, basketball is the game of choice, because her dad is Josh Cameron, a star player for the Boston Celtics. For Josh, the fact that he even has a daughter came as something of a shock; Molly had been raised in England by a mom who had moved away and never told her college sweetheart about her preg-
nancy. Fortunately father and daughter find a place for each other in their lives, in a "winning novel" that Todd Morning noted in Booklist allows readers "a look in side Josh's pampered sports-superstar world." Noting that "friendship is a key element" in Miracle on 49th Street, Kliatt reviewer Janice Flint-Ferguson added that through Lupica's novel, readers can gain "a deeper understanding of the complexity of relationships." For School Library Journal reviewer Jeffrey A. French, the story contains "enough twists and cliff-hangers to keep the pages turning," while Molly is notable as a "strong female character."
Although he has made a name for himself as a novelist, Lupica is known to many readers due to his journalism, which has been reprinted in several collections. Shooting from the Lip: Essays, Columns, Quips, and Gripes in the Grand Tradition of Dyspeptic Sports Writing, for example, collects several of Lupica's essays and newspaper columns. Diane Cole, writing in the New York Times Book Review, found the pieces "engaging and often exhilarating" in their reliance on a single mood or moment to capture the essence of a season or an athlete's career. Mad as Hell: How Sports Got away from the Fans—and How We Get It Back summarizes the complaints of many sports enthusiasts: namely, that players are overpaid, owners too greedy, and ordinary fans are priced out of the country's major-league ballparks. In Booklist, Lukowsky maintained that those who share Lupica's concerns "will enjoy sputtering angrily as they read this litany of wrongdoing." The columnist strikes a much more optimistic tone in Summer of '98: When Homers Flew, Records Fell, and Baseball Reclaimed America. Taking as its subject the eventful 1998 professional baseball season, Lupica weaves together tales of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battling for the home run record with poignant asides on the ability of baseball to unite fathers and sons. A Publishers Weekly reviewer deemed Summer of '98 a "feel-great book" in which Lupica "gives himself completely over to the beauty of baseball as … a game."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, December 15, 1994, Wes Lukowsky, review of Jump, p. 715; October 15, 1996, Wes Lukowsky, review of Mad as Hell: How Sports Got away from the Fans—and How We Get It Back, p. 397; September 1, 2000, Wes Lukowsky, review of Bump and Run, p. 71; September 1, 2002, Wes Lukowsky, review of Wild Pitch, p. 46; October 15, 2003, Wes Lukowsky, review of Red Zone, p. 357; November 15, 2004, Alan Moores, review of Too Far, p. 532; April 1, 2006, Bill Ott, review of Heat, p. 43; May 1, 2006, Karen Cruze, review of Travel Team, p. 98; September 1, 2006, Todd Morning, review of Miracle on 49th Street, p. 116.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 2006, Elizabeth Bush, review of Heat, p. 412; November, 2006, Elizabeth Bush, review of Miracle on 49th Street, p. 134.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2000, review of Bump and Run, p. 1136; July 15, 2002, review of Wild Pitch, p. 983; October 1, 2003, review of Red Zone, p. 1194; October 1, 2004, review of Travel Team, p. 964; November 15, 2004, review of Too Far, p. 1063; March 1, 2006, review of Heat, p. 235; October 1, 2006, review of Miracle on 49th Street, p. 1018.
Kliatt, January, 2003, review of Full Court Press, p. 16; November, 2003, Janet Julian, review of Wild Pitch, p. 17; September, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of Travel Team, p. 13; March, 2006, Paula Rohrlick, review of Heat, p. 14; November, 2006, Janis Flint-Ferguson, review of Miracle on 49th Street, p. 14, and Miles Klein, review of Travel Team, p. 50.
Library Journal, November 1, 2003, David Wright, review of Red Zone, p. 124.
Los Angeles Times, July 17, 1987.
New York Times Book Review, August 19, 1984, p. 19; May 26, 1986, p. 14; May 29, 1988, p. 15; July 31, 1988, p. 25; October 14, 1990, p. 48; May 30, 1999, George Robinson, "Big Mac, Sammy and the Yanks," p. 16.
Publishers Weekly, February 6, 1995, review of Jump, p. 76; August 26, 1996, review of Mad as Hell, p. 85; February 8, 1999, review of Summer of '98: When Homers Flew, Records Fell, and Baseball Reclaimed America, p. 202; October 9, 2000, review of Bump and Run, p. 70; July 22, 2002, review of Wild Pitch, p. 157; October 20, 2003, review of Red Zone, p. 33; November 15, 2004, review of Too Far, p. 40; January 3, 2005, review of Travel Team, p. 56; February 20, 2006, review of Heat, p. 157; November 6, 2006, review of Miracle on 49th Street, p. 62.
School Library Journal, November, 2004, Joel Shoemaker, review of Travel Team, p. 149; April, 2006, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Heat, p. 144; November, 2006, Jeffrey A. French, review of Miracle on 49th Street, p. 141.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), July 1, 1984, p. 28; August 10, 1986, p. 47.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2007, review of Heat, p. 488.
Washington Post Book World, October 2, 1987; June 19, 1988, p. 8.
New York Daily News Online,http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/co/lupica/ (March 20, 2007), "Mike Lupica."