Sunday, September 21, 2008

Making of the Book, Part 3

By Chris Wendel
January ’08: The narrative is written and we have some decent material to work with. Tim has interviewed key players, Dr. Jack Ramsay, and Paul Snyder all of which have no problem with going back and talking about the Braves. In fact we have the sense that the players and Ramsay are excited to talk about the Braves brief success in the mid 70’s.

Even with a great narrative and memorabilia, the book is lacking the visual detail it deserves. Several devout Buffalo fans I have competed with on eBay want to know if they could let me use items from their Braves collection. Another tells me the whereabouts of Robert L. Smith the former official photographer of the Bills and Braves.

After several emails and phone calls, I make the trek from Michigan to Orchard Park and sit down with Smith. We talk over morning coffee; we develop trust and a good comfort level. Two hours later we have an agreement to use photos I’ve yet to actually see.

I get to tour his basement which is the best photographic shrine to Buffalo sports I’ll ever see. There are a few Braves pictures and predictably the Bills are the focus (Smith was the Bills photographer from their 1960 inception to 2004). I’m enamored with the shots from the AFL title teams that included Jack Kemp, Butch Byrd, and Billy Shaw. The best parts are Bob’s background stories on each photo he shows me

My 2-3 hours with Smith leave me appreciating his tremendous talent and longevity. Bob (as I now feel I can call him) will take the next few days and see what he has to offer up from his Braves archives and send them to me in a few days to Michigan.

February ’08: I’m now home in Michigan. After negotiating an equitable fee, the wide selection of photos arrives. They are better than advertised and the process of putting out a high quality book is now assured. It’s a painstaking and time consuming process but we’ve now turned a major corner.

No comments: