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USA Today gives spotlight to Chip Hilton sports series

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–In a culture that spotlights the antics of over-paid, often immoral athletes, it is refreshing to see a newspaper with millions of readers feature a wholesome ballplayer.

Though he is fictional, all-American sports hero Chip Hilton was an attraction for young readers in the 1950s and ’60s, many who read all 23 books in the series written by Hall of Fame basketball coach Claire Bee from 1948-1966.

But now there is a 24th book, and Broadman & Holman, the trade book publishing arm of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, is publishing it.

In its July 3 sports section, USA Today ran a cover story by reporter Eric Hillstrom chronicling the events that led to the publication of the 24th book in the series, “Fiery Fullback.” In fact, Hillstrom said he had read the popular series when he was a boy growing up in Wisconsin.

In his story, Hillstrom recounts how Bee had never submitted the manuscript for the 24th book to his publisher, thinking that the wholesome exploits of Chip wouldn’t mesh with the growing cynicism of the ’60s.

But before his death in 1983, Bee’s daughter, Cindy Farley, and her husband, Randy, promised the writer and coach they would get his 24th book published.

In the late 1990s, the Farleys contacted Broadman & Holman to ask if it would consider updating the books to make them more readable to a modern audience. They did, and the 23 books have been released periodically since 1998.

However, both B&H and the Farleys agreed Bee’s final book, “Fiery Fullback,” would be published exactly as he wrote it. The book is being published nearly 40 years after Bee wrote the original manuscript.

“We are thrilled about the story in USA Today,” said Paul Mikos, trade books marketing director for B&H. “This level of national exposure helps our efforts in getting the writings of Claire Bee out to a larger audience. We know young readers in the ’50s and ’60s enjoyed Coach Bee’s works. It’s very exciting and rewarding to see kids in this generation reading the Chip Hilton series too.”

The book, to be released Aug. 15, is being printed in a limited hardback collector’s edition with artwork similar to the original books. An updated version will be available in paperback form.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: FIERY FULLBACK.

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  • Brandy Campbell