Wayne Coffey, a former centerfielder who once ran a 4.5 40 and believed he could beat out any infield grounder, turned to writing in desperation after his childhood plan to replace Mickey Mantle in the Yankee outfield did not pan out. A graduate of Binghamton University with a degree in history and philosophy and a deep appreciation of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who believed you could not step in the same river twice, Wayne began his career working for the Associated Press in the Cleveland Bureau, where he learned to write game stories on deadline and to not ask Frank Robinson, then-manager of the Cleveland Indians, hard questions after Indians defeats. Following a stint as an editor-in-chief of a community newspaper in his hometown of Huntington, L.I., he turned to writing young-adult books, including the classic How We Choose A Congress, which explained in cracking prose how your representatives and senators get to Washington, and sold upwards of 100 copies.
Buoyed by the runaway success of his first book, Wayne kept writing, cranking out more than a dozen YA sports titles in the ensuing years, among them All Stars of Pro Football, before branching out to write for newspapers and magazines, including Redbook, where he published a piece on procrastination that was very well-received when he finally finished it. After meeting the sports editor of the New York Daily News, the late Vic Ziegel, at a holiday party, Wayne accepted a position as a sports reporter, going on to become the paper’s principal sports enterprise/feature writer, covering 12 Olympics, many Final Fours, a few Wimbledons and no Westminster Dog Shows, and winning a number of writing awards along the way.
Wayne continued to write books, and got better at it. His YA title, When Your Parent Drinks Too Much (written under the pseudonym Eric Ryerson) was named one of the best books of the year by the American Library Association. The Boys of Winter, his book on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, became a New York Times bestseller, as did collaborations he did with R.A. Dickey (Wherever I Wind Up), Mariano Rivera (The Closer) and Carli Lloyd (When Nobody Was Watching). When Wayne’s publisher, Crown, suggested a book tied to the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Mets, he could hardly believe his good fortune; he had grown up rooting for the Mets, and in fact, was at Shea Stadium with his grandfather when the Mets beat the Baltimore Orioles in Game 5 to win the World Series. Wayne ran on the Shea field with tens of thousands of other miscreants, tearing up a four-square inch hunk of sod and running back to the safety of the stands. He planted the turf in his backyard in Huntington, watering it often until he went to college. His family eventually sold the house. While the whereabouts of the sod is unknown, Wayne had the best time reliving the wonder of the 1969 season, going around the country to talk to the men who made it happen.
The loyal husband of one and proud father of three, Wayne and his wife live in the Hudson Valley with four cats, who think they own the place, and actually do.