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Jan 14 / King Kaufman

Danny Knobler: How I Got the Story on Mike Hessman, the real-life Crash Davis

I’ve started a new video series for Bleacher Report’s Advanced Program in Sports Media. It’s called “How I Got the Story,” and it’s as simple as that: A writer telling me how they went about creating a story or a series of stories, from idea through reporting and writing.

First up in the series is B/R MLB Lead Writer Danny Knobler, who talks about his August 2015 piece “What’s It Like to Be Baseball’s Real Crash Davis?” That story was about Mike Hessman of the Toledo Mud Hens, who had just broken the career record for minor league home runs—as the fictional Davis had done in the movie “Bull Durham.”

A big challenge Knobler faced: Hessman isn’t a very interesting guy! That’s not a criticism. It’s just who he is. Knobler’s editors thought it would be fun if he could get Hessman to talk about “being Crash Davis.” Knobler didn’t think that was going to work:

I know Mike and I know that Mike’s not the most colorful guy in the world. He’s a very nice guy. Real good guy. Not terribly colorful. And he was unlikely to play along with exactly what they wanted.

Knobler was right. Hessman was pleasant and generous with his time, but “not much there in terms of exciting stories.”

To hear how Danny got a good story anyway, watch the video