In October 2007 when Paul and I first talked about doing this book, we didn't know each other. We'd made contact online, and via emails offered each other our perspectives and ideas about the way we could develop the story. Then we talked on the phone. I asked him what he wanted to accomplish with it. He said he wanted to describe what it was like working for the New York Yankees. He would talk about things that had happened to him there, as well as in his personal life. There would be a lot of secrets disclosed. And it would all be true.
A sort of tell-all book? I asked. "Yes," he said. "The public deserves to know." I asked how much of it would be about baseball itself, since I'm not a big sports fan. He said he wasn't either, so the baseball aspects would be the things he had learned from casually observing, and you wouldn't need to be a fan to understand the book.
But a fan would still find it interesting? "Definitely," he said, "especially Yankee fans." I told him that publishing a tell-all book can be tricky and I asked if he was willing to undergo a lie detector test to verify that what he said was, in fact, the truth. Without missing a beat, he replied "Of course. Absolutely."
That was encouraging. After a lengthy conversation that covered a wide range of material, I decided that we had enough of a basis to begin work. I trusted my writer's intuition to alert me if at some point I found his story less than legitimate. We began what would become a long series of phone conversations that I recorded on audio tape, with Paul on the east coast of the U.S. and me on the west coast of Canada.
But it wasn't as simple as turning on my recorder and letting him talk. I discovered that Paul is a humble, sincere, honest guy - so to him his life is simply his life, and the Yankees stuff is what happened when he worked there. He had some important issues that he wanted to cover, but other than that he wasn't sure what the public might want to know about, other than obvious insider things, the secrets. He was prepared to consider my suggestions about content and my sense about how much detail would make the story worth telling.
I asked him a lot of questions and listened carefully to his answers. He answered every question I asked him, no topic was off-limits, although some were much more sensitive than others. It wasn't long before I realized it was an intriguing story, involving much more than merely the sport of baseball. What amazed me about Paul was his seemingly-photographic memory, he said it was like going back in time and watching the action re-occur as a detailed re-play in his mind.
As we talked, I was always conscious of testing Paul's recollection for accuracy, although I never mentioned it. So my questioning didn't follow any particular order. As time went on I bounced around chronologically, asking new questions as well as going back to something that he'd told me weeks or months earlier, this time from a different angle or context.
He always displayed complete consistency with what he'd told me previously. Often I'd try again, asking him about a particular subject several months later in another context - and again, consistency. There was no way he could possibly be referring to notes, so it had to be his memory. It was dependably reliable.
The more I tested him, the more I realized that Paul not only has accurate recall, he also can't tell a lie. He has a compulsion to tell the truth, no matter what. That's who he is. He's also a good observer. When he looks at a scene or a situation, he takes it all in, noting details.
I learned that one way to get him particularly focused was to remind him of a scenario that he'd mentioned previously only briefly and ask him to expand on it, to see where he'd go with it. I encouraged him to remember everything he could about it until he was done, and he rarely ran out of things to say. I filled a lot of tapes getting his story.
He also had audio tapes of his own that he'd secretly made while he worked for the Yankees, for proof, to support his story. He said working at Yankee Stadium under George Steinbrenner had been eye-opening, bizarre, and ultimately disturbing, and he thought that one day he'd like to write a book about it and figured that he'd need evidence to back up his story. He offered to let me hear the tapes and see the written transcripts of them. Those were solid verification that what he was telling me was indeed true.
Shortly after we began our interview taping sessions, he shipped me a huge box of hundreds of documents, thousands of pages. Initially I went through enough of them to be impressed, and eventually I read everything. It was a lot of research, both on his part to gather them, and for me to go through them so I could understand them, then select appropriate excerpts to include in the book. I also did a lot of investigation via the internet, carefully cross-checking facts and various information. I wanted to create a strong, thoroughly researched work that could stand up to the utmost scrutiny.
Since I didn't follow a chronology in my questioning of Paul, putting all the material together into a book was a considerable feat. It was like assembling a massive jigsaw puzzle. Eventually it came together and I'm pleased with the results. What began with the framework of a baseball-related story ended up becoming something more substantial, encompassing a number of issues that readers everywhere should find interesting and hopefully relevant.
Over time I realized that Paul is one of the most honest, uncomplicated, straight-forward people I've ever dealt with. He has remarkable resilience and persistence which enable him to overcome major hurdles and complex obstacles. For someone with not a lot of formal schooling, he's literally become self-educated in the school of hard knocks. He's learned what he has to do in order to focus and survive. And he has a quality that's becoming rare in today's world - integrity.
This book is Paul's story, written as a first-person narrative in a conversational style, similar to the way he told it to me. I've taken a liberty with punctuation - since a lot of the content is Paul recalling what happened and what was said, most of those spoken parts follow a colon: they'll be self-apparent. Things in "double quotes" are direct quotes from documents or individuals. Once you begin reading, these should become obvious. There's a cadence to the story, and the italicized words add intensity.
At the end are the results of Paul's lie-detector test - or as we call it, his truth test. It should satisfy critics that Paul is indeed telling the truth.
An explanation of the title: Paul was abused by several people at the Yankees organization. He was verbally abused by homophobes, physically abused by a particular player, sexually abused by three players, and morally abused by management who intentionally falsely accused him of grand theft with no evidence since he was innocent.
Are you ready for the truth?
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