Hoping to use Boston’s Great Fenway Park Writers Series as a template, two old Washington hands have launched the Greater Washington Writers Series.
George Mitrovich, chairman of the Fenway series and once a press aide to the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, D-N.Y.; and Billy Tranghese, press secretary for Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., helped usher in the new series last week.
Rob Miech, author of the book “Phenom: The Making of Bryce Harper,” headlined the May 9 event at the University Club. The book, which follows the Washington Nationals’ superstar outfielder during his junior college season with the College of Southern Nevada, was recently released in paperback. The original hardcover, “The Last Natural: Bryce Harper’s Big Gamble in Sin City and the Greatest Amateur Season Ever,” came out in May 2012, just as Harper was making his debut with the Nats. The paperback contains an update on Harper’s breakout pro season.
In 2010, Harper earned his GED diploma and went to the College of Southern Nevada, part of a junior college conference that used wood bats, in an effort to show Major League Baseball scouts he was the real deal, even at age 17. It paid off. Harper became the No. 1 draft pick of the Nationals that year and vaulted into the upper echelons of the game.
Miech was there for every at-bat, thanks to a stroke of coincidence.
“I’ll be eternally grateful to the Las Vegas Sun for laying me off in December 2009,” Miech said. That turn of events led him to pitch freelance stories, one of which put him on the trail of Harper. Sensing that Harper’s story was special, he approached the CSN baseball coach, Tim Chambers, about the possibility of embedding with the team and chronicling the season.
“I’m really honored to be here as the debut writer for this series,” Miech said. The University Club setting was casual, with Miech detailing the story of the book, as well as his own, and answering questions from the audience of about 40 people or so, many of whom sported thick Boston accents.
“If we go forward, we will do more than sports,” Mitrovich said. He has experience in such things, being the president of two public forums — The City Club of San Diego and The Denver Forum — as well as chairman of the Fenway series.
“We are going to continue it,” Tranghese said, adding that they want to be creative not just in the topics pursued, but also the places they go. “We want to be creative in the venues. ... In Boston, they typically do it in Fenway or the Hotel Commonwealth,” which is in the neighborhood.
With all the construction near Nationals Park, there should be no shortage of places.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.