A Lancaster boy is now a New York living man on his way to succeeding in the literary world. Manheim Township elder Dan Good is also a husband and father who has spent most of his journalism career working in the Empire State since graduating from Millersville University in 2006. .
And now he is writing his first book. Well, that’s not technically true. Since 2019, Good has written a dozen books. And the latest book with Good’s name on the front, he says, “is part of a series of company profiles put together over four months.”
But Good’s latest project is his own, a 10-year effort with countless hours of research and over 400 interviews. And the topic should be familiar to baseball fans and many other sports fans.
“Playing Through Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroid Confession That Changed Baseball Forever.”
Caminiti, MLB’s 1996 National League Most Valuable Player, died in 2004 after heavy drug use. He was also the first professional player to pull the curtain back on steroids in baseball.
But it’s not just another story of baseball on steroids. It’s a complex and heartbreaking book about a man who was loved by most of his teammates, who repeatedly tried and failed in his battle with drug addiction, which may have been spurred on by childhood trauma, while clutching his teeth due to several injuries. staying on the pitch throughout a successful 15-year professional career.
Good now works full-time as a manuscript development manager for Book Launchers, a New York-based publishing house. He will be in Lancaster County for a signing of “Playing Through The Pain” at the Barnes & Nobles bookstore just outside the city of Lancaster on Fruitville Pike on August 21.
Here’s a recent Q&A with Good conducted by LNP | Lancaster Online. This has been edited for length and clarity.
Did you always want to work in New York or did it just happen?
“It just happened, I had been into journalism since my freshman year of high school. … I wanted to move people with my words. I worked in television at FOX43 and WGAL for about two years. I got to a point in 2008 where I realized I wanted to do more in-depth work and more in-depth reporting. …I saw a job as a feature editor at The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey. down to the beach and decided to apply. I got hired. …In 2011 I felt it was time to look bigger. New York spoke to me. My wife is from Yonkers. It helped give me a sense of connection. I was hired by the New York Post as a homepage (website) editor.
When did a book about Ken Caminiti come to mind?
“He came out (about steroids) in Sports Illustrated in 2002 and then in 2004 he died. … I was really moved by it. It stuck with me over the years. ‘m still waiting for someone else to write this book. No one ever has. Working as the front page editor of the New York Post, I haven’t had the opportunity to do my evidence and to tell my stories. So, separated from the newsroom, I had all this free time to do something special and close to my heart.
So you started the research for the book in 2012 and started the interviews in 2013. What is the work behind the scenes to bring this book to fruition over the next decade?
“I had interviewed the majority of the subjects from 2014 to 2016, and filled in the gaps from there. I had written a little but didn’t commit to it until I had an agent and editor lined up, which came in 2020. By then I had written about 20,000 words to map things out.
What would you say to people who might think this is just another book about the steroid era in baseball?
“A lot of people have reinforced their feelings about steroids in baseball and even about Ken. It is important that people have an open mind. Ken’s life was more complicated. … there are a lot of layers for him, complexity for him. It is important to approach one’s life with sympathy and compassion because it has not been done. …there are so many complexities about steroids in baseball in general. … We know the big names attached to steroids. …but what about relief pitchers or fourth outfielders. It’s hard to choose one over the other. It’s hard to look back and try to analyze blame. It’s a difficult thing.
You wrote about a topic that is no longer alive. What challenges does this pose when creating a book?
“It’s really difficult. On top of that, even when quoted, he wasn’t always honest. You go back to Tom Verducci’s article IF he gives these half truths about driving in Mexico for steroids. But he didn’t go to Mexico alone. … he would have had a hard time going to Mexico alone and getting the good stuff. It’s not feasible. I would go back to articles from 1997, 1998, one where he talked about getting drunk in the hospital as a high school student. I went back and found everyone I could talk to from then on and couldn’t find anything about it. I wish I could call him up and just ask him, “Did this really happen?” In the same way, I think not having him here compelled me to dig deeper and find people to talk about areas of his life that I otherwise wouldn’t have found. Because of that, it’s a more complete book in the end.
How many games did you look back on while making this book?
“That was one of the coolest things about this project. I go back and watch 1996 Padres or Ken’s Astos. The Astros put out a video in 1990, a team video with some awesome plays from Ken I would take a video of the highlights from those plays and link it to some newspaper accounts.One of the frustrating parts is that MLB doesn’t have the full video of Ken’s first game….but a lot of games are available on Youtube Sometimes people upload a game before it gets deleted after about a year Sometimes MLB will put stuff up Some playoff games are over Years ago I bought a DVD from a website that sold baseball videos and I bought videos from MLB.com.
You interviewed over 400 people for the book. I was blown away by the amount of candor expressed by some of these people.
“Me too. There was a group of people who decided to talk to me out of respect for Ken. They wanted his story to be told accurately and related to his story. There were so many people that I reached out. hand and I said, “No”. Some were moved by it. They respected what I was doing, but they couldn’t speak. Others accused me of trying to burn the guy. …Ken is a sympathetic figure, which makes things even sadder. It was hard to get some people to open up. There are so many people who, all these years later, carry these feelings of sadness and regret wishing to be able to talk about him.
Would you like to share behind-the-scenes dealings in your attempts to get the Caminiti family talking?
“I was hoping we would have something to do. Nancy (Caminiti’s wife) is a private person. Her death certainly impacted her family in many ways. Her parents are aging. I contacted them in 2012 … I understand the reasons for not speaking for the book. I respect it. It’s a delicate balance. It’s obviously a celebrity. But as far as they’re concerned, they’re private people living their lives and happen to be related to a famous person. That was a hard thing to balance for me as a writer, how can I do it right without getting involved with them?
How difficult was it for you personally to maintain your sanity while being immersed in the depths of such a sensitive topic?
“It’s not easy. I’m still struggling with it and coming to terms with it. When I finished the first draft, I was an emotional wreck. … There are still parts of the book that I don’t. I’m not ready to face. … It’s hard to walk away from it when you’re connected to a story like this. As a journalist, you’re supposed to maintain that balance in your storytelling. But you can’t help it. to encourage these people…. I admit that I put off writing the end of the story – Ken’s death – I put it off for 10 years.
Have you ever thought what Caminiti would think of this book if he was still alive?
“I thought about that a lot. I hope he would be grateful. I know in 2003 he sat down with Dan Patrick to write a book about himself. He wanted his story to be told and told correctly. This is one of the things that pushed me to publish it. …with any project, you come to a point of, ‘Can I go on? Can I remove this?’ For me, it was important to tell his story because people could learn from it.
This is a book baseball fans will likely enjoy. But it’s also a book that could benefit those affected by addiction. Thoughts?
“This guy was the toughest guy in baseball. It was not a problem of tenacity or determination in the fight against addiction. This guy tried to beat his addictions and struggled a lot trying to beat them. It can happen to anyone… … also think about the PTSD element, this struggle to deal with trauma, sometimes we have to address these things. …it taught me to be more considerate of others, we don’t know what people are going through.
You had a section in the book on cheating in professional baseball from the late 1800s until the last cheating scandal with the 2017 World Series champion Astros. Will cheating and baseball always be synonymous?
“There will always be cheating in baseball. You think of Bobby Thomson’s home run in the 1951 World Series that involved stealing signs. …everything you look at can obscure baseball that way. Steroids in baseball were around way back in the 1960s. Greenies were used as early as Hank Aaron and Willie Mays… dirt pitchers use to grab the ball. It is dishonest to consider the era of steroids as worse than all the rest. Sure, the record books have been wiped out, but it’s hard to look down on that whole era when cheating was rampant throughout baseball.
It’s essentially the first book you can call your own. How cool is that?
“I get people I grew up watching now commenting on the book on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. … It’s awesome. I remember standing in front of the railing at Phillies and Orioles games trying to get autographs. My favorite player growing up was Greg Vaughn and I interviewed him for this book. …This book is so different from other books. One of the driving forces in completing this has been ghostwriting for other people and encouraging me to get this book out into the world. It was the universe telling me to do it myself. It’s different. It’s nice to close the loop.