JOHN UNDERWOOD'S BOOK "IT'S ONLY ME" IS A HEART-TUGGER OF REMINISCENSES

After reading John Underwood's latest book, "It's Only Me", I knew that his subject, the late Ted Williams, found his same aw-shucks humility in his author. The baseball giant and John you would call hugging buddies. The title tells what the sometimes (but certainly not always) self-effacing Ted would say each time he called John on the telephone. A CD accompanies the warm and insightful reminiscences.

A fellow University of Miami grad, Lory Snipes, read the book with "pride, personal and professional." They were friends at the UM where Lory worked on student publications. Lory was editor of the IBIS yearbook, which won one of five national awards. John was an English major, and from his sophomore year a full-time sports writer at The Miami Herald.
John later switched to the City Desk, writing on everything from space shots and murders at sea to playing golf with Billy Graham, then moved on to Time, Inc.,where he earned iconic status at Sports Illustrated not only for his can't-put-down-till-finished articles but, in time, as the first SI writer allowed to live outside the teeming New Yawk canyons.
He chose Miami, of course, where he added book-writing to his work load. He has now completed, ten, three of them best sellers ."Signing books and trying to be suave about it," John admits, "is a tough assignment." He got a big play in Boston when "It's Only Me" came out earlier this year (2005) being photographed at Fenway Park.
George Will, the columnist, called the book "splendid," and author Peter Golenbok wrote the publisher to say it should be "passed along to the Pulitzer committee." John says he is flattered by the praise, "but mainly I was pleased for the chance to present a side of an American hero that people might have missed, and with whom I accumulated so many great memories."
At the University of Miami one remembers him as being anything but a boisterous, ego-bent chronicler of scores and stats. but John was never reluctant to take a stand. His pieces for SI were often characterized by that trait and led to two books, "The Death of An American Game" and "Spoiled Sport," that illuminated many of sport's flaws and failures.

Over time, John moved out of sports and won awards for pieces that appeared in such publications as Florida Trend, The New York Times, Reader's Digest, Life magazine, and The Miami Herald. One of his most admirable qualities is his stand-up, tell-it-like-it-is personal writing, his valor in enunciating the descent of old-fashioned do-right behavior that runs counter to Big Media's shepherding of the left.
But, he says, "the source of my greatest pride is my family." He has six children -- Caroline and Josh who finished college and four (Lori Underwood Gagne, DeeDee Underwood Justice, Leslie Underwood Cahill and John, Jr.) graduated and married "and spread out geographically from here to Port St. Lucie to the Atlanta area, so we don't get together as a group as often as I'd like, but I have the modern advantages of e-mailed pictures and the cell phone to keep me current."

John says his travels for Time, Inc. (including seven trips to Africa and assignments in Australia, China, Japan, much of Latin America and all across Europe) gave him a wanderlust that just won't quit. He accompanied his wife Donna, an accomplished water colorist who taught art to middle and high school students at Westminster Christian School, and who did an "artist's study" of China. The two of them have written a book together.
Donna Underwood