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Josh Suchon and Joe Haakenson have both published books about Major League Baseball teams. Josh Suchon and Joe Haakenson have both published books about Major League Baseball teams.
 


Double Play

Careers coincide for two Aztec authors.
By Tobin Vaughn
 

Josh Suchon (’96) and Joe Haakenson (’85) have a lot in common.  Both grew up loving baseball, both have journalism degrees from SDSU and both have spent many years of their professional careers as sportswriters covering Major League Baseball in Southern California.

Now both are releasing new baseball books from the same publisher timed to coincide with the start of baseball season.  Each book springs from its author’s experience covering a team: Suchon the Dodgers and Haakenson the Angels.

Haakenson’s "100 Things Angels Fans Must Know and Do Before They Die" is set for release on April 1, Major League Baseball’s opening day.  It’s part of the “100 Things” series and draws heavily from stories Haakenson wrote over 15 years as an Angels beat writer.

"It's not just about baseball, it's about the business of baseball and the characters involved,” he explains. "It's also for baseball fans who like all the things that go on off the field.  Basically, it's 100 short stories on personalities or individual instances."  

One story Haakenson tells is about how actor Charlie Sheen once bought an entire section of seats in the left field of Anaheim Stadium so he could catch a home run ball. “Then, of course, he didn't get one," the author says.

The book is Haakenson’s second.  He also wrote “Out of the Blue: The Story of the Anaheim Angels' Improbable Run to the 2002 World Series Title.”

“Miracle Men”

The book Suchon will release in May, "Miracle Men: Gibson, Hershiser and the Improbable 1988 Dodgers,” is his second as well.  He also wrote “This Gracious Season,” the inside story of Barry Bonds' record-setting, 73-homer season in 2001.   

In “Miracle Men,” Suchon says he’s filling in the gaps of a great Dodgers season that may have been overshadowed by Orel Hirshiser’s incredible pitching and Kirk Gibson’s unforgettable World Series Game 1 home run.

“There was a whole lot more that happened that year that's been forgotten because, number one, it's been 25 years and number two, those other two things were so powerful, people forgot all the other stuff,” Suchon says.

Suchon, now a Los Angeles resident, grew up an Oakland As fan in Pleasanton.  Haakenson, who lives in Huntington Beach, was a Covina kid who adored the Dodgers.  

Daily Aztec Days

At SDSU, both wound up sports reporting for The Daily Aztec.  Suchon, who was the paper’s editor-in-chief, says working for the student paper was, “without question, the best decision” of his life.

"I had unbelievable real life experiences on a day-to-day basis,” he remembers. “It taught me what I love about journalism and what I hate about journalism.

“What I learned in the classroom was helpful, but what I learned at The Daily Aztec was way, way more helpful.  I really don't know how I could have launched my career if I hadn't worked at The Daily Aztec.”

Haakenson only worked at the campus paper for a year covering SDSU’s “less glamorous” sports.  He remembers a highlight of his college experience was being sent by his sports editor to Albuquerque to report on the Aztecs in the Western Athletic Conference track and field championships.

In the paper

Three months after graduation, he moved back to his hometown and landed a part-time job working for a West Covina paper.  The first full-time position to open up there was for an entertainment reporter, so he took it.

"The first thing I ever covered for them was a dinner theater play and I had no idea what I was doing,” Haakenson recalls.  “My boss at the time said, 'Take a date and go watch the show and take notes, write about it and don't worry about it.  

“It's funny, I remember it was 'George M' about George M. Cohan, the composer.  I can't remember feeling good about what I wrote, but it was in the paper and I felt good about having it in the paper.”

Haakenson’s last full-time newspaper job was as sports editor of the Long Beach Press-Telegram.  He is now a freelance reporter and writer who also was one of the select few journalists to vote last year for the American League Most Valuable Player award.

Dual promotion

These days, Suchon, too, is a freelancer.  A former co-host of radio’s “Post Game Dodger Talk,” he prefers broadcast journalism to print and aspires to being a full-time play-by-play announcer for a Major League team.

Suchon and Haakenson crossed paths several times through the years with each unaware of the other’s SDSU background.  

"When I first met Joe, I didn't even know he was an Aztec until a couple of years ago,” says Suchon, “so I think it's awesome that we've both got books that are out.”

"It's random that we figured out we're both doing a book for the same publisher and that they're both coming out about the same time,” Haakenson observes. “It's kind of cool.

"I certainly respect and admire Josh's abilities as a writer."

Both authors are now engaged in promoting their books.  They say they’re working on some joint appearances for book signings.     

“It's really cool to be able to share that with another Aztec," says Suchon. "I hope we both do great and I'm really excited for Joe.  He's a really good dude.  That's what you'd expect from another Aztec, right?"

Joe Haakenson’s "100 Things Angels Fans Must Know and Do Before They Die" and Josh Suchon’s "Miracle Men: Gibson, Hershiser and the Improbable 1988 Dodgers” are now available at www.triumphbooks.com

Addendum: 

After publishing this story, it was brought to our attention that there is actually a third alumnus and former The Daily Aztec sports writer who has published a book about Major League Baseball this year. Rob Miech, '87, is the author of The Last Natural, about the 2010 season that baseball phenom Bryce Harper spent at a Las Vegas-area junior college, which launched him to further fame and fortune when he was picked No. 1 in the '10 draft.

"I spent three years on The Daily Aztec staff as a sports writer. NO WAY I would be doing what I'm doing without that start at the SDSU paper," Miech said.