From legendary swimmer and swimming coach George Haines to the showmanship of the Santa Clara Aquamaids, and from former baseball pitcher Mark Langston to well-known city politicians, Mayor Jamie Matthews and Council Member Patricia Mahan, Santa Clara is a small city full of locals who have found national and international success. Thanks to the efforts of Clarence Robert Tower and Ken Lichtenstein, many of the city’s famous individuals are now profiled in a new book, “Legendary Locals of Santa Clara.”
The idea for the book came after Arcadia Publishing kept reaching out to author and Lichtenstein’s late wife, Bea (featured in Legendary Locals), about her next publication. When Lichtenstein informed Arcadia of Bea’s death, they asked if he knew of anyone else who would be willing to write a book. He innocently volunteered himself, thinking it would be an easy project.
“It took me about two days to figure out that I was in real deep trouble,” said Lichtenstein. “So I started looking around for somebody to co-author with me and I found Bob. It was the best thing I ever did, next to marrying my wife.”
The pair, who said it took a year to complete the book, set out to find Santa Clarans who had made their mark, and Santa Clara organizations that were recognizable. “The selection of people … came from the Santa Clara Unified District Hall of Fame records,” said Tower. “If they made it to the Hall of Fame, they made it into the book.”
Throughout a brief book talk and signing at Studio-Bongiorno on May 10, Tower shared information about some of the locals and explained how Photoshop helped bring the book to life, while Lichtenstein disclosed stories about the challenges and successes they had reaching out to the locals.
While some were easy to track down, others took a bit of work to reach, said Lichtenstein, one of which was Mark Langston, who pitched for the Seattle Mariners, Montreal Expos, California and Anaheim Angels, San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians over throughout his 16-year career. And, although Lichtenstein coached little league when Langston’s father umpired, reaching the current color commentator for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim wasn’t so simple.
“I called him [Langston’s father] up and I said, ‘look I’ve got some information on Mark, can you give me his email address,'” said Lichtenstein. “And he said, ‘send it to me.’ I said, ‘yeah, but I want to send it to Mark.’ And he said, ‘if I read it and I like it, it goes to Mark; if I don’t, goodbye.’ So I said, ‘OK,’ and I sent it to him.” After not hearing anything for weeks, Lichtenstein followed up and got approval to run the article. “Then I said, ‘well I’d really like a picture to use in the article. He [Mark’s father] said he had a picture of him the day he pitched in the All-Star Game and asked if I would like it. And, that’s the picture we used on the cover and also in the book.”
Tower and Lichtenstein will sign copies of “Legendary Locals of Santa Clara” on Thursday, May 15 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in room 232 of the Santa Clara Senior Center, 1303 Fremont St. (at Monroe). Books can be purchased at the signing, or by visiting www.arcadiapublishing.com/9781467101219/Legendary-Locals-of-Santa-Clara.