Exclusive: Kansas City Royals' Steve Physioc on his hit book "The Walls of Lucca" & more
An Emmy-winning radio and television broadcaster, Steve Physioc is well-known for his broadcast work with both the Kansas City Royals and Big East College Basketball. Yet the Fox Sports favourite has also found success in recent years as an author, finding both critical and commercial success with 2018's The Walls of Lucca and 2019's followup effort Above The Walls.
While visiting Kansas City, Missouri, I had the pleasure touring Kauffman Stadium, home of the earlier-mentioned Kansas City Royals. In the midst of my tour, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Steve Physioc less than a half-hour before the first pitch of the August 17th game against the New York Mets. To put it simply, the man known to locals as "The Phiz" was nothing short of warm, courteous and inspiring.
On how he became a Kansas City sports fan despite being born in New Jersey:
Steve Physioc: Well actually I only lived my first five years in New Jersey. I was born in Morristown and my dad had some financial difficulties, so we came out to Kansas, where my grandparents lived, and moved into their house. There were five kids in one room 'till my dad got work, so I was raised here...
I went to Kansas State and that's where I found out what my passion was going to be: broadcasting. I was not a very good athlete but I loved talking about sports, so I did a football game, fell in love with the play-by-play. Things just took off from there.
On becoming a successful author of a non-sports-related book:
Steve Physioc: I've always been a reader. That's what I did on the road, I read classics. I wouldn't necessarily read sportsbooks, I would read books about history. Interestingly enough, in 2006, my wife and I were touring Italy and as fate would have it, I have a dream about a great wall in a city. Instead of going back to sleep, I wrote an outline of my dream, went back to sleep. The next morning my wife and I drove around Italy, we did some touring of Venice and Florence, etc.
A week later we joined my friends in this town called Luca. We were driving around and I said, "Oh my gosh, [wife] Stace, this it. This was the city in my dream." So now I'm interested, I purchased the book, read about the history and it was fascinating. I felt compelled to write it. So I wrote it, and it's about two families trying to produce a great Sangiovese wine in Italy's dark days in World War I in the rise of fascism.
I was absolutely shocked when it started pretty well and the reviews were positive about it... We won the Reader Views' "Best Historical Fiction of 2018" with The Walls Of Lucca... It's been on the market for about 17 months and we've sold over 100,000 copies. That's been good.
On whether there is a followup book in the works:
Steve Physioc: I'm continuing to write. Now I'm writing my next novel, which is going to be a sequel but more current. It does have to do with baseball, but it is a fictional story.
On why he calls Kansas City home these days after working in a variety of cities:
Steve Physioc: I went from Hastings, Nebraska to Topeka, Kansas to Cincinnati, Ohio to San Francisco to L.A. to back home. So it's really an opportunity... "Do you want to take it?" I was very fortunate to be married to a wonderful woman who didn't feel like she had to stay in one place. She looked it at it like I did, like it was an adventure. So an adventure in San Francisco, an adventure in Southern California, so we spent 26 years in California and then were given the opportunity to come back here in 2012. I came back with my friend Rex [Hudler], who I worked with for the [Los Angeles] Angels. We just love it back here.
On his favourite food at Kauffman Stadium:
Steve Physioc: I know your answer wants it to be a barbecue, but I'm married to a health and nutrition consultant, so my wife is vegan. I like a little bit of everything. I like a little bit of barbecue. Here in the ballpark, they feed us upstairs, and if I don't like the food, I always have a salad. So I can always do well, that's my go-to, a salad.
On his last words for the kids:
Steve Physioc: Just whatever you're passionate about, just go for it. My mom told me the two most important decisions I would make in my life are who you are going to marry, and what you're going to do for the rest of your life. I've hit grand slams on both. I love play-by-play, I've done it for 44 years, still love it. And I'm in love with the woman I've been married to for 35 years, and she's the best friend I've ever had... S o I made two really good decisions in those areas.