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Tall Tales

Feb. 06, 2006
Feb. 06, 2006

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Feb. 6, 2006

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Tall Tales

Edited by Mark Bechtel

Don't tell Oprah,but James Frey (A Million Little Pieces) isn't the first author to play fastand loose with the facts in a memoir. Here are a few from the sports world whohave put the fiction into nonfiction.

This is an article from the Feb. 6, 2006 issue Original Layout

Jose Canseco,Juiced (2005).
The story: Canseco named names, writing that he "often" injected MarkMcGwire with steroids and that he talked with Bret Boone at second base aboutthe juice after Canseco doubled in a 2001 spring training game. He also toldtales of a mammoth homer off Walt Terrell at Tiger Stadium as a rookie and astrikeout in Game 6 of the 2000 World Series.
The real story: Canseco never doubled against Boone's Mariners that spring, hedidn't homer off Terrell--or anyone--in Detroit as a rookie and the 2000 WorldSeries only went five games. When pressed on 60 Minutes about McGwire, Cansecobacktracked, saying he injected Mac "once or twice."

David Wells,Perfect I'm Not (2003).
The story: Threw a 1998 perfect game while "half-drunk" from a SaturdayNight Live wrap party the night before.
The real story: After David Cone, who was with him on the night in question,said Wells "maybe had a few drinks," Wells fessed up: "I wasn'tdrunk. I took some aspirin and had a headache the next day."

Shaquille O'Neal,Shaq Talks Back (2001).
The story: The Big Aristotle claimed he came up with the idea for the Taco BellChihuahua.
The real story: A federal jury ruled that two Michigan men (who sued Taco Bell)pitched the pup.

Wilt Chamberlain,A View from Above (1991).
The story: Wilt said he'd shagged 20,000 women.
The real story: After Chamberlain's death, his lawyer, presaging Frey on Oprahlast Thursday, said that his client had exaggerated and "was trying to saythat it was better to be with one woman 1,000 times than to be with 1,000 womenone time."

Charles Barkley,Outrageous (1991).
The story: The author had unkind words for several teammates.
The real story: Barkley swore they weren't his. Said teammate Hersey Hawkins,"I don't know how you can be misquoted in your own autobiography."

Pete Rose, MyStory (1989).
The story: Page 238: "I never bet on baseball. Never."
The real story: My Prison Without Bars (2004), page 316: "Yes sir, I didbet on baseball."

Larry King, WhenYou're from Brooklyn, Everything Else Is Tokyo (1992).
The story: A long one, involving a car trip to New Haven with Sandy Koufax insearch of cheap ice cream when they were teens in Brooklyn.
The real story: When Koufax said he didn't know King from the neighborhood andhad never in his life been to New Haven, King responded, "What makesSandy's memory perfect?" Then he conceded, "I'm embarrassed."

PHOTORAY STUBBLEBINE/REUTERS (WELLS ACTION)PHOTOMARK TERRILL/AP (OPRAH)TWO PHOTOSHARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS (PERFECT I'M NOT; JUICED)PHOTOTACO BELL/AP (CHIHUAHUA)PHOTOSIMON & SCHUSTER (OUTRAGEOUS)PHOTOROSE M. PROUSER/CNN/AP (KING)