Books

L.A. sports wouldn’t have been the same without ‘The Steamer’

The Bee’s Andy Furillo wrote a biography of his sports-columnist father Bud Furillo, a.k.a “The Steamer.”
The Bee’s Andy Furillo wrote a biography of his sports-columnist father Bud Furillo, a.k.a “The Steamer.” Courtesy of Santa Monica Press.

Sometimes, nonfiction can read like a novel, brimming with plot, character, humor and inspiration. A case in point is “The Steamer: Bud Furillo and the Golden Age of L.A. Sports,” a vivid biography by his son and Sacramento Bee sports columnist Andy Furillo (Santa Monica Press, $28, 480 pages; with a foreword by Tommy Lasorda).

Bud Furillo covered the raucous Los Angeles sports scene for six decades, capturing the drama that defined it and the characters who personified it, as professional and college teams matured to transform L.A. into one of the world’s major sports centers. Along the journey, he became friends with a roster of legendary figures, including L.A. Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax, Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, Portland Trail Blazers’ center Bill Walton and boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

Though Bud Furillo worked in radio in his later years, perhaps he best defined himself and an era in his column “The Steam Room” in the L.A. Herald Express and the L.A. Herald Examiner (which absorbed the Express) from 1946 to 1974. He was so conjoined to his column that his nickname became “The Steamer.” He had the inside track on Los Angeles sports, covering some of the biggest stories of the day, pushing the envelope with his informed opinions and apologizing to no one.

By the time he died in 2006, he had amassed piles of notes for a book on his life and career. They became the starting point for “The Steamer,” a five-year project by son Andy Furillo.

“As time was going by after he died, what he had done was flickering in the collective sports memory bank of Southern California and he was being forgotten,” Andy Furilllo said. “My dad was too important in such a crucial time in Los Angeles sports history to fade away. His legacy needed to be solidified.”

Andy Furillo will appear at these upcoming book-signings:

5 p.m. Friday, July 8 at Three Mile Brewing Co. (231 G St., Davis); 530-564-4351; www.threemilebrewing.com

5:30 p.m Saturday, July 9 at Torch Club (904 15th St., Sacramento); 916-443-2797; www.torchclub.net

5 p.m. Wednesday, July 13 at Q Street Bar & Grill a.k.a. Benny’s (2013 Q St., Sacramento); 916-443-5555.

7 p.m. Monday, July 18 at Avid Reader at Tower (1600 Broadway, Sacramento); 916-441-4400; www.avidreaderattower.com

5 p.m. Wednesday, July 20 at Blue Prynt Restaurant & Bar (815 11th St., Sacramento); 916-492-2969; www.bluepryntsacramento.com

5 p.m. Friday, July 22 at Limelight Bar & Cafe (1014 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento); 916-446-2236; www.limelightsac.com

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe

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