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American Huckster: How Chuck Blazer Got Rich From-and Sold Out-the Most Powerful Cabal in World Sportsby Teri Thompson Mary Papenfuss
The first inside account of the international soccer scandal that rocked the world and the American at its center--the incredible story of how a stay-at-home New York soccer dad illegally made millions off the world's most powerful and corrupt sports organization and became an unlikely FBI whistleblower.He was the middle-class Jewish kid from Queens who rose from local youth soccer leagues to the heights of FIFA, becoming a larger-than-life, jet-setting buccaneer--and the most notorious FBI informant in sports history. For years, Chuck Blazer skimmed over $20 million from FIFA, stashing his money in offshore accounts and real estate holdings that included a luxury apartment in Trump Tower, a South Beach condo, and a hideaway in the Bahamas. Instantly recognizable with his unruly mass of salt-and-pepper hair and matching beard--and a rotating crop of arm candy--Blazer was one of the most flamboyant figures in the glitzy social and political circles of international soccer. Over the course of thirty years, Blazer leveraged his friendships with the likes of Vladimir Putin, Hillary Clinton and Nelson Mandela, to increase his influence with the mandarins of global soccer--most notably Sepp Blatter, FIFA's long-time godfather.Once Blatter tapped Blazer to be the first American in almost fifty years to sit on FIFA's executive committee, the erstwhile accountant steadily accumulated money and power--until 2013 when the FBI and IRS nabbed Blazer and charged him with fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion. In exchange for immunity, Blazer agreed to let the Feds install a microphone in his keychain to entrap his larcenous band of brothers--leading to the shocking arrest and indictment of eighteen FIFA officials for racketeering and bribery.In this taut and suspenseful tale of white-collar crime and betrayal at the highest levels of international business, investigative reporters Mary Papenfuss and Teri Thompson draw on sources in U.S. law enforcement as well as in Blazer's inner circle to tell the surreal tale of this astonishing character and the scandal that rocked the world.
It was an epic downfall. In twenty-four seasons pitcher Roger Clemens put together one of the greatest careers baseball has ever seen. Seven Cy Young Awards, two World Series championships, and 354 victories made him a lock for the Hall of Fame. But on December 13, 2007, the Mitchell Report laid waste to all that. Accusations that Clemens relied on steroids and human growth hormone provided and administered by his former trainer, Brian McNamee, have put Clemens in the crosshairs of a Justice Department investigation. Why did this happen? How did it happen? Who made the decisions that altered some lives and ruined others? How did a devastating culture of drugs, lies, sex, and cheating fester and grow throughout Major League Baseball's clubhouses? The answers are in these extraordinary pages. American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens and the Rise of Steroids in America's Pastime is about much more than the downfall of a superstar. While the fascinating portrait of Clemens is certainly at the center of the action, the book takes us outside the white lines and inside the lives and dealings of sports executives, trainers, congressmen, lawyers, drug dealers, groupies, a porn star, and even a murderer-- all of whom have ties to this saga. Four superb investigative journalists have spent years uncovering the truth, and at the heart of their investigation is a behind-the-scenes portrait of the maneuvering and strategies in the legal war between Clemens and his accuser, McNamee. This compelling story is the strongest examination yet of the rise of illegal drugs in America's favorite sport, the gym-rat culture in Texas that has played such an important role in spreading those drugs, and the way Congress has dealt with the entire issue. Andy Pettitte, Jose Canseco, Alex Rodriguez, and Chuck Knoblauch are just a few of the other players whose moving and sometimes disturbing stories are illuminated here as well. The New York Daily News Sports Investigative Team has written the definitive book on corruption and the steroids era in Major League Baseball. In doing so, they have managed to dig beneath the disillusion and disappointment to give us a stirring look at heroes who all too often live unheroic shadow lives.
Since its limited release just after the turn of the twentieth century, this American Tobacco cigarette card has beguiled and bedeviled collectors. First identified as valuable in the 1930s, when the whole notion of card collecting was still young, the T206 Wagner has remained the big score for collectors who have scoured card shows, flea markets, estate sales, and auctions for the portrait of baseball's greatest shortstop. Only a few dozen T206 Wagners are known to still exist. Most, with their creases, stains, and dog-eared corners, look worn and tattered, like they've been around for almost a century. But one-The Card-appears to have defied the travails of time. Thanks to its sharp corners and its crisp portrait of Honus Wagner, The Card has become the most famous and desired baseball card in the world. Over the decades, as The Card has changed hands, its value has skyrocketed. It was initially sold for $25,000 by a small card shop in a nondescript strip mall. Years later, hockey great Wayne Gretzky bought it at the venerable Sotheby's auction house for $451,000. Then, more recently, it sold for $1.27 million on eBay. Today worth over $2 million, it has transformed a sleepy hobby into a billion-dollar industry that is at times as lawless as the Wild West. The Card has made men wealthy, certainly, but it has also poisoned lifelong friendships and is fraught with controversy-from its uncertain origins and the persistent questions about its provenance to the possibility that it is not exactly as it seems. Now for the first time, award-winning investigative reporters Michael O'Keeffe and Teri Thompson follow the trail of The Card from a Florida flea market to the hands of the world's most prominent collectors. They delve into a world of counterfeiters and con men and look at the people who profit from what used to be a kids' pastime, as they bring to light ongoing investigations into sports collectibles. O'Keeffe and Thompson also examine the life of the great Honus Wagner, a ballplayer whose accomplishments have been eclipsed by his trading card, and the strange and fascinating subculture of sports memorabilia and its astonishing decline. Intriguing and eye-opening, The Card is a ground-breaking look at a uniquely American hobby.
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