Jim Dent gained an appreciation for the history of the Highland Park football program while he was a student journalist at SMU during the 1970s.
Four decades later, the acclaimed author is ready to begin work on Doak and Bobby, a nonfiction book chronicling the legacy of the Scots on the gridiron.
Dent revealed details for the project on Thursday at Highland Park Middle School, during an event sponsored by the Raider Families Read Book Club and the HPMS Dads Club.
He will write the book this year with Park Cities People co-founder Kirk Dooley, with plans to have it published around the start of the 2014 season. He is currently looking for an investor to help with publishing costs, and hopes to use a portion of the proceeds to benefit HPISD and the football program.
“I want Doak and Bobby to be read by every student in this school district,” Dent said. “We want to put it in the students’ hands free of charge.”
It will be the first collaboration for Dent, whose 10 nonfiction sports books have included The Junction Boys and Twelve Mighty Orphans.
The title refers to Doak Walker and Bobby Layne, both football legends who played together at HP during the 1940s and later in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. Both are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I bet a lot of young people here don’t know that much about Doak Walker and Bobby Layne,” Dent said. “These are two of the most interesting characters in the history of sports.”
Although their story will be a primary focus in the book, Dent said he also will trace a broader history of the program as far back as 1923.
Dent also shared stories of his other books with the HP crowd on Thursday, such as his breakthrough with The Junction Boys, which made the New York Times bestseller list just seven weeks after it was published, and later was adapted into a television movie in 2002.
He also talked about Twelve Mighty Orphans, the underdog story of the Masonic Home Orphanage team from Fort Worth during the Great Depression. The coach of that team was Rusty Russell, who later became the coach at Highland Park.
Dent also had a message about the importance of literature for several students in the audience.
“I think reading is important regardless of your age. It’s theater of the mind,” Dent said. “There’s nothing in the world better than reading a book.”