If you read only one book this summer by a Chicago-based sports accountant, make it Thanks for Your Trust (Bonus Books, $24.95), the new beach staple by Harvey S. Wineberg, Bean Counter to the Almost Famous. Just one of the scores of sports books cranked out each year by a publishing industry eager to help sports fans dispose of some of that disposable income, but one impossible to ignore, this is that rare publishing phenomenon in which the dust-jacket blurbs, though breathless, are not nearly effusive enough. "After 30 years," burbles Bobby Hull, the Hockey Hall of Famer who is Wineberg's one bona fide star client, "Wineberg & Lewis, P.C., Wineberg is not one to itemize and tell. If you want to still handle my tax work!" We have added the exclamation point, but then, we think Hull must have said it that way.
After all, how can one not enthuse about a book that name-drops so deliciously? Wineberg has been the double-entry bookkeeper to some of sports' most semi well known figures, men who were once vaguely recognizable in certain parts of Chicago, including ex-Bulls guard John Mengelt and former White Sox third baseman Bill Melton. Naturally, the routine tax concerns of such not-quite-famous men make for a rollicking good read. Which isn't to make light of the CPA's heartbreak, for there is plenty of that in these 203 pages, too. Of former Cubs manager Herman Franks, Wineberg writes achingly, " Franks ended up getting involved with an accountant in Salt Lake City, Utah." Who among us has not been there? To Salt Lake City, I mean.
On the whole, Trust, as the title implies, betrays few secrets. Wineberg is not one to itemize and tell. If you want to know whether Hinks Shimberg, Sheldon Fink, Dr. Robert Replogle or Bruce Gregga—all Wineberg clients, their names inexplicably splashed on the cover—filed singly or jointly, look elsewhere. However, if you want to feel the CPA's longing, the debits duly entered in the ledger of his love life, then Wineberg is your Whitman. In one terribly poignant passage, he addresses ex- Portland Trail Blazers guard Jim Paxson, who was a near-household name in certain Oregon precincts in the '80s. "He met some financial people out in Los Angeles, who, I believe, took a very conservative approach," writes Wineberg. "Jim wound up using them instead." The heart sinks at that last sentence, for nothing is sadder than unrequited recordkeeping.
Did Paxson and Wineberg patch things up? Did Franks and Wineberg reach a rapprochement? Who in God's name is Bruce Gregga? You'll have to buy the book. Or—cross your fingers—wait for the mf movie.