Between 1948 and '66 Clair Bee, whose .826 winning percentage is the best among college basketball coaches, was better known for writing the Chip Hilton sports series, 23 books detailing the heroic exploits of a quarterbacking-set-shooting-fastballing American boy. The books sold 2.2 million copies, but sales slipped in the mid-'60s, and Bee never published a 24th book he'd finished. Now posthumous interest in the coach (Bee died in '83), his hero (since '97 the Chip Hilton Award has gone to an exemplary student-athlete) and the books (they've been re-released) has led Bee's daughter, Cindy, to get out the last book. Fiery Fullback hits stores on Aug. 15.
Last Saturday about 60 Hiltonites gathered to discuss Fullback at the Chip Hilton Sports Symposium at Long Island University, where Bee's teams had a 222-3 home record in the '30s and '40s. "You associate symposium with, say, narrative structure in Faulkner," said Dennis Kirkpatrick, a TV producer from L.A., "but I wouldn't have missed this." Plot hint from Fiery Fullback: Chip plays real good.