Throughout his peripatetic career as a writer and journalist, John Schulian has often had reason to recall the Hollywood Stars and the Los Angeles Angels, the Pacific Coast League baseball teams he followed as a youth in Los Angeles. Meeting a Californian of a certain age, reading the obituary of a former Pacific Coast League player and seeing the face of a minor league infielder turned major league manager have all stirred his memory. But it was an Ebbets Field Flannels catalog featuring reproductions of old minor league caps and jerseys that motivated Schulian, 48, to commit these recollections, which begin on page 60, to print. After opening the catalog, says Schulian, "I floated for a day and a half. Here were all the uniforms and caps of the teams I knew as a kid. Watching the Stars and Angels was how I learned to love baseball."
His love of the game has taken him far. A catcher for the East High Leopards in Salt Lake City, he accepted a scholarship to Utah, where he earned a degree in journalism in 1967. After a year of graduate work at Northwestern, he spent a two-year hitch in the Army putting out a post newspaper at Fort Sheridan, Ill. "We'd put the paper to bed at 11 a.m. on a Thursday, then go out and catch a Cub game," says Schulian. "It hardly qualified as a 'War is hell' experience."
Soon after his tour of duty Schulian began work as a reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun. Among other duties he wrote a once-a-week rock 'n' roll column, in the service of which he experienced a few of what he calls "the small indignities" of his trade. " Alice Cooper," he recalls, "once borrowed my pen to stir his drink."
His first foray into sportswriting was also his debut in this magazine. That article, about a boxing promoter who ran a gym above a strip joint in Baltimore (SI, March 4, 1974), may have been what inspired The Washington Post to offer him a sportswriting job in 1975. After a year and a half of covering pro football and pro basketball and writing features for the Post, he began a career as a sports columnist that spanned eight years and three newspapers: the Chicago Daily News, the Chicago Sun-Times and The Philadelphia Daily News.
In 1985 Schulian sent a copy of Writers' Fighters and Other Sweet Scientists, a collection of his boxing stories, to Steven Bochco, the creator of the television series Hill Street Blues. A year later Schulian found himself back in Hollywood, in a story meeting for a new Bochco series called L.A. Law. "For the first 10 minutes I was awestruck," says Schulian. "I was over my head. I thought, I've spent my life taking notes—I had better take notes now."
He was credited with an episode of L.A. Law, even though he says he wrote only "about two sentences." Since then, Schulian has written for a number of TV shows, including Miami Vice, Wiseguy and Reasonable Doubts. Ironically, it was Schulian's move back to L.A. that made him refrain from ordering a Star jersey from the Ebbets Field Flannels catalog. Says Schulian, "I thought it'd be presumptuous to be walking around here with HOLLYWOOD across my back and a star on my chest."