Cleveland stops in city for book signing

Published 10:29 am Monday, December 1, 2014

Dozens of people flocked to Lorelei Books in downtown Vicksburg Sunday as famed Mississippi sports writer Rick Cleveland signed copies of his new book, “Mississippi’s Greatest Athletes.”

Cleveland, the longtime authority on Mississippi sports at The Clarion Ledger and current director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, conceived the idea as a fundraising effort for the Hall of Fame. When it took off, Cleveland said he enjoyed researching and writing about the players he spent the majority of his life covering.

“What’s neat for me is, I’m writing this book, I’m writing about all these people I’ve covered all my life,” he said. “For a year I’ve been getting up at about 5:30, 6 a.m. every morning and working for a couple of hours before I get to work to get it done.”

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The book has already made more than $25,000 for the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum and has sold out of bookstores across the state since its publication. Noted Vicksburg athletes such as Kayo Dottley and Crawford Mims are but a few of the players covered in the glossy coffee table book.

“You just look at the cover of the book, the front cover and the back cover, and you see who these people are, and in most cases they’re all from small-town Mississippi,” Cleveland said. “It’s amazing.”
The longtime sports writer signed copies of his book and chatted with people who said they grew up reading his columns and stories. For him, the book was work that he truly appreciated.

“I started writing sports for The Hattiesburg American when I was 13, so I’ve been covering these people for 49 years,” Cleveland said. “In most of the cases, I not only know them, I know their families, I know their sons and daughters. The book itself was a labor of love.”