Harvey Frommer, a prolific writer who penned more than 50 books, died Thursday of complications from lung cancer at his home in New Hampshire, his family said. The former North Woodmere resident was 83.
Frommer wrote on a wide range of topics but specialized in sports narrative, collaborating on autobiographies with pitching legend Nolan Ryan and former Knicks coach Red Holzman. He also wrote, several books on baseball, including “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball” and “New York City Baseball: The Golden Age, 1947-1957.”
Frommer was born on Oct. 10, 1935, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where he developed an early interest in sports and academia, his son, Fred Frommer, said. He graduated from Boys High School in Brooklyn and earned a bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. from New York University.
He then briefly covered the Chicago Cubs for United Press International before receiving an honorable discharge from the Army National Guard in 1963.
Fred Frommer, 52, of Washington, D.C., said his father approached his work at full tilt and was also an English teacher at Far Rockaway High School.
“He was a very driven person,” Frommer said. “He grew up during the Depression and always had that Depression-era mentality of always striving for the next thing.”
Harvey Frommer spent hours writing in his Far Rockaway basement while teaching at City University of New York, from the bedroom when the family moved to North Woodmere, and — once he secured a teaching position at Dartmouth College in 1992 — from a spacious office with a view of the mountains in Lyme, New Hampshire.
At Darmouth, Frommer, whose doctorate is in media and communications, taught a course with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer, who also holds a Ph.D. from NYU, in media ecology. The couple co-wrote several books, including “Growing Up Jewish in America: An Oral History.”
Frommer always carved out time to spend with his three children. Jennifer Frommer of Manhattan remembers him inviting her whole elementary school class to the family’s small backyard so they could inspect his vegetable garden, and Fred recalls spending evenings with his father fielding ground balls.
As children, Fred Frommer said they enjoyed their father’s sense of irreverence, recalling the time he tried to sneak a baseball bat onto a plane by sliding it down his pant leg and walking “peg leg through security.” Or the time when he hid Fred and Jennifer in a duffel bag and carried them into the hospital past the nurses who didn’t allow children into the nursery, so they could see their newborn brother, Ian Frommer.
“He was funny and fearless and always ready to take on the next thing,” Fred said.
Up until he was diagnosed with lung cancer in May, Frommer exhibited at 83 the same vitality that thrust him throughout his career and was even mulling a new book about Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.
“He just really wanted to work until the very end,” Fred Frommer said.
In addition to his wife and children, Frommer is survived by six grandchildren.
A memorial will be held Monday at noon at the Plaza Jewish Community Chapel in Manhattan, followed by a service at Mount Lebanon Cemetery in Glendale, Queens.