- Serialized long-form historical fiction, blended with historically-authentic social media content
- Season-long project examines cultural themes of baseball, music, race, media, crime and celebrity in America at peak of the Roaring 20’s
- Protagonist Myles Thomas, fictionalized version of real-life 1927 New York Yankees player
- Project told in real time, synchronized to the events of 1927, on and off the baseball diamond, throughout the season
- Douglas Alden, Creator and Executive Producer
ESPN announced today the debut of 1927: The Diary of Myles Thomas, an ambitious, season-long, real-time historical fiction project, examining America at the peak of the Jazz Age and the Roaring 20’s through the fictionalized diary of one player on the 1927 New York Yankees.
Created and produced by Douglas Alden – a digital entrepreneur, three time Emmy Award writer/producer/director, and a founding member of Classic Sports Network (now ESPN Classic), where he was the head of programming and production for the network’s first five years – 1927: The Diary of Myles Thomas is a bold and innovative retelling of the 1927 Yankees season on and off the field. Blending serialized, deeply-researched historical fiction with social media, the story will be published along the same timeline as the events of the entire season actually unfolded almost 90 years ago.
At the heart of this ambitious project is the diary of Myles Thomas, a real-life pitcher and teammate of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the rest of “Murderer’s Row”. Throughout the season, Thomas is the protagonist who, through a mixture of historical detail and narrative license, brings modern baseball fans inside what it was like to be a member of the Yankees and to live in America at the height of the Roaring 20’s.
Beginning April 12, 2016, 1927: The Diary of Myles Thomas project will be presented in real time through ESPN digital and social media on Medium.com and Twitter, and supported by historical content from Major League Baseball and the New York Times archives.
1927 was an enormously significant year in U.S. history, as Americans witnessed the emergence of commercial radio and mass communication, Charles Lindbergh’s Trans-Atlantic flight, Prohibition and speakeasies, Segregation and baseball’s Negro Leagues, the peak of the Jazz age and a literary “Golden Age”, the power of organized crime, and more. It was the height of the Roaring 20’s and the inter-war era of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Al Capone, Charlie Chaplin, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Dorothy Parker. As is so often the case, sports was deeply woven into the cultural experience of the time, and no sports team crossed paths with the most important people, events and movements of the era more than the iconic 1927 New York Yankees.
“With this experiment in storytelling, our goal is not to capture your imagination, but to unleash it,” said Alden. “We want fans to experience the Roaring Twenties in the present — and see the 1920s not as a fossilized, black and white history lesson, but as a blazing moment in time, full of color, innovation, insanity and, above all, youth; a decade much closer to our own than to any of the decades that preceded it, or most that followed.”
Researched and developed over several years, 1927: The Diary of Myles Thomas will be told using several formats and media platforms, including:
- Multiple long-form diary entries each week (75 in total) from Myles Thomas, sharing incredible stories and experiences from the season, both on and off the field.
- New York Times stories and box scores from every 1927 Yankees game, made available digitally in collaboration with the NYTimes.com “TimesMachine” archive.
- Fictional letters written in the voice of actual 1920’s Yankees beat writer Ford Frick (later to become baseball’s third commissioner), bringing a sportswriter’s context to the season and its intersections with 1920’s culture.
- Originally-authored social media content from multiple accounts – including more than 3,000 fictional tweets and real-time Twitter updates from every Yankees game of the year – all synchronized to the actual game time and date. Among the social media accounts:
- @1927Diary – the main account for the 1927: The Diary of Myles Thomas Providing content, insights and more.
- @MylesThomas27 – the fictional personal account of Myles Thomas. The account “lives” in 1927.
- @1927_NYYankees – the fictional account of the 1927 New York Yankees team, providing team news and updates, roster moves, scores and game updates – in synchronized real-time. Live-tweeting, from 1927.
- @FordFrick – the fictional personal account of the legendary sports journalist. As with Thomas’, the account “lives” in 1927.
“We are partnering with Douglas in a compelling experiment in storytelling that we believe will prove a robust and rewarding experience for baseball and literary fans alike,” said Patrick Stiegman, Vice President, Global Digital Content at ESPN. “It’s a project that allows fans to follow the historic achievements of the iconic 1927 Yankees via modern social conventions, dive deep into the archival data and coverage of the 1927 season, be immersed in the stranger-than-fiction exploits of the Yankees and accompanying characters, and build a richer historical bond with America in the ‘20s. The presentation is fresh and unique, and is an example of the innovative storytelling that we foster at ESPN.”
Real-time historical fiction is an innovative new genre, and its combination of serialized long-form historical fiction and social media is unique to this project. Presenting the stories and content throughout the course of the 2016 Major League Baseball season, all synchronized to real events in 1927, the project will highlight many social, cultural and historical elements that illustrate both the contrasts and similarities between 1927 and modern times.
The project will examine not only sports, but major cultural themes found in music, race and gender relations, religion, economics, media, celebrity, and more. It will include historically authentic language, stories and anecdotes, and an intersection of actual news and events within Major League Baseball and beyond.
1927: the Diary of Myles Thomas is the latest example of ESPN’s commitment to ground-breaking, in-depth, original storytelling in line with ESPN initiatives including 30 for 30, E:60, enterprise journalism from ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine and more.
Follow the season-long story: @1927Diary and join the conversation using #1927Yankees.
Kevin Ota, ESPN 860.766.9581 or [email protected]
Michael Skarka, ESPN 860.766.1342 or [email protected]