I prefer not to talk about myself. I'd much rather discuss the accomplishments of my family, friends, and the incredible people I write about. But I learned after writing my first few books that in order to get these wonderful stories out to the public, some self-promotion was necessary. So, reluctantly, here are a few nuggets about me.
My sister Lynne and I were born in the West Park neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, and I will always consider myself a Clevelander. I attended St. Patrick School through most of sixth grade and shared my father's love for sports, especially basketball, football, and baseball.
In 1981, my dad was transferred to Texas. We lived in a small suburb of Dallas called Flower Mound, population 4,500 at the time (today it’s nearly 80,000). Just a year later, my dad was transferred back to Cleveland. I attended part of seventh grade and all of eighth grade at St. Richard School in suburban North Olmsted. It was there where I met a cute 13-year-old girl named Debra who 10 years later would become my wife.
I went to high school at St. Ignatius in downtown Cleveland. Tuition then was about $1,700 a year, a fraction of what it is today. My mom told me that if I wanted to go there, I needed to get a job to help pay for it. My grandpa, James Mazzella, hired me to work in his shop at Mazzella Wire Rope & Sling Co., known today as Mazzella Lifting Technologies. I swept the floor and filled small orders for $3 an hour―big money then for a 14-year-old.
When I was 17, I realized that I had a knack for writing when I entered the Cleveland Indians batboy contest through the Cleveland Plain Dealer. I had to write, in 100 words or less, why I wanted to be the batboy. I mailed it five minutes before the deadline, and I was one of 25 finalists called to the stadium for an interview the following week. One of the men who interviewed me was PD writer Chuck Heaton, better known later to some as the father of actress Patricia Heaton. I came in second place behind Carmen Angelo Tedesco of WTAM radio fame today, which earned me the job as ballboy for the entire 1986 season. I finally chronicled my memories in 2020 in the book The Ballboy: True Tales of a Season in the Big Leagues.
I attended college at Ashland University, about an hour south of Cleveland, and majored in radio/television programming, performance, and production with a minor in journalism. After Deb was hired out of college for a job that brought us down to Northern Kentucky, I worked in a few different fields unrelated to my education before writing for a local weekly newspaper in 2001. Two years later I was lured to the Cincinnati Enquirer, where I covered K-12 education for 10 years.
I ended my tenure at the Enquirer on March 27, 2013, to write nonfiction books full time. In a nutshell, I help people with incredible stories tell their stories in their voices. Some of my books, including Cards for Brianna, The Doctor Will See You Now, and Angel in the Rubble have been published in multiple languages. Angel in the Rubble was also optioned in 2020 to Lifetime for a movie. I am honored to be represented by Ronald Goldfarb & Associates Literary Agency.
Deb and I have three awesome, generous, hard-working sons. As a family, we started Walk the Mile in 2018, a small 501(c)(3) nonprofit that makes and distributes brown-bag meals for the homeless. You can follow our work at facebook.com/walkthemileinc. I also founded and run an annual Special Olympics basketball game at our church, and Deb and I contribute our time, talent, and treasure to many other causes.
I'm a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (“Thunder Road” is the greatest song ever recorded), and in November 2012 our boys sang “Waitin' on a Sunny Day” with Bruce on stage at his concert in Louisville. Here is a link to that mind-blowing moment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyfo6d8j21w
As for my name, which has strangely been a source of confusion for some over the years, I was named William after my dad and called Billy when I was a kid since he was Bill. When I got into high school, kids started calling me Bill because they thought it sounded more mature. When I got to college, where maturity isn't really a concern, it reverted back to Billy. Then when I got into the working world, it went back to Bill. I've never asked people to call me one or the other. They call me what they want, and I'm cool with that. But if those who call me Billy hear someone call me Bill, or vice-versa, they are often perplexed. It's like worlds colliding (I had to sneak a “Seinfeld” reference in somewhere). To compromise, I put the formal "William" on the cover of my books, which also enables my dad to take credit for writing them. Call me whatever you'd like―I'm still me.
In conclusion, to summarize in a sentence what life is to me, it's about God, family, serving others, and trying to never forget where I came from and those who helped me along the way.
Enough about me. I hope you'll read about the incredible people who have trusted me to share their stories with you, stories that will hopefully make a positive impact on your life.
Thank you for reading.
-William Billy Bill Croyle