For quite a few years I’d been keeping an eye open for a book called Five-Yard Fuller, which I probably last read when I was around 10. I finally found a copy through Amazon’s associates program and ordered it. As soon as I opened it up and saw the interior illustration of a tall young man in overalls running through a crowd of football players with the ball over his head, the memories came flooding back. I just had to reread it.
Five-Yard Fuller was written by Bob Wells. It features a young man named Clarence Fuller who decides he wants to play football for the Knights, a professional football team very much down on its luck. In fact, their rather hapless abilities reminded me a lot of the New Orleans Saints in their heyday of mediocrity. Fuller has never played organized football, only sandlot ball, but he tells the coach of the Knights that it looks pretty easy. You just “take that little ball in your hand and move it down to where them two posts are standing.”
The coach decides to teach Fuller a lesson and lets him try it. The result is that Fuller scores a touchdown by running over the entire defensive unit. And thus a star is born.
I first discovered Five-Yard Fuller in my local small town library. I don’t know exactly what year I read it but it was published in 1964. To my amazement, and some slight irritation, I found there were actually some sequels to this book. I sure would have liked to have read those too back in the day. One was called Five-Yard Fuller and the Unlikely Knights. Another was Five-Yard Fuller’s Mighty Model T, and yet another was Five-Yard Fuller and the NY Gnats, which, from what I’ve been able to glean on the net is actually about Fuller playing baseball. All were published in the sixties.
I had not realized, until I reread the book, that the Adam Sandler movie The Waterboy was apparently based pretty closely on the Wells book, although the book is much, much better. There are just too many similarities to be a coincidence, although I never heard of any acknowledgement from the movie folks that this was the case. Maybe Wells should have gotten some of the $160 million that movie was supposed to have earned. I don’t know if Wells is still living but my guess is not. I couldn’t find out much about the author on the net. The problem seems to be that there are too many folks named Bob or Robert Wells who have been authors. If anyone knows anything about this Bob Wells I’d appreciate you letting me know.
This is definitely a young adult/kid’s book. It’s probably not the cup of tea of many of you out there, but it sure did bring back some pleasant memories.