Saddle Up, Charlie: Charlie Wysocki's Journey From Gridiron Glory Into Mental Illness is available from amazon.com or at ctwalters.com.
Baseball writer C. Terry Walters (Diamond Redemptions) was working on his next project when an offer came in to co-write the story of a former All-American running back who succumbed to mental illness and fell off the national radar screen for the next 30 years. Charlie's story had it all, a Cain and Abel type relationship, inter-racial adoption, sports notoriety, marital violence, electroshock therapy and tough battle to stay physically and spiritually alive. The baseball book moved to the back burner.
"Saddle-up, Charlie." With those words University of Maryland football coach Jerry Claiborne nudged Charlie Wysocki toward the playing field. Charlie knew what was expected. He would take the hand-off from quarterback Boomer Esiason and rush toward the slice of daylight created by his offensive line, over and over again until he reached the end zone.
With each punishing foray into enemy territory, Charlie put a greater distance between himself and the lost boy named Charlie DeGraffenreid. Every big gain or touchdown moved him closer to his dream of playing in the NFL
Now Charlie Wysocki finally gets to tell his story. From Pennsylvania high school wrestling champion and college All-ACC football player, his life spiraled down to a depth from which few have ever returned. Charlie still fights today for redemption and a shot at the happiness that mental illness has denied him.
Walters and Wysocki have created an unblinking look at the devastation of bi-polar disorder on both the patients and families coping with this cruelly incurable condition. You do not have to be a sports fan to appreciate this story and root for Charlie to stay in the saddle.