Alan Simon Books


Pennsylvania Governor John K. Tener

Of all the real-life personalities involved in The Great Reunion whom I came across while writing Part I, the one who really jumped out at me was Governor John K. Tener of Pennsylvania…so much so that I had to make him something other than an anecdotal or reference-only character in the story.

The first time I came across John Tener’s name I thought it sounded familiar. When I was growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1960s and early 1970s I was so much of a baseball “nut” and Pittsburgh Pirates fan that I could just about recite the name of every player on each Pirates team going back fifty or sixty years to the turn of the 20th century. Further, I lived and breathed baseball and read just about everything there was to read. Sure enough, when reading about Tener I knew where I had heard his name before: as the President of the National League back in the early part of the 20th century, and a former 19th century baseball pitcher himself.

What is fascinating is that Tener began serving as the National League President even while he was still Governor. The more I read about Tener, the more fascinating his story became:

•Born in Ireland only weeks after the Battle of Gettysburg

•After his baseball playing days – and even during – a Pittsburgh-area businessman

•Drafted by the Pennsylvania Republican Party to run for Governor in light of a scandal in the building of the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg (a magnificent building I used to cut through on a daily basis when I worked in Harrisburg, including the trip where I came up with the idea for this novel)

•A reform-oriented, progressive record as Governor

•A very tall man for his day – 6’ 4”, the same height as Abraham Lincoln and a fact I mention in the story

For all of the reasons above, I decided to not only include John K. Tener as an active character in the story but also to identify him as our “Part I Featured Real-Life Personality.”