A Hollywood screenwriter, sick of others' opinions muting his ideas, hopped off that career track for a different dream -- a fantasy, one might call it. It's an aspiration he hopes is contagious.
"My belief is that I cannot rest until every man, woman and child is playing fantasy football," said Matthew Berry, author of The New York Times' bestselling book "Fantasy Life." "Once you try it, you'll get it."
Now a fantasy sports senior analyst at ESPN, the man known as the Talented Mr. Roto has chronicled his journey plus compiled some of the best fantasy league stories from his own life and fan submissions in his book, which is now available in paperback. Berry will be at Barnes & Noble Upper West Side at 7 p.m. Tuesday to sign copies of the book.
Joining his first league -- Rotisserie League Baseball -- at age 14, Berry kept fantasy sports as a hobby for years until realizing it needed a promotion. After finding that screenwriting no longer was his passion, he broke away to write about the Sunday diversion that would slowly gain widespread popularity.
"I'm 35 years old, and I'm miserable, and I just sort of felt like I'm probably not going to make any money at all. I'm probably going to fall on my face, but I just want to be happy," he said. "If I make $10,000 a year, I make $10,000 a year, and I'll figure out a way to survive."
While writing for film and TV on projects such as "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles," and "Married with Children," Berry began writing a column for RotoWorld.com, a small fantasy site. He started RotoPass.com in 1999 and TalentedMrRoto.com in 2004 to spur his career onward. ESPN would acquire the latter site, and he began working for them in 2007.
Berry's experience as an analyst and member of many leagues fuels the 200 stories crowding the pages of his book. From a 10-man league in Omaha in which the loser must get a tattoo, to the tale of a man paralyzed from the neck down a week before his fantasy draft who selected his players nevertheless ... catheter in and all. Plus, the time Matt Hasselbeck had the best week of any quarterback but, on his own fantasy team, had benched himself to start Brett Favre.