Sam Heys is an award-winning journalist who uses a powerful and concise writing style to capture time and place.
Heys is co-author of the critically claimed “The Winecoff Fire: The Untold Story of America’s Deadliest Hotel Fire,” which he wrote with Allen B. Goodwin in 1993. Although only distributed by Longstreet Press in the Southeast, and primarily in Georgia, “The Winecoff Fire” went into three printings, remained in publication for more than eight years and was reviewed positively by a dozen Southern papers. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution described it as “carefully and poignantly set forth.” The Montgomery Advertiser said, “Their story is riveting.” Investigative reporting by Heys and Allen Goodwin found that the 1946 Atlanta fire was arson, and their book tells the stories of the 119 lives that were its victims.
Heys’ story “Hills of Coal, Feats of Clay” was selected as the best sports feature story written in America in 1988 and thereby included in the book “45th Annual Sports Journalism Awards Best Sports Stories.” Heys’ article was the lead story in the anthology, which also included articles by well-known sports writers and authors John Feinstein, Thomas Boswell, Sally Jenkins and Rick Reilly. The “judges’ comment” that appeared at the end of the article stated: “The best journalism always has been that which helps us understand the human condition. The best sports writers always have known that. … Heys understands the role the Tigers play in their coal-country culture. He helps us understand it too. And he makes us care about both the team and the culture.”
Another article by Heys was included in the “1985 Best Sports Stories” anthology and told the story of a star college basketball player who became a janitor cleaning the gym at his hometown college.
A free-lance writer, Heys has 16 years of newspaper experience, 11 of them with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he was a features writer and a sports reporter, editor and columnist. He was sports editor of the Columbus Enquirer in Columbus, Ga., in the mid-1970s, during which time he won state and national writing awards.