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Alan Page unveiling children's book at his foundation's gala

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Alan Page
Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, a pro football Hall of Famer, has written a children's book about his odd pinky, which is permanently bent outward at a 90-degree angle.
MPR Photo/Alex Friedrich

When Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page holds his foundation's annual gala on Saturday night at Target Field, he will officially release the children's book that he co-wrote with his daughter.

Page's left pinky is disfigured, jutting out at a 90-degree angle. He dislocated it during a game when he was a Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle.

In his book, "Alan and His Perfectly Pointy, Impossibly Perpendicular Pinky," Page visits a grammar school class. A boy asks him: "What happened to your finger?"

The class is shocked by his supposed lack of manners.

But Page tells the boy: "Good question."  

"It's really a story about the child in all of us, about how we relate to children," Page said. "It's about imagination. So it's really a story that goes beyond simply a story about my little finger."

Page's new book
Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page reads from his new book "Alan and his Perfectly Pointy, Impossibly Perpendicular Pinky."
MPR Photo/Alex Friedrich

He added: "The story is really a metaphor that we really do learn from each other and that even those children who sometimes seem to be doing things out of place -- it's not always a bad thing."

Page said he wrote the book to "catch people's attention" for the foundation's 25th anniversary.

He and his wife, Diane, started the foundation in 1988. It gives postsecondary-education scholarships to Minnesota students of color, and in turn those scholars spend time working with schoolchildren.

"Reading is critical," Page said, "and anything we can do to interest particularly young chilren is vitally important. So the book is a natural for the foundation."

He will have 500 autographed copies available at the gala, and sales of the book will benefit the foundation.

It will be available on the foundation's website, and he will hold a reading May 19 at the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul.

Page recalled the injury, which happened early in his career with the Vikings, where he played from 1967 to 1978.

Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page
Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page at Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul, Minn. His Page Education Foundation will hold its annual gala on Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Tom Crann

"I made a tackle," he said. "And in the process of making that tackle, my finger got caught in somebody's jersey. The ball carrier kept going one way, and my finger went with him while I was going the other way. And I dislocated the finger. I wanted to cry, quite frankly, it hurt so bad. I bent over, holding my hand -- probably whimpering."

A teammate pulled Page's finger back into place, and he continued playing in pain.

He dislocated the pinky again several times after that -- both on and off the field.

"Sadly, being a little bit of a slow learner, had I merely taped the pinky to the finger next to it, it probably wouldn't look like this today," he said. "In the end, all the ligaments on the inside of the finger were torn, and so the ligaments on the outside pulled the finger out."

Page said he frequently gets asked about his finger -- especially when he visits schools -- but it doesn't bother him.

"I can see why people would be curious," he said. If anything, he said, it serves as a warning to young aspiring athletes about how dangerous football can be.