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Old 03-28-2011, 03:23 PM
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Favorite Sports books?


I am in the mood to read some sports writing. Non Fiction preferably but fiction is welcome if it's really good. If we can leave out Biographies I would appreciate it.

It's not a genre that I have really any experience with, but I finally got around to reading Moneyball a couple of months ago and am interested in more.

So what do people like?

(If this is better for the Game Room I understand, but I figured Cafe Society since my interest is in writing with Sports Writing being sort of a sub genre.)

Edit: Dammit! Can't edit the title after you hit post, huh?

Last edited by NAF1138; 03-28-2011 at 03:25 PM. Reason: I am dumb
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Old 03-28-2011, 03:41 PM
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Paper Lion (and its sequel, Mad Ducks and Bears), by George Plimpton. A great look into what life in the NFL is like, or at least, was like in the 1960s.

When Pride Still Mattered, by David Maraniss. Insightful, well-written biography on Vince Lombardi. (On edit, I see that you're not so interested in biographies, but this is a really excellent book.)

Scorecasting, by Tobias Moskowitz and Jon Wertheim. Freakonomics for sports geeks. Proves (or disproves) various bits of conventional wisdom in sports.

Baseball Between the Numbers, by the Baseball Prospectus staff. Sort of similar to Scorecasting, focuses on sabermetrics and new stats for understanding baseball.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 03-28-2011 at 03:43 PM.
  #3  
Old 03-28-2011, 03:52 PM
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Baseball:

- To learn the game's, well, inside baseball: Pure Baseball by Keith Hernandez and a ghost writer. Takes a couple of games and walks you through the strategy decisions pitch by pitch, taking time to explain concepts along the way. You think you know baseball or wish you understood it more? This is your book.

- About the game: Ball Four, by Jim Bouton - the first tell-all, the best tell-all. Real laugh-out-loud moments on most pages and deep insight about the game, the business of the game and growing old in the game.

- About the game: Summer of '49 and October 1964 by David Halberstam. '49 is about the Yankees and Red Sox and Golden Age baseball; 1964 is about the Cardinals and the Yankees representing New School vs. Old School baseball and the emergence of teams led by African Americans...

- Football - I guess I would go with North Dallas Forty and/or Semi-Tough - novels but thought of as highly accurate about pro football back in the day...

All for now...
  #4  
Old 03-28-2011, 04:18 PM
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+1 for Ball Four, Semi-Tough, and North Dallas Forty. Haven't read any of them in 30 years, so my memory may be a bit fuzzy, but I remember all of them being very plain-spoken on what it was really like to be a pro player in those sports.
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Old 03-28-2011, 06:09 PM
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Moneyball

Last edited by ExcitedIdiot; 03-28-2011 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 03-28-2011, 06:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ExcitedIdiot View Post
The OP has already read Moneyball.
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Old 03-28-2011, 06:41 PM
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Caesars Palace.
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:20 PM
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Monday Night Mayhem.very good.
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:33 PM
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If you're any kind of baseball fan, you need to read The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America by Joe Posnanski. Joe was a columnist for the Kansas City Star at the time and spent a year traveling with Buck near the end of his life.


*sniff* I miss old Buck.
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:37 PM
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I'll cast another vote for Bouton's Ball Four, and for similar tales of life in the NFL, try Conrad Dobler's They Call Me Dirty.
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:44 PM
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Among those not listed

Baseball:

Veeck as in Wreck - By Bill Veeck w/ Ed Linn

Why Time Begins on Opening Day - by Thomas Boswell

The Politics of Glory: Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame - by Bill James

Football:

Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer - by Jerry Kramer w/ Dick Schaap

PB: The Paul Brown Story - by Paul Brown

That First Season: How Vince Lombardi Took the Worst Team in the NFL and Set It on the Path to Glory by John Eisenberg


Basketball

Second Wind: The Memoir of an Opinionated Man by Bill Russell w/ Taylor Branch

Loose Balls: The Short Wild Life of the American Basketball Association by Terry Pluto

Hockey:

The Game by Ken Dryden
  #12  
Old 03-28-2011, 07:47 PM
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Semi-Tough, Life Its Ownself, Rude Behavior - The Billy Clyde Puckett trilogy - Dan Jenkins

The Money-Whipped Steer-Job Three-Jack Give-Up Artist, Slim and None, The Franchise Babe - The Bobby Joe Grooves trilogy - Dan Jenkins

You Gotta Play Hurt
- Dan Jenkins


I'm sensing a theme.......



For those who enjoyed North Dallas Forty, you need to read The Franchise by the same author.

Last edited by silenus; 03-28-2011 at 07:48 PM.
  #13  
Old 03-28-2011, 08:12 PM
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Monday Night Mayhem.very good.
I agree, it was pretty good. Do you know if they'll update it?
  #14  
Old 03-28-2011, 08:19 PM
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My favorite is the long out-of-print The Great American Sports Book by George Gipe. A comprehensive look at US sports starting in the 1870s.

Though it's a children's book (and also out of print), I still love Porko Von Popbutton (aka Beat the Queen. It's a delightful and wildly entertaining hockey story.

Jim Brosnan's The Long Season is still a classic. Brosnan was a pitcher for the Reds who kept a diary of his season; it was the first "warts and all" baseball books, and still one of the best. He wrote a second one, Pennant Race a couple of years later.

Joel Oppenheimer's The Wrong Season (yes, the title is a nod to Brosnan) is probably the best account ever written about being a fan. Oppenheimer was a well-regarded poet and also kept a diary of following the New York Mets in 1972. You don't have to be a Mets fan to understand the angst. Also out of print, alas.
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Old 03-28-2011, 08:40 PM
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I really enjoyed Three Nights In August (though that may reflect my Cardinals bias).
  #16  
Old 03-28-2011, 08:44 PM
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Fantasyland: A Sportswriter's Obsessive Bid to Win the World's Most Ruthless Fantasy Baseball by Sam Walker. This guy joins a fantasy league and plays as if he owns a real team. He goes to the winter meetings, hires two statisticians (one of whom previously worked for NASA), awards a weekly MVP trophy, gives jerseys to his players (some of whom wear them) and notifies them when they have been traded (some of whom get really upset). This book made me fall out laughing.
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Old 03-28-2011, 08:58 PM
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Win It For... Before the seventh game of the 2004 ALCS between the Red Sox and the Yankees, a post was created on the "Sons of Sam Horn" message board imploring the Red Sox to win it for Sox' fans past Sox' greats including Ted, Yaz and Tony. And what followed was a deluge of responses that went well into the thousands beseeching the Sox to win it for everyone from "Sox fans living in Yankeeland" to a brother lost on 9/11 to a deceased or ailing family member.

The post was eventually inducted into the HOF in Cooperstown and selected postings were used to make this book with all proceeds split between the Jimmy Fund and Curt Schilling's charity to help Lou Gehrig Disease research.

Of all the books I've ever read on the Sox (or baseball) nothing comes close to showing the love, angst, heart broke and most of all, loyalty, of being a fan for a team.
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Old 03-29-2011, 04:52 AM
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Fever pitch is pretty awesome.
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Old 03-29-2011, 07:38 AM
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If you liked Moneyball, you should like its soccer equivalent, Soccernomics, by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski (the original title is Why England Lose).

Other recommendations for soccer are:

The Damned Utd by David Peace and The Miracle of Castel di Sangro by Joe McGinness (yes, that Joe McGinnis).
  #20  
Old 03-29-2011, 07:47 AM
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The Blind Side by Michael Lewis
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Old 03-29-2011, 07:55 AM
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The Boys of Summer, by Roger Kahn is about the Brooklyn Dodgers is very good I think, along w/ his lesser known Good Enough to Dream, about his year owning a minor league baseball team. I'm enjoying A Whole Different Ballgame by Marvin Miller, about the labor movement in baseball right now. Thought David Remnick's biography of Ali was worthwhile, as was Unforgiveable Blackness, about Jack Johnson.
  #22  
Old 03-29-2011, 07:57 AM
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Oops, sorry I included biographies!
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:00 AM
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I think that John Feinstein is the best writer currently writing about sports. He writes mainly about golf and basketball, with a few books on other sports. A few of the ones I have read and enjoyed are:

Living On The Black - about Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina
Next Man Up - a season with the Baltimore Ravens

Golf books
A Good Walk Spoiled
Caddy For Life
Tales From Q School
Open

Basketball books
A Season On The Brink
March To Madness
The Last Amateurs
  #24  
Old 03-29-2011, 08:04 AM
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Although I haven't read it, Friday Night Lights is supposed to be very good.
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:07 AM
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I have read it, and Dewey's right: Friday Night Lights is very good.

Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand, is also a good book. I know next to nothing about horse racing, and she makes it come alive.

Last edited by Snickers; 03-29-2011 at 08:07 AM.
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Old 03-29-2011, 11:41 AM
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The Last Shot by Darcy Frey
An excellent non fiction work about 4 inner city players trying to get out of Coney Island.
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Old 03-29-2011, 11:55 AM
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The Last Loud Roar by Bob Cousy with Ed Linn - An amazing book! Out of print, but worth looking for.

Celtics Pride by Bob Ryan - Covers the post-Russell years into the Cowens-Havlicek-Nelson era. Wickedly funny is places, gives a good luck at just how whacked out the NBA as an organization was in those days
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Old 03-29-2011, 11:58 AM
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Football Lingo.

Sorry, that's a smartass answer. I remember one of my classmates borrowed this book from the school library sometime around 1970. Why I remember that, I don't know, but every time I hear the word "lingo," I recall this book. Strange how memory works.

More seriously, and not to completely waste a poste, I'll add my vote to Ball Four, the Paper Lion, and North Dallas Forty.

Not a sports book in the sense of the others, but I can't recommend Arthur Ashe's memoir Days of Grace highly enough. I put it in here because it was written by an athlete, even though sports is a small part of the book. He was a class act. You said to leave out biographies, so this may or may not count (it's as much an autobiography as anything else).

You may also be interested in some of John Wooden's books. Inspirational life lessons. Or you may not be interested in that. Can't hurt to post the option, though, can it?

Last edited by Prelude to Fascination; 03-29-2011 at 11:59 AM. Reason: fixed tag
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Old 03-29-2011, 12:38 PM
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The Big Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons is a great read for, well, basketball.

He breaks down his pyramid of all time players and gives a really interesting history and evolution of the game.
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:12 PM
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Ron Luciano: The Umpire Strikes Back, Strike Two, The Fall of the Roman Umpire, Remembrance of Swings Past and Baseball Lite.

(I've only read the first 2 but they made me LOL)
  #31  
Old 03-29-2011, 04:35 PM
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The Coach (A season with Ron Barassi) by John Powers.

In 1977 Powers was embedded with the AFL club North Melbourne, from the first pre-season session, every training run and every game. North had lost the 1976 grand final after winning their first premiership in 1975.

In a year of successes and reversals, North finished the season with a drawn Grand Final (the 2nd ever) and winning the replay against Collingwood who'd won the wooden spoon in 1976.

Quotes, quips and truisms of Aussie Rules (and probably any sporting club) are found on every page.
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:51 PM
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Heaven is a Playground is a fantastic book about the lives of street basketball players in New York City in the 70's. There is a whole culture around it and the author Rick Telandar spent months immersed in it before writing his book.

A False Spring tells the story of the author as a high draft pick in baseball and his subsequent life in the minor leagues. He is only 18 when he goes pro and he learns his life lessonsfrom ballplayers and coaches in the lower minors. One of my all time favorite baseball books.

In general, sports books fall into this ranking:

Baseball>Golf>Basketball>>>>>>Football. I haven't read a hockey book.
  #33  
Old 03-29-2011, 07:58 PM
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I am going through the suggestions and putting together an amazon list now, thanks everyone.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamar Mundane View Post
Baseball>Golf>Basketball>>>>>>Football. I haven't read a hockey book.
Golf huh?

Ok, I think I saw a golf book recommended upthread, I will give it a shot. I would never have picked up a golf book on my own, but what the heck.
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAF1138 View Post
I am going through the suggestions and putting together an amazon list now, thanks everyone.


Golf huh?

Ok, I think I saw a golf book recommended upthread, I will give it a shot. I would never have picked up a golf book on my own, but what the heck.
I'm just referring to the quality of the writing, although Rick Reilly has written a couple of funny golf novels.
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