The Best Sports Books

If you like sports and want to move beyond your weekly Sports Illustrated, you may be in the market for a good book about sports. Luckily, there are plenty to choose from including in depth biographies, stats books and books about sports for kids. The following is a list, by category, of some sports books fans may enjoy.

BASEBALL

Shoeless Joe (W.P. Kinsella). This novel is the basis for the famous baseball flick “Field of Dreams.” Its 265 pages of story set around the sport’s most famous fictional cornfield.

Babe Ruth’s Own Book of Baseball (George Herman Ruth). There’s question to whether The Babe himself wrote all of this book, but it still gives a look into the life and times of one of sports most storied players. Originally printed back in the late 1920s.

The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History (Phil Dixon). Pictures are worth a thousand words in this book which lets reader literally look at the Negro Leagues, the leagues where great players like Josh Gibson were relegated by racism but still managed to set records and win some fame. A similar book is Negro League Baseball (Ernest C. Withers).

ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia
Get your stats fresh each year with this baseball book produced ever season by ESPN. The 2006 version has a forward by Peter Gammons. Sports Illustrated also puts out a yearly Prospectus to help fantasy leaguers.

FOOTBALL

ESPN College Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of the Game (Michael MacCambridge)
For people more interested in the college game than the NFL, check stats and history in this 1632 page tome.
MacCambridge is also the author of the football history America’s Game: The Epic Story of How Football Captured a Nation. If you doubt the truth to his title, consider that 90 million people tuned into the 2006 Super Bowl! 576 pages.

Fans of the college sport may also want to check out the book Big Games: College Football’s Greatest Rivalries (Michael Bradley) which focused on warfare between such teams as Auburn and Alabama, Army vs. Navy and my personal favorite, Miami vs. FSU (go ‘Canes!). Even younger player populate Friday Night Lights (HG Bissinger) This book was the basis for the critically-acclaimed Billy Bob Thorton movie about Texas high school football.

The Pittsburg Steelers: The Official Team History
This is actually one of a series of “official team history” books available for all NFL teams. Includes history and stats. Check out this one for the 2006 champs or delve into your own team’s story. And if you enjoy Super Bowl lore, no matter who wins, try The Super Bowl: An Official Retrospective (Ken Leiker, et al.) This book (which comes with a dvd) talks to star players, includes pictures/illustrations and explains the story of the Super Bowl, America’ most popular single sports event.

BASKETBALL

NCAA March Madness: Cinderellas, Superstars and Champions from the NCAA’s Final Four (NCCA Books)
“Remember that big game whenâÂ?¦” If you’re hooked on college hoops, you will enjoy the eleventh hour stories told in this book chronicling big moments in the last rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament.

Driven From Within (Michael Jordan, et al.) The most recent book by the game’s ultimate player, this is his 2005 take on business success using the kind of drive that made him a winner. Fans looking for insider sports stuff may want to try his earlier book For The Love Of The Game: My Story (both books co-written with Mark Vancil) Speaking of great players, consider reading Wilt, 1962: The Night of 100 Points And The Dawn of A New Era (Gary M. Pomerantz) This book details the night Wilt Chamberlain hit the one-night NBA scoring record and examines how his milestone epitomized the changing racial dynamic of the sport. Speaking of records, NBA fans may want to pick up the Official NBA Encyclopedia (David Stern, editor)
Published in 2000, it maybe a few years out of date but still includes stats for the NBA fan.

GOLF

How I Play Golf (Tiger Woods) If you’re going to learn, learn from the best. Tiger Woods penned this book in 2001 and has only become more successful since then. Another golf book? Extreme Golf: The World’s Most Unusual, Fantastic and Bizarre Courses (Duncan Lennard) And you thought your course had quirks: 200 photographs in this book showcase odd and exotic locale where golf is – somehow- played. Also check out Hallowed Ground: Golf’s Most Famous Places (Linda Hartough, et. al). Another book showcasing golf course, this time, more traditional ones, including such ultra traditional ones as Augusta.

HOCKEY

The Greatest Hockey Stories Ever Told (Bryant Urstadt)
From a variety of writers comes this hockey anthology released in 2004. Contributors include Wayne Gretsky and Toe Blake.
They Don’t Play Hockey in Heaven: A Dream, A Team, and My Comeback Season (Ken Baker) A writer recovers from cancer and hits the ice, in real life, trying to regain his hockey dream. Called one of the “best sports books of the year” by Booklist in 2003. Number Four, Bobby Orr (Mike Leonetti, et al) An illustrated hockey book for kids aged 4-8 about a youth player who’s broken leg coincides with Orr’s 1972 Stanley Cup victory with the Bruins.

HORSERACING

Kentucky Derby Stories (Jim Bolus) Published in 1993, this book was written by an expert of Derby history. It contains stories on various horses including Affirmed. Another horse got his own book: Seabiscuit (Lauren Hillenbrand) This is the book that led to the Toby Maguire movie about a long-shot horse that captured America’s Depression-era hearts. The book was acclaimed in its own right.

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