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January 1&15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Sports Books
It’s hardly surprising that baseball placed the most titles on this list, but it is a bit out of the ordinary that horses came in second. Among the three horsey titles on the list, two are biographies (of a jockey and a horse, respectively) and the third is a how-to book. Sports nonfiction titles reviewed in Booklist from September 1, 2000, through August 2001 were eligible for the top 10.
Angell, Roger. A Pitcher’s Story. 2001. Warner, $24.95 (0-446-52768-8).
Celebrated baseball writer Angell (see next page) has written a brilliant book about the art of pitching and about one particular pitcher, David Cone, once a star, now a struggling veteran trying to recapture the magic. Sobering, enlightening, funny, and real.
Dizikes, John. Yankee Doodle Dandy: The Life and Times of Ted Sloan. 2000. Yale, $22.50 (0-300-08334-3).
Flamboyant nineteenth-century jockey Ted Sloan, who revolutionized his sport by inventing a new form of riding, was celebrated in both the U.S. and England before being banned from racing. Dizikes vividly details the jockey’s rise to fame and fall from grace in the context of his times and the evolution of the sport.
Fleitz, David L. Shoeless: The Life and Times of Joe Jackson. 2001. McFarland, paper, $29.95 (0-7864-0978-9).
Shoeless Joe Jackson, banned from baseball for his alleged involvement in the 1919 World Series gambling scandal, is viewed by many as an illiterate phenom hustled by city slickers. Fleitz shows it ain’t so, Joe, in this provocative biography.
Hillenbrand, Laura. Seabiscuit. 2001. Random, $24.95 (0-375-50291-2).
There have been numerous biographies of famous horses, but this surprise best-seller is best by open lengths, both because Seabiscuit’s rags-to-riches story is unparalleled in a sport known for long shots and because Hillenbrand expands the scope to include the owner, trainer, and jockey.
Kennedy, A. L. On Bullfighting. 2001. Vintage, paper, $11 (0-385-72081-5).
Unlike Hemingway’s machismo approach to bullfighting, novelist Kennedy writes with great sensitivity on the more spiritual aspects of the ritual-laden sport. A graceful meditation on the horror and beauty of bullfighting.
McGraw, Dan. First and Last Seasons: A Father, a Son, and Sunday Afternoon Football. 2000. Doubleday, $23.95 (0-385-49833-0).
Journalist McGraw had intended to write a book about the new Cleveland Browns football team but wound up chronicling the last months before his father’s death from cancer. Pro football was part of the fabric that linked the author to his father, and it is the glue that holds together this moving examination of family relationships.
Morris, Jim and Engel, Joel. The Oldest Rookie: Big League Dreams from a Small-Town Guy. 2001. Little, Brown, $22.95 (0-316-59156-4).
Morris, a high-school baseball coach and former minor-league pitcher, makes a deal with the kids on his team: if they make the play-offs, he’ll try for the majors one last time. They do, and he does. It’s a fabulous baseball story, full of wonderful humor, but it isn’t all about dreams coming true; it also shows how much dreams cost, to the dreamers and to their loved ones.
Pickett, Lynn Snowden. Looking for a Fight. 2000. Dial, $23.95 (0-385-31584-8).
After an emotionally draining divorce, Pickett sought solace at New York’s legendary Gleason’s Gym, where she donned boxing gloves and sparred with men. Much more than a Plimptonesque stab at participatory journalism, this tough-as-nails memoir describes a personal odyssey in which short left hooks are effective antidotes for modern angst.
Price, Steven D. Essential Riding: A Realistic Approach to Horsemanship. 2000. Lyons, paper, $16.95 (1-58574-002-0).
Sometimes a how-to book does its job so effectively that it deserves mention alongside its more literary brethren. So it is with this humorous yet practical guide to horseback riding. Price addresses such all-important issues as how to make the horse go, always a challenge with “lesson horses”-the burned-out bureaucrats of the equine world.
Stanton, Tom. The Final Season: Fathers, Sons, and One Last Season in a Classic American Ballpark. 2001. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $23.95 (0-312-27288-X).
Stanton attended every Detroit Tiger home game in 1999, the final season for historic 88-year-old Tiger Stadium. His account of that year is really about baseball and baseball parks as they exist in the memories of those who love them. A warm, life-affirming memoir.
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