January 12, 2005

Knockout prose: The always excellent Observer Sports Monthly is looking for the top 50 sports books of all time. It gives a some examples of top reads here. What would SpoFiers pick as their top three sports books? After ten seconds' deliberation, for me, it would probably be Fever Pitch (Nick Hornby), Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football (Tom Bower) and Basil D'Oliveira: Cricket and Conspiracy—The Untold Story (Peter Oborne). Anyone daring to pick David Beckham: My Side - The Autobiography will have their internet connection taken away from them!

posted by Pete to culture at 02:31 PM - 17 comments

HATER! The Sportswriter is a fantastic book. There are a few in that article I haven't gotten to yet. My three, off the top of my head, and not in order: You Gotta Have Wa, by Robert Whiting; Paper Lion, George Plimpton and The Iowa Baseball Confederacy by WP Kinsella. So many others, though. (Ken Dryden's The Game is worth hunting down, and if you ever get the chance to read the abovementioned The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, do it. It's grgeous writing.)

posted by chicobangs at 02:44 PM on January 12, 2005

Ball Four Almost seems like fiction these days...and surprisingly (or not so) is not as different as this book as you may think: The Glory of Their Times any of Roger Angell's books any book by Robert Creamer the collection of the You Know Me Al stories by Ring Lardner

posted by NYSSoftballBlue at 03:22 PM on January 12, 2005

Dryden's The Game is great. Wonder if it will make the Observer's list. I'd say it might be as likely as a cricket book making a similar list in the NYT but if they do pick one ice hockey book then that is likely the one to pick. Fever Pitch is essential. Among the Thugs is pretty interesting. And as long as we're talking cricket books I'll also suggest Balham to Bollywood which is an entertaining account of a amatuer cricketer's role in a huge Bollywood film as... a colonial British cricketer. He uses the experience as his one chance to keep a cricketer's tour diary and details his experience on the film and attempts to have a match between the Brits and the Indians.

posted by gspm at 04:34 PM on January 12, 2005

Didn't we do a thread on books a month or so back?

posted by billsaysthis at 04:37 PM on January 12, 2005

Yes Bill we did, but you can't have enough book threads so here's mine. 1 Train Pete Dexter 2 All Played Out Pete Davies 3 A Season With Verona Tim Parks American Pastoral, does that count as a sports book, or The World According To Garp? Also, Bill, if you send your choices in to the Observer, you might win something.

posted by Fat Buddha at 05:36 PM on January 12, 2005

I take exception to gspm's comment that Fever Pitch is essential, it is inessential: in fact if there was a worst book poll I would vote for it.

posted by Fat Buddha at 05:50 PM on January 12, 2005

1. All Played Out - Pete Davies 2. Winning Isn't Everything - Dave Bowler 3. Tales From The Boot Camps - Steve Claridge And honourable mentions for Bill Buford's Among The Thugs and Tim Parks' A Season With Verona which would have made the top three if he didn't keep going off on some poetic, arty trip.

posted by squealy at 06:41 PM on January 12, 2005

Actually, thinking about it, swap Buford and Claridge. Claridge's book is amusing but Buford's is enthralling.

posted by squealy at 07:01 PM on January 12, 2005

I agree with Fat Buddha on Fever Pitch. I loved all of Nick Hornby's books, but I couldn't get thru that one. Maybe it's cuz I'm not a soccer fan. It'll be interesting to see how the movie translates the book to a baseball theme. Speaking of Baseball books - three of my favorites (in no particular order): Nine Innings - Dan Okrent: An interesting account of one game in 1982, albeit a bit Brewers-centric Fair Ball - Bob Costas: He makes some interesting ideas on how to "fix" baseball Moneyball - Michael Lewis: Forget all the hullabaloo about whether "Moneyball" is a better way to play - it's a great character study on Billy Beane anyway.

posted by brewdudepa at 07:48 PM on January 12, 2005

well it gave ME an entertaining insight in what it is like to be a soccer fan. maybe essential is too strong. i would recommend it but of course others would recommend against it. i haven't read all that many sports books (i recall reading a guy lafleur biography when I was like 10 but I have excluded that from any consideration because i can't recall it) so maybe upon reading more i'd get a better sense of what I have rated. but i do know I would reread all of the four books I mentioned.

posted by gspm at 08:49 PM on January 12, 2005

I've cited these here before, I think . . . I agree with their offering of The Fight, by Norman Mailer. Ali-Foreman. Read it even if you hate, or think you hate, Mailer. Great quotations everywhere, eg at a press conference, Kinchasa: Sportswriter: "Do you think you'll knock out Ali?" Foreman: "I'd like to." Levels of the Game, by John McPhee. Point-by-point story of late sixties tennis match between Arthur Ashe and a white guy. A Sense of Where You Are, also by McPhee. Bill Bradley's amazing senior season at Princeton. A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace. The tennis essays are terrific and humbling. I know I'm forgetting good ones. Does stuff like Into Thin Air count?

posted by jason streed at 08:49 PM on January 12, 2005

Prophet of the Sandlots by Mark Winegardner The Pitch That Killed by Mike Sowell Veeck as in Wreck by Bill Veeck and Ed Linn Loose Balls by Terry Pluto

posted by spira at 02:30 AM on January 13, 2005

Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract Christopher Hilton's biography of Ayrton Senna The aforementioned Moneyball I have "Veeck as in Wreck" here. Picked it up for 10 cents at a used bookstore! Not read it yet though.

posted by Drood at 03:04 AM on January 13, 2005

I loved Fever Pitch, but it can't be read like Honby's novels because it isn't fiction. And laugh if you will, but I liked the film too. Among the Thugs was a favourite of mine; however, as much I love reading (self-link), I rarely choose sport-related books unless they are recommended by someone. To that end I am bookmarking this thread.

posted by scully at 09:58 AM on January 13, 2005

Is that an old fashioned telephone box you are standing in front of terrapin?

posted by Fat Buddha at 12:22 PM on January 13, 2005

Four I really like: The Jordan Rules by Sam Smith Mad as Hell by Mike Lupica Personal Fouls by Peter Golenbock A Season on the Brink by John Feinstein And I will confess that I read and actually enjoyed Bad as I Wanna Be by Dennis Rodman. Once you get past everything about Madonna and stuff like that (which isn't even a majority of the book), his thoughts on the game of basketball and his early life are pretty interesting.

posted by Sister Havana at 12:52 PM on January 13, 2005

FB: yes. yes, it is.

posted by scully at 08:27 AM on January 19, 2005

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