February 19, 2002

The Sportspages Hall of Fame: lists what they call the best of the best sports books. Which ones are good? What'd they leave out?

posted by kirkaracha to culture at 06:45 PM - 7 comments

I'm a big fan of Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, which is a great insight into sports fans. (The movie was pretty lame, though.) Walter Tevis' The Hustler is a great look at sports, psychology, and self-motivation. (And The Guardian has an article on their search for the real Fast Eddie...if there was one.

posted by kirkaracha at 06:55 PM on February 19

I'm a bit biased, and I'm not much of a sports book reader, but I'd have to say that A March to Madness and A Season on the Brink are head and shoulders above any other sports books I've ever read. Particularly A March to Madness... Feinstein was on the top of his game there and had incredible levels of access to a fascinating subject in Bob Knight. Truly an incredible read. [Not recommended, except for the most diehard ACC fans, is 'Four Corners', about the history of basketball in the Wake-State-Duke-Carolina corner of the world.]

posted by tieguy at 07:43 PM on February 19

Fever Pitch is the only one of them that I have read. I'm just about to start "Samba in the Smethwick End" which is about three black West Bromwich Albion players of the late 70s/early 80s: Cyril Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson. I don't think autobiographies really belong in the list, but parts of Tony Adams' autobiography "Addicted" are gripping. Strangely, the book is quite banal when talking about football, but when he talks about his alcohol addiction and the time he spent in prison because of it, the book improves tremendously.

posted by salmacis at 04:46 AM on February 20

Wow, that list is really bad. The #1 book isn't even the best book about Muhammad Ali (I'll take Remnick's King of the World). And what's with Plimpton's Paper Lion being left off?

posted by MarkAnd at 11:01 AM on February 20

I liked all the ones on the list I have read: Ball Four, Good Walk Spoiled, Into Thin Air, and Friday Night Lights. I know that horse racing fans are hard to find these days, but I really enjoyed Seabiscut: An American Legend. When I finished, I started counting the days until Arlington Park starts racing.

posted by illinijeff at 11:23 AM on February 20

Bill Buford's Among the Thugs is a fascinating look at English football hooligans and mob psychology. It's an interesting companion piece to Fever Pitch; Fever Pitch is closer to what most fans are probably like, but Among the Thugs deals with a small but violent minority. I've heard a lot of good things about Joyce Carol Oates' On Boxing, but I haven't read it.

posted by kirkaracha at 12:16 PM on February 20

I would put Ali's autobiography The Greatest up there with Remnick's book. Absolutely the best sports book I've ever read is Prophet of the Sandlots by Mark Winegardner. A tremendously interesting book about scouting but also one of the most affecting books I've ever read. Since Halberstam's Jordan book is on the list, I would suggest instead another NBA book he wrote The Breaks of the Game . Terry Pluto's Loose Balls should be on any list as well.

posted by pastepotpete at 01:07 AM on February 21

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