Every once in a while, I'm asked by someone who knows I read a lot of sports books for tips on gifts for friends. If I can help them out, I can help out readers here too.
Here are some of the good ones I've read in 2015. The comments are brief and to the point; you can go to my blog by hitting the link on each book title for a longer review:
Super Bowl Gold: I literally finished this one tonight, and it's a beauty. Every game gets some interesting text and great photographs, with some extra stories added as a bonus.
Pop Warner: Local football writer Jeff Miller lives just down the road from the grave of the legendary Pop Warner in Springville, and decided there was a need for a good, to-the-point biography. Good move.
Hockey Night Fever: This was a big surprise. I wasn't expected much of a book that crammed all of the hockey news of the Seventies into one book. But Stephen Cole makes it work well, centering on the Bruins, Flyers and Canadiens of that era.
The Game: Jon Pessah clearly had good access to Bud Selig and people around the New York Yankees, and he covers the recent history of both here. There's a lot of material here, and much of it is on business-related issues, but it's very well done.
The Secret of Golf: Joe Posnanski is one of the most popular sportswriters in the business. Not only is he very good with language, but he shows the soft spot in his heart frequently. Posnanski writes here about the rivalry between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus, and does it with affection.
Pedro: Pedro Martinez might be one of the few pitchers who was part artist, part diva. He also was brilliant at his craft, and that made him a pure and simple pleasure to watch. Martinez doesn't hold back here, and it's not easy to look away.
Ty Cobb - A Terrible Beauty: Charles Leerhsen gets plenty of credit for writing a book about one of the legends of baseball, and going out of his way to fill in the missing blanks on his life. This is easily the most complete picture we've had of this complicated man, who was simplified too often in other accounts.
Pete Rose - An American Dilemna: Written in 2014, I got around to it early in 2015. Rose continues to fascinate us, even 20 years or so after his playing days ended. This is a full and slightly sympathetic version of his life by Kostya Kennedy, who has done some other fine work.
There are two other books worth mentioning, which I hope to read before the end of 2015. If you remember Phil Ranallo, a sports columnist for the Courier-Express, you'll be interested that son Paul has put together a collection of columns called "What's New, Harry?" I got to know Phil just a little near the end of his career, and he was one of the good guys. Then there's "Best American Sports Writing 2015." I've never missed an edition in the series' 25 years, and I always know when I open it I'll get something good.
--- Budd Bailey