The fall season in sports books might begin with baseball, but the other major sports get their share, as does the somehow unkillable sport of boxing. Highlights follow of books that fans will want to have.
Edited by Peter Golenbock
Union Square (Oct.)
A wonderful and chock-full collection of sports journalism detailing more than three dozen World Series events, from the very first in 1903 to the 2008 series, brought to an end in Philadelphia by rain. Classic pairings are here: Asinof on the Black Sox; Creamer on Casey Stengel; Gammons on Fisk; Angell on Buckner.
The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL on Seven
Ron Jaworski, with Greg Cosell and David Plaut
Jaworski, one-time Eagles QB and now a popular TV analyst known for his mastery of "Xs and Os," explores seven games in which innovations crucial to the development of the sport are on display. This book will be catnip to football fanatics. Want to know how Bill Walsh countered the force that was Lawrence Taylor? It's here. And with ESPN as full partner in the publication, you'll hear about it, straight from Jaws's mouth.
Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series
Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter, and Jeff Passan
Gotham Books (Oct.)
It's a controversial system devised to produce an undisputed #1 college football team each year. It's been around for 12 years and the only ones who like it, according to the authors, are the members of the "cartel" that defends it. The authors' hero is Joe Paterno, who wants a playoff system instead. Chances are, come January, the BCS will be a hot topic and anyone with an opinion will have better read this book.
All Rise: The Remarkable Journey of Alan Page
Bill McGrane; foreword by President Bill Clinton
From his Canton, Ohio, childhood to All-American defensive lineman at Notre Dame and 173 sacks in 14 NFL seasons, Alan Page is now in his 18th year as a judge on the Minnesota Supreme Court. His story is rich, varied, and full of principled dissent. It's the kind of story the NFL could use more of.
The Fire Within
Jim Taylor with Kristine Setting Clark
This is a rough-hewn tale by a rough-hewn Green Bay Packer legend who reveled in the violence of football, social and professional, and who was great in the mud and the cold. Taylor reveals himself as a little sloppy, yet straight-ahead and no-nonsense, as he yields up surprisingly frank assessments of iconic NFL figures like Ray Nitschke and Vince Lombardi.
100 Things Packer Fans Should Know Before
One problem with this book is the first sentence: "Brett Favre is the greatest Green Bay Packer of all time." That's one "thing" Packer fans might rather die before knowing, but it speaks to the feisty spirit of this entertaining collection that may well attract bulk sales to Wisconsin bonfires.
Rise of a Dynasty:
The '57 Celtics
"Auerbach asked Don Barksdale, the second black player to ever play for the Celtics, to check out this Russell for him.... ‘He can't shoot at all, but he's the best basketball player I've ever seen,' Barksdale reported back.
"That was enough for Auerbach."
Box: The Face of Boxing
Holger Keifel, photos; text by Thomas Hauser
Chronicle Books (Oct.)
More than 250 artful and remarkably intimate b&w portraits of people in the fight game—from Joe Frazier and Sylvester Stallone to unknown toilers, cut men, and docs—render a brutal sport in a tender light. Ali biographer Hauser pens a short but fascinating introduction, and the German photographer Keifel credits as his influence August Sander and Irving Penn; these works are worthy of that lineage.
The Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T.): A Tribute to Muhammad Ali
When G.O.A.T. was first published seven years ago—with a heavyweight price of $3,500 and a limited edition—it was a big hit with collectors and hailed in the German press as "a monument on paper" to the great fighter and humanitarian it honored. Now Taschen is making the book more widely available in a trade edition, hardcover, 652 pages, priced at $150—smaller in size but it still packs a punch.
PacMan: Behind the Scenes with Manny Pacquiao
Gary Andrew Poole
Da Capo (Nov.)
Winner of seven world championships in seven different weight classes, the Philippine fighter has an enormous worldwide following; he is also an elected congressman in his home country. Da Capo will publish in time for the congressman's November 13 fight against Antonio Margarito at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tex.
There You Have It: The Life, Legacy, and Legend of Howard Cosell
University of Massachusetts Press (Dec.)
Cosell—a lawyer by training—was as improbable a sports figure as can be imagined. With a penchant for social commentary, a bad toupee, New York arrogance, and a pretentious vocabulary, he nonetheless was part of great sports journalism during a period of social unrest in the U.S. Many of the contradictions of his character and the finer intricacies of his legacy are teased out in this carefully observed portrait.