This June, the Summer Olympics from London will be hard to escape, and there are no fewer than five books in the pages that follow that deal with the history of Olympic competition in one way or the other.
All of the Olympics books would seem to have value, but the one done in association with Olympic Museum in Switzerland wins the gold, at least in this preliminary event: The Treasures of the Olympic Games, an “interactive history” of the games by Neil Wilson, comes from Carlton Books, and features many photos plus facsimiles of Olympic mementoes, some innocent, like rail passes, some chilling, like a police report detailing the fatal hostage-taking in Munich in 1972.
Whether this Olympiad is battered by politics will be a big security question no doubt in the streets of London, but sports and politics have often been inextricably linked. Da Capo’s Summer of ’68: The Season That Changed Baseball—and America—Forever by Tim Wendel revisits a horrendous year in America, with the assassinations of MLK and RFK, and riots and arson in many cities. Detroit was one of the hottest cities, and Wendel recalls the exploits of the Tigers, with several homegrown black stars, who appealed for calm in their hometown and also won the World Series.
One Olympic hero who made a mighty impact on American culture was Jack Kelly, father to Grace Kelly. Kelly was a gold medal winner in the Olympics and later a millionaire, and his life is recounted in Kelly: A Father, a Son, an American Quest by Daniel J. Boyne, via Globe Pequot.
Perhaps the book with the biggest bet laid upon it (200,000 announced first printing) promises to be a story of laughs and good times. Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball’s Greatest Gift by New York Times columnist Harvey Araton tells of the sweet friendship between a pitcher and a catcher separated by a generation or two but united by the game, coming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
John Smoltz, the great Atlanta Braves hurler and now a respected broadcaster, tells his story of baseball and religious faith in Starting and Closing, from Morrow, with a 75,000-copy first printing. Another pitcher, of a decidedly different pedigree, is R.A. Dickey, known to New York Mets fans as a knuckleball specialist but now making for himself a name as a bit of an adventurer. Currently blogging his way in the New York Times as he ascends Mt. Kilimanjaro, Dickey, upon his return, will be talking also about his larger adventure in Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball, coming from Blue Rider Press, David Rosenthal’s new imprint at Penguin.
Bloomsbury will court some controversy with Illegal Procedure: A Sports Agent Comes Clean on the Dirty Business of College Football by one-time NFL agent Josh Luchs, who shines a spotlight on a dirty business.
Frank Deford, familiar to a couple of generations of sports fans, recalls his life in the business in Grove Atlantic’s Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter.
Lynn Sherr is known to many—as a correspondent on ABC’s news magazine 20/20. She’s also active in feminist causes and has written about cancer—her husband’s and her own. In Swim: Why We Love the Water (PublicAffairs), Sherr writes about the beauty and mystery of her favorite recreational sport, swimming.
It’s all about the ball. Most games come down to who possesses it or does the most with it. In The Ball: Rounding the Globe to Uncover the History of Play, John Fox looks at the social and cultural history of play, and HarperPerennial is putting out 30,000 copies of this paperback original.
PW’s Top 10: Sports
The Treasures of the Olympic Games: An Interactive History of the Olympic Games
Neil Wilson. Carlton Books, Apr. 3.
Summer of ’68: The Season That Changed Baseball—and America—Forever
Tim Wendel. Da Capo, Feb.
Kelly: A Father, a Son, an American Quest
Daniel J Boyne. Globe Pequot, June.
Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball’s Greatest Gift
Harvey Araton. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mar.
Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith, and One More Year
John Smoltz, with Don Yaeger. William Morrow, Apr.
Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball
R.A. Dickey with Wayne Coffey. Blue Rider, Mar.
Illegal Procedure: A Sports Agent Comes Clean on the Dirty Business of College Football
Josh Luchs with James Dale. Bloomsbury, Mar.
Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter
Frank Deford. Grove/Atlantic, Apr.
Swim: Why We Love the Water
Lynn Sherr. PublicAffairs, Mar.
The Ball: Rounding the Globe to Uncover the History of Play
John Fox. HarperPerennial, Apr.
The Dodgers: From Coast to Coast, intro. by Vin Scully, foreword by Tommy Lasorda (Mar. 14, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1419703225). The Dodgers at Ebbets Field, the Los Angeles Coliseum, and Dodger Stadium—the past, the present, and a peek at the future. 5,000-copy announced first printing.
The Book of Olympic Lists: A Treasure-Trove of 116 Years of Olympic Trivia by David Wallechinsky and Jaime Loucky (May 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1845137731). From the authors of The Complete Book of the Olympics comes an entirely new take on the games, filled with peculiar facts and trivia.
The Complete Book of the Olympics: 2012 Edition by David Wallechinsky and Jaime Loucky (May 1, paper, $35, ISBN 978-1845136956). This new edition also has every finals result since 1896 and full descriptions of rules and scoring for every event included in the 2012 games in London.
Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever by Jack McCallum (July 10, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0345520487). Acclaimed sports journalist McCallum delivers the untold story of the greatest team ever assembled: the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team, which captivated the world and remade the NBA into a global juggernaut.
Extra Innings: More Baseball Between the Numbers from the Team at Baseball Prospectus by Baseball Prospectus (Mar. 13, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0465024032). For baseball fans young, old, and in between, a sequel to the ultimate guide to the new statistical thinking that’s revolutionizing the game.
The Most Expensive Game in Town: The Rising Cost of Youth Sports and the Toll on Today’s Families by Mark Hyman (Mar. 20, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0807001370). How the business of youth sports has transformed a level playing ground of fun into a heavily commercialized and profitable venture, by the author of the acclaimed study of ultracompetitive youth sport, Until It Hurts.
A Warrior’s Heart: The True Story of Life Before and Beyond The Fighter by Micky Ward with Joe Layden (June 5, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0425247556). The inspiring true story of Micky Ward, the man behind the Oscar-winning movie The Fighter.
Illegal Procedure: A Sports Agent Comes Clean on the Dirty Business of College Football by Josh Luchs with James Dale (Mar. 8, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1608197200). The unvarnished truth about the corruption at the core of collegiate sports, from an insider not afraid to name names. Luchs, a former agent, admitted to paying players, lifting the lid off the dirty business of transitioning talent into the NFL.
Blue Rider Press
Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball by R.A. Dickey with Wayne Coffey (Mar. 29, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0399158155). According to the publisher, Dickey’s book is part The Glass Castle, part Ball Four, as Mets knuckleballer Dickey weaves searing honesty and baseball insight in this memoir about his unlikely journey to the big leagues. Dickey, a lit major at Tennessee, is currently blogging for the New York Times during his ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Blue River Press
Losing to Win: A Memoir by Dan O’Brien with Brad Botkin (May 7, hardcover, $22.95, ISBN 978-1935628088). O’Brien shares his life and lessons learned from a career encompassing instant celebrity, stunning failure, and an amazing climb back to Olympic Gold and personal success. 10,000-copy announced first printing.
The Treasures of the Olympic Games: An Interactive History of the Olympic Games by Neil Wilson (Apr. 3, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-1847328458). Published in association with the official Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, Treasures captures the glorious history of the summer Olympic Games. In addition to more than 200 photographs, the book contains 20 removable facsimiles of rare historical documents including a police report detailing the tragic terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics and a flame bearer’s guide.
Out of My League by Dirk Hayhurst (Mar. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0806534855). Out of My League picks up where the New York Times bestseller, The Bullpen Gospels, left off. Filled with humor, insight, and engaging stories about Hayhurst’s teammates, all with big personalities and given to laugh-out-loud antics.
Summer of ’68: The Season That Changed Baseball—and America—Forever by Tim Wendel (Feb. 21, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0306820182). The extraordinary story of the 1968 baseball season—when the game was played to perfection even as the country was being pulled apart at the seams—assassinations, riots in the cities, a violent political convention. But in the fall, the Tigers of beleaguered Detroit faced the mighty Cardinals. A classic series unfolded.
Damn Yankees: Twenty-Four Major League Writers on the World’s Most Loved (and Hated) Team by Rob Fleder (Mar. 14, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0062059628). Original pieces by prominent contemporary writers on America’s quintessential sports dynasty, with contributions by Jane Leavy, Roy Blount Jr., and Colum McCann, among others.
Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius by Lorne Rubenstein (Apr. 1, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1770410534). Renowned golf writer Rubenstein recalls the times he spent with golf savant Moe Norman in this touching memoir about one of golf’s most eccentric, unusual, and beloved personalities. Norman is considered by many the best ball striker who ever lived.
Globe Pequot Press
Baseball Hall of Shame: The Best of Blooperstown by Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo (Mar. 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0762778454). From the battiest batters and craziest fielding fiascoes to the dumbest ballpark promotions and screwiest fan behavior, a hilarious homage to our national pastime featuring more than 200 stories and photos culled from the classic series, and the first new class of Hall of Shamers in 20 years.
Kelly: A Father, a Son, an American Quest by Daniel J. Boyne (June 1, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0762779291). The son of Irish immigrants who grew up along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia at the turn of the 20th century, Jack Kelly became a three-time gold medal Olympian, a political maverick, and the millionaire father of a princess—daughter Grace Kelly. A classic American tale of grit and perseverance.
Igniting the Flame: America’s First Olympic Team by Jim Reisler (June 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0762778485). The first U.S. Olympic team—a ragtag group of 14 men, mostly Ivy Leaguers, at the 1896 meet in Athens—caused a swell of national pride while taking home 11 gold medals and paving the way for generations of U.S. Olympians.
My Year of the Racehorse: Falling in Love with the Sport of Kings by Kevin Chong (Apr. 23, paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1553655206). The story of a man, a horse, and a foul-mouthed trainer in the (once) glamorous world of horse racing.
Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter by Frank Deford (Apr. 9, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0802120151). One of America’s most celebrated sportswriters and essayists looks back at his eventful career.
The Emerald Diamond: How the Irish Transformed America’s Greatest Pastime by Charley Rosen (Feb. 8, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0062089885). From “Casey at the Bat” to Connie Mack to the Irish Sports Hall of Fame, the first-ever full history of the Irish and their impact on America’s pastime, from its early years to today.
The Ball: Rounding the Globe to Uncover the History of Play by John Fox (Apr. 11, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-0061881794). A popular history of the ball and the evolution of human play and human civilization, in the tradition of Franklin Foer’s How Soccer Explains the World. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
The History Press
How Hitler Hijacked World Sport: The World Cup, the Olympics, the Heavyweight Championship and the Grand Prix by Christopher Hilton (May 1, hardcover, $32.95, ISBN 978-0752459257). Adolf Hitler understood the importance of sports, and this book outlines how he exercised his influence to try to co-opt them for the Nazi cause.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball’s Greatest Gift by Harvey Araton (Mar. 7, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0547746722). A narrative of the friendship that’s developed between Ron Guidry and Yogi Berra as a result of Berra’s annual trips to Florida for Yankees spring training. 200,000-copy announced first printing.
On Par: The Everyday Golfer’s Survival Guide by Bill Pennington (Apr. 18, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0547548449). Inspired by his New York Times weekly column “On Par,” Pennington has created a compendium of all things golf that no golfer, whether a weekend duffer or a PGA pro, can afford to miss. Part instruction, part education, part hilarity. 60,000-copy announced first printing.
The Juju Rules: Or, How to Win Ballgames from Your Couch: A Memoir of a Fan Obsessed by Hart Seely (Mar. 21, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0547622378). The secret of juju from a man who wins games for the New York Yankees in his living room by harnessing juju energy. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
Floyd Patterson: The Fighting Life of Boxing’s Invisible Champion by W.K. Stratton (June 13, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0151014309). The story of boxing legend Floyd Patterson, civil rights activist, national icon, and the youngest man to win the World Heavyweight Championship, and the first ever to reclaim the title. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season by Chris Ballard (May 2, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1401324384). Friday Night Lights meets Hoosiers and Dead Poet’s Society—an inspirational story about an unlikely coach who leads a high school baseball team and a small Illinois town to an unforgettable season.
American Triumvirate: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and the Modern Age of Golf by James Dodson (Mar. 13, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-0307272492). In the 1930s, golf’s popularity fell year after year and was on the verge of extinction as a professional sport. But two dirt-poor boys from Texas and another from Virginia thoroughly dominated the sport for the next two decades and restored the game in the American public’s eye.
Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith, and One More Year by John Smoltz with Don Yaeger (Apr. 18, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062120540). John Smoltz was one of the best Major League pitchers over the past 25 years. His memoir illustrating what he loves about playing baseball shows the strength of his faith, and proposes changes baseball needs to make to become great again. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
La Roja: A Journey Through Spanish Soccer by Jimmy Burns (May 8, paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1568587172) takes us on a journey through some of the extraordinary characters, games, and other activities that have defined Spanish soccer, from the early days when a few enthusiasts developed their talent to the emergence of rival giants, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
How to Watch the Olympics: An Instant Initiation into the Stories, Statistics, Heroes, and Zeroes of Every Sport by David Goldblatt and Johnny Acton (May 29, paper, $15, ISBN 978-0143121879). Another valuable guide to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games being held in London, replete with clever diagrams, witty prose, and the stories behind some of the more obscure events.
Swim: Why We Love the Water by Lynn Sherr (Mar. 13, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1610390460). The renowned broadcast journalist and author explores the culture, history, challenges, and pleasures of her favorite recreational sport in this lavishly illustrated book.
Something Like the Gods: A Cultural History of the Athlete from Achilles to LeBron by Stephen Amidon (May 16, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1609611231). A lively, literary exploration into one of America’s most exalted cultural figures—the athlete.
Fenway Park: A Salute to the Coolest, Cruelest, Longest-Running Baseball Park in America by John Powers and Ron Driscoll (Feb. 14, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0762442041). A decade-by-decade tribute detailing the remarkable history of the Red Sox and Fenway Park, which turns 100 years old this April.
Major League Dads: Baseball’s Best Players Reflect on the Fathers Who Inspired Them to Love the Game by Kevin Neary and Leigh Tobin, foreword by Terry Francona (Apr. 3, hardcover, $20, ISBN 978-0762444526). Top players in Major League Baseball recollect what their dads meant to them growing up and how they coached them to success both on and off the field.
St. Martin’s Press
Sarah Palin and the Wasilla Warriors: The True Story of the Improbable 1982 Alaska State Basketball Championship by Mike Shropshire (Feb. 8, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0312604240). The untold story of Sarah Palin’s high school basketball team and its road to the state championship, by Shropshire, a veteran sports writer with a snappy style.
Santa Monica Press
High Fives, Pennant Drives, and Fernandomania: A Fan’s History of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Glory Years (1977–1981) by Paul Haddad (Mar. 1, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1595800671). A baseball team and its fans in their heyday. Haddad, a rabid Dodger fan, has woven in transcripts and play-by-plays from the great Vin Scully and others.
Mastering Golf’s Toughest Shots: The World’s Best Caddies Share Their Secrets of Success by James Y. Bartlett (Mar. 1, paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-1416206903). From the creators of Think Like a Caddie, Play Like a Pro, this title draws on the insights and experience of the game’s top caddies to size up how to get your ball around a tree and other miracles of the links.
(Dist. by Norton)
Blood Knots: A Memoir of Fathers, Friendship, and Fishing by Luke Jennings, foreword by Thomas McGuane (Apr. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1616085872). “A great book... full of glimmering fishing moments and sharp portraiture”—from the foreword.
Season of ’42: Joe D., Teddy Ballgame, and Baseball’s Fight to Survive a Turbulent First Year of War by Jack Cavanaugh (May 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1616087401). Before hundreds of major leaguers went off to war, they enjoyed one final season in the sun.
The Day a Team Died: The Classic Eye-Witness Account of Munich 1958 by Frank Taylor (Apr. 1, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0285632622). Frank Taylor survived the Munich air crash, and he describes the events leading up to the disaster, the flowering of this most youthful of teams, and the years after the disaster as the Manchester United team was rebuilt (including George Best) and went on to win the European Cup in 1968.
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
The Classic Palmer by John Feinstein, photos by Walter Iooss (Feb. 22, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1584798996). The perfect gift book about golf’s most beloved icon. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
Bushville Wins!: The Wild Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Screwballs, Sluggers, and Beer Swiggers Who Canned the New York Yankees and Changed Baseball by John Klima (June 14, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1250006073). The rip-roaring story of baseball’s most unlikely champions, who whipped the mighty Yankees in a memorable seven-game series, behind three complete game victories by Lew Burdette and slugger Hank Aaron, who hit .393.
Showdown at Shepherd’s Bush: The 1908 Olympic Marathon and the Three Runners Who Launched a Sporting Craze by David Davis (May 31, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0312641009). The epic clash of an Irish-American, Italian, and Onondaga-Canadian that jump-started the first marathon mania and heralded the modern age in sports.
After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness by David J. Leonard (May 1, paper, $29.95, ISBN 978-1438442068). The NBA moved to govern black players and the expression of blackness on the court, and off the court, after the “Palace Brawl” of 2004, instigated by then Indiana Pacer forward Ron Artest.
Taylor Trade Publishing
The Big Dance: The Story of the NCAA Basketball Tournament by Barry Wilner and Ken Rappoport (Feb. 1, paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1589796218). Seventy-three years ago, the NCAA basketball tournament began, with an eight-team bracket. Today, it is covered by four networks, features 68 teams, and is among the most followed sporting events in America. Wilner and Rappoport tell the story.
Ronaldo: The Obsession for Perfection by Luca Caioli (June 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1906850296). A revealing new biography of Real Madrid’s star.
Messi: The Inside Story of the Boy Who Became a Legend by Luca Caioli (Apr. 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1906850395). A fully updated edition of Caioli’s biography of possibly the best soccer player ever.
2012 Minor League Baseball Forecaster by Deric McKinney (Feb. 1, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1600785887). In the first book to fully integrate sabermetrics and scouting, McKinney, a long-term Bill James disciple and graduate of Major League Baseball’s scout school, provides his unique brand of analysis for more than 1,000 minor leaguers.
Can You Believe It?: 30 Years of Insider Stories with the Boston Red Sox by Joe Castiglione, with Douglas B. Lyons (Apr. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1600786679). After 30 years, Castiglione’s radio commentary has become as much a part of Boston Red Sox lore as the Green Monster, the Pesky Pole, and Yawkey Way. In this chronicle, the beloved broadcaster offers his insider account of one of the most dominant baseball teams of the past decade.
Family Business by Ken Griffey Sr. with Willis Ham (May 1, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1600785443). Reflecting on an outstanding19-year major league career, Griffey recounts his beginnings just out of high school and documents his decision to venture into the baseball business, in which he raised a young son, who became one of the great players of his era.
They Call Me Oil Can: My Life in Baseball by Dennis Boyd with Mike Shalin (June 1, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1600786822). Speaking candidly for the first time about his often tumultuous career in Major League Baseball, “Oil Can” recounts a life that began in the Deep South of Mississippi (where he earned his nickname as a drinker of beer, known locally as “oil”), and which eventually brought him to popular status as a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
Univ. of California Press
Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner: Boxing in the Shadow of the Global Color Line by Theresa Runstedtler (Feb. 12, hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 978-0520271609). Most of Jack Johnson’s fights in the Jim Crow era were overseas. This is the first book to trace his star-studded, controversial, worldly life, revealing how racism traveled with the early globalization of the sport.
Univ. of Illinois Press
A People’s History of Baseball by Mitchell Nathanson (Mar. 30, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0252036804). Told with passion and outrage, A People’s History of Baseball challenges the perspective of the well-known, deeply entrenched, hyper-patriotic stories of baseball and offers an incisive alternative history of America’s much-loved national pastime that concentrates on its power relations, and we are not talking about home runs.
Univ. Press of Kansas
Rise of Gridiron University: Higher Education’s Uneasy Alliance with Big-Time Football by Brian M. Ingrassia (Mar. 6, hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 978-0700618309). A comprehensive account of the origins of college football and its role in shaping the modern university.
Univ. Press of Kentucky
The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America’s Premier Sporting Event by James C. Nicholson, foreword by Chris McCarron (Mar. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0813135762). Each year on the first Saturday in May, the world turns its attention to the twin spires of Churchill Downs for the high-stakes excitement of the “greatest two minutes in sports.” Why? Because the Derby’s image—as both genteel and untamed— has been intertwined with that of Kentucky itself.
Univ. of Nebraska Press
Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage, and Assassination During the 1934 Tour of Japan by Robert K. Fitts (Mar. 1, hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 978-0803229846). The story of the 1934 American baseball tour of Japan, written by leading Japanese baseball scholar Rob Fitts.