Sports consciousness in America (and elsewhere) is a mix of hero worship, obsession about winning, nostalgia for the past, and disputation about the future. This season’s sports books represent that vividly.
With the NBA Finals just over (Heat in seven!), the fall may very well see some King James coronation title, but thus far, nothing has been announced. But basketball fans wanting to wallow in success may do as they did this spring when Phil Jackson’s memoir, Eleven Rings, was a bestseller. And they may be in for a good ball feint by respected journalist Peter Richmond. His unauthorized account in Phil Jackson: Lord of the Rings might give a new look to the Zen Master of the hardwood.
Another legendary figure and one-time “straw that stirs the drink,” Reggie Jackson, writes (with Kevin Baker) about the two seasons in New York that earned him his famous moniker. Becoming Mr. October will be catnip to Yankee fans who, by the time falls rolls around, might find themselves getting very nostalgic for the good old days.
Ted Williams, the last man to hit .400, and perhaps the greatest pure hitter of all time, has been the subject of several good biographies (Leigh Montville, John Underwood, etc.). But Ben Bradlee, longtime Boston Globe reporter, may be telling a differently nuanced story about the complex Williams, as it has been reported that Williams’s daughter, Claudia, has spoken to Bradlee about the friction between her mother and father. The Kid is from Little, Brown, with a 50,000-copy first print. Another Boston hero will speak up (for the first time) in Orr: My Story, by the still very popular hockey legend Bobby Orr.
If there is a colorful, sad, and salacious story to tell in sports, it might be Mike Tyson’s, and we will get it in Undisputed Truth from Blue Rider. Tyson remains a subject of fascination among boxing fans everywhere.
Football—with scandal in the college ranks and concerns about the health of players on the professional level—comes in for some hard tackling this fall. On the college game, Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian weigh in with The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football, while John U. Bacon works the same side of the street in Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football. Regnery will counter many of the complaints about the violence of the pro game with The War on Football: Saving America’s Game by Daniel J. Flynn, who will tell us why America needs football.
Whether America needs football, it has had it for some time. And the 50th anniversary of the death of JFK figures prominently in Lew Freedman’s Clouds Over the Goalpost: Gambling, Assassination, and the NFL in 1963, a year that saw the suspensions of star players Alex Karras and Paul Hornung for betting on games and Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s unfortunate decision to play a full slate of games on Sunday, November 24, when the nation was pitched in mourning.
Finally, if it is sports round the clock you want, you can thank WFAN radio in New York. The story of the first all-sports radio station is told in Imus, Mike and the Mad Dog, & Doris from Rego Park by Tim Sullivan.
Let the games begin.
PW’s Top 10: Sports
Phil Jackson: Lord of the Rings. Peter Richmond. Blue Rider, Oct. 3.
Becoming Mr. October. Reggie Jackson and Kevin Baker. Doubleday, Oct. 8.
The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams. Ben Bradlee. Little, Brown, Dec. 3.
Orr: My Story. Bobby Orr. Putnam, Oct. 15.
Undisputed Truth. Mike Tyson with Paul Sloman. Blue Rider, Nov. 12.
The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football. Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian. Doubleday, Sept. 17.
The War on Football: Saving America’s Game. Daniel J Flynn. Regnery, Aug. 19.
Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football. John U. Bacon, Simon & Schuster, Sept. 3.
Clouds over the Goalpost: Gambling, Assassination, and the NFL in 1963. Lew Freedman. Sports Publishing, Sept. 3.
Imus, Mike and the Mad Dog, & Doris from Rego Park: The Groundbreaking History of WFAN. Tim Sullivan. Triumph Books, Nov. 1.
Football Nation: Four Hundred Years of America’s Game by Susan Reyburn (Oct. 8, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0810997622). A comprehensive visual history of football in America.
The Fighting Donovans: The Boxing and Football Family of Mike Donovan, Arthur Donovan, Sr., and Arthur Donovan, Jr. by Art Donovan and Kristine setting-Clark (Oct. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0988996403). Donovan’s colorful recollection of the good old days is as close as most fans will ever get to sitting ringside or on the team bench—having a cold one with Art himself.
Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game by Allen St. John and Ainissa G. Ramirez (Sept. 24, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0345545145). An accessible look at the link between physics and football that will entertain NFL wonks everywhere. A fresh analysis of the sport.
Making the Call: Living with Your Decisions by Lance Easley and Brock Thoene (Aug. 15, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1624167539). What if your life hinged on a decision you had to make in a split second? That’s the compelling story of NFL referee Lance Easley.
Rory McIlroy: The Biography by Frank Worrall (Oct. 1, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1782194309). The fascinating story of one of golf’s most amazing young talents, fully updated to include his PGA Championship win and topping the money list for the PGA tour and European tour.
Blue Rider Press
Phil Jackson: Lord of the Rings by Peter Richmond (Oct. 3, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0399158704). Jackson—the legendary coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls—has told his own story. Now, a different view in this unauthorized account by one of America’s top sports journalists.
Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson, with Paul Sloman (Nov. 12, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0399161285). A bare-knuckled, tell-all memoir from Tyson, the onetime heavyweight champion of the world, a legend both in and out of the ring.
RG3: The Promise by David Sheinin (Aug. 20, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0399165450). An inside look at the transformation of Robert Griffin III from college phenom to one of the NFL’s brightest young stars by the sportswriter who has been with him every step of the way.
Blue River Press
Win, Place or Show: How Racetracks, Casinos and the Lottery Have Transformed Politics, Business and Life in Indiana by John Krull (Oct. 1, paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-1935628309). This book delves into the history of gaming from the Chicagoland area of Indiana to the Ohio River, where gaming revenue has had a major impact on the state.
Everest by George Craig (Oct. 1, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1780973524). Charting the world’s fascination with the great mountain, this photographic tribute takes readers through early expeditions 60 years after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s successful conquest.
Driven by Donald Driver (Oct. 22, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0385349147). The legendary NFL receiver, all-time receptions and yards leader for the Green Bay Packers, and Dancing with the Stars champion looks back on his life and career.
You Herd Me!: Things About Sports and Life I Think but Probably Shouldn’t Say by Colin Cowherd (Oct. 29, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0804137898). From the popular and provocative host of The Herd on ESPN radio—hilarious observations on sports and life.
Becoming Mr. October by Reggie Jackson, with Kevin Baker (Oct. 8, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0385533119). A soul-baring, candid, and colorful memoir of the two years—1977 and 1978—when Jackson went from being an outcast to a Yankee legend.
The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian (Sept. 17, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0385536615). A revelatory portrait reported from behind the scenes of big-time NCAA football: the passion.
Larceny Games: Sports Gambling, Game Fixing and the FBI by Brian Tuohy (Sept. 10, paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-1936239771) unveils the names of players, coaches, owners, and referees who fixed games, with FBI files as evidence.
Every Shot Counts: A Revolutionary Scientific Approach to Improving Golf Performance and Strategy by Mark Broadie (Nov. 7, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1592407507). Columbia Business School professor Broadie’s paradigm-shifting approach that uses statistics and golf analytics to transform the game.
The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling by David Shoemaker (Oct. 31, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1592407675). An examination of the sport, its fans, and its wider cultural impact that “does for professional wrestling what Chuck Klosterman did for heavy metal,” according the the publisher.
Just Tell Me I Can’t: How Jamie Moyer Defied the Radar Gun and Defeated Time by Jamie Moyer and Larry Platt, (Sept. 10, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1455521586). The surprising memoir of Moyer, who at age 49 became the oldest pitcher to ever win a game in the major leagues. Announced 30,000-copy first printing.
Great Day Press
Coach for a Nation: The Life and Times of Knute Rockne by Jim Lefebvre (Sept. 1, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0981884127). Rockne’s journey from immigrant child to Notre Dame coaching legend to revered national figure is a lesson in reaching one’s potential. This major biography describes a changing America and brings to life one of its icons.
Dr. J: My Life Above the Rim and Behind Closed Doors by Julius W. Erving (Nov. 5, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0062187925). A high-flying American basketball legend comes down to earth to tell his life story. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile by Nate Jackson (Sept. 17, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062108029). An account of quotidian life in the NFL from one of the best writers to ever play in its ranks. Announced 30,000-copy first printing.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner Books
The Best American Sports Writing 2013, edited by J. R. Moehringer; series editor Glenn Stout (Oct. 8, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0547884608). The Best American Sports Writing gathers the very best from sports journalists from the past year. Announced 25,000-copy first printing.
Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football by Nicholas Dawidoff (Nov. 19, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0316196796). The definitive portrait of professional football’s hidden world, as told by the writer who saw it all firsthand. Announced 75,000-copy first printing.
The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams by Ben Bradlee (Dec. 3, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0316614351). An epic biography of the Splendid Splinter witten by a Pulitzer Prize–winning Boston Globe reporter. Announced 50,000-copy first printing.
The 34-Ton Bat: The Story of Baseball as Told Through Bobbleheads, Cracker Jacks, Jockstraps, Eye Black, and 375 Other Strange and Unforgettable Objects by Steve Rushin (Oct. 15, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0316200936). An unorthodox history of baseball told through the stories of the game’s objects, equipment—and characters. Announced 20,000-copy first printing.
The Last Cowboy: A Life of Tom Landry by Mark Ribowsky (Nov. 4, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0871403339). A biography of football’s quintessential coach, his team, and the league he helped create.
All American: Two Young Men, the Most Watched Army–Navy Game of the Decade, and the War They Fought in Iraq by Steve Eubanks (Nov. 12, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0062202802). Eubanks tells a masterful story about how Americans play and how they fight, and also tells the story of two extraordinary people from two extraordinary institutions. Announced 50,000-copy first printing.
Robert Griffin III: Football, Faith, and Leadership by Ted Kluck, foreword by Jim Kelly (Aug. 6, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1595555748). Griffin is a Heisman winner, team captain of the Washington Redskins, and NFL Rookie of the Year. Just 22 years old, he has begun his ascent as a NFL quarterback and living testimony of Christian faith.
The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance by David Epstein (Aug. 1, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1591845119). A controversial exploration of the genetic underpinnings of athletic success
Clemente: The True Legacy of an Undying Hero by the Clemente family (Sept. 24, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-0451419033). Clemente rose to be one of the greatest baseball players of his time as well as a humanitarian and family man, as evidenced in this family memoir.
hoop by Robin Layton, foreword by Jerry West (Sept. 24, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1576876718). From urban playgrounds to smalltown alleyways and windswept barnyards, basketball is a universal American experience and worldwide cultural touchstone. Photojournalist Layton captures that shared community, as well as the diversity and astonishing beauty.
Orr: My Story by Bobby Orr (Oct. 15, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0399161759). One of the greatest hockey players of all time breaks his silence in this memoir.
The War on Football: Saving America’s Game by Daniel J Flynn (Aug. 19, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1621571551). In The War on Football: Saving America’s Game, Flynn argues with those who feel the game is in trouble and needs major reform. Announced 60,000-copy first printing.
The Essential Sheehan: 30 Years of Running Wisdom from the Legendary George Sheehan by George Sheehan (Nov. 5, paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1609619329). A thought-provoking collection of essays by a pioneer of the 1960s fitness movement.
Qaddafi’s Point Guard: The Incredible Story of a Professional Basketball Player Trapped in Libya’s Civil War by Alex Owumi and Daniel Paisner (Oct. 1, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1609615161). The personal story of a Nigerian-American basketball player who played for Libyan president Muammar Qaddafi’s Al-Nasr team. A moving story about conflict (cultural, political, and military), and triumph.
The History of Cycling in Fifty Bikes: From the Velocipede to the Pinarello: The Bicycles That Have Shaped the World by Tom Ambrose (Oct. 15, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1623361310). The retelling of the bicycle’s 200-year history through 50 of its most important and interesting models, includes 150 beautiful color photographs. This book explores how these machines shaped the world and democratized transport.
Unbeatable: Notre Dame’s 1988 Championship and the Last Great College Football Season by Jerry Barca (Aug. 13, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1250024831). The story of perhaps the best undefeated team in the history of college football.
St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne
The Agent: My 40-Year Career Making Deals and Changing the Game by Leigh Steinberg, with Michael Arkush (Jan. 21, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1250030429). The real-life Jerry Maguire, sports superagent Steinberg takes us behind the scenes of his game-changing career in the high-stakes world of professional sports.
The Kids Got It Right: How the Texas All-Stars Kicked Down Racial Walls by Jim Dent (Aug. 20, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1250007858). The author of The Junction Boys pens the story of Texas high school football integration and the three men who put together a championship team
The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on American Society by Gregg Easterbrook (Oct. 1, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1250011718). The author of the popular ESPN.com blog “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” (with 2.4 million unique page hits per month) takes on football’s place in American society
The Way of Judo: A Portrait of Jigoro Kano and His Students by John Stevens (Aug. 13, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1590309162). This is the only story of this famous judo teacher that includes both the biography of Kano and a survey of his fascinating and, in some cases, notorious students.
Simon & Schuster
Their Life’s Work: The Brotherhood of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers by Gary M. Pomerantz (Oct. 29, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1451691627). With immersive reporting, respect, and honesty, Pomerantz tells the full story of the greatest dynasty in football history—the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football by John U. Bacon (Sept. 3, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1476706436). For the millions of fans who celebrate the game-day heroics of the student athletes who give college football its heart and soul, Bacon’s Fourth and Long provides an unvarnished look at the present and future of the game.
Sleeping Bear Press
W Is for Wrigley: The Friendly Confines Alphabet by Brad Herzog, illus. by John Hanley (Aug. 1, hardcover, $16.95, ISBN 978-1585368167). Fans of baseball will celebrate the 2014 Centennial of Wrigley Field with this A–Z tour of the Friendly Confine’s history, players, features, and momentous events.
Sports Illustrated Baseball’s Greatest by editors of Sports Illustrated (Oct. 8, hardcover, $32.95, ISBN 978-1618930552). Announced 120,000-copy first printing.
The Rivalry Heard ‘Round the World: The Dodgers-Giants Feud from Coast to Coast by Joe Konte (Sept. 3, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1613213995). The coast-to-coast history of baseball’s most storied rivalry.
Clouds over the Goalpost: Gambling, Assassination, and the NFL in 1963 by Lew Freedman (Sept. 3, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1613213988). A season that the NFL would never forget in a year that America will never forget.
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs by Ira Berkow (Jan. 7, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-1584799153). Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field.
Syracuse Univ. Press
Sport and the Shaping of Italian American Identity by Gerald Gems (Oct. 1, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-0815633419)represents an interdisciplinary analysis of the role of sport in the formation of an ethnic identity and the transition in that identity across four generations. It portrays the struggles, the triumphs, and the ambiguities of the assimilation process.
Temple University Press
Never Easy, Never Pretty: The Story of the 2012 Ravens by Dean Bartoli Smith (Sept. 2, paper, $24.50, ISBN 978-1439911075). The story of the Baltimore Ravens, 2012 Super Bowl Champions, told through the cultural lens of a city with a rich football history
Time Home Entertainment
Golf Magazine’s Play Like a Pro: 30 Must-Have Moves from Golf’s Greatest Players and How to Master Them by Golf magazine (Oct. 22, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1603202398). Announced 50,000-copy first printing.
Imus, Mike and the Mad Dog, & Doris from Rego Park: The Groundbreaking History of WFAN by Tim Sullivan (Nov. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1600788284). A behind-the-scenes look at the most powerful voices on New York’s AM dial, this is the all-encompassing history of WFAN. Created in 1987, WFAN was the nation’s first 24-hour, all- sports radio station, and 25 years later it is the highest-rated station in New York.
We Are Penn State: The Remarkable Journey of the 2012 Nittany Lions by Lou Prato, foreword by Bill O’Brien (Sept. 1, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1600788628). Perhaps no college football program has ever had to deal with the obstacles, hostility, and challenges encountered by the players and coaches of the 2012 Penn State Nittany Lions in the wake of the sex abuse scandal and the death of Joe Paterno. This book is an account of a season in which the team, under coach O’Brien, rebounded from a disillusioning 0-2 start.
If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the New York Giants’ Sidelines, Locker Room, and Press Box by Ernie Palladino, foreword by John Mara (Oct. 1, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1600788772). Chronicling what can arguably be called the most productive years in New York Giants football—with nine playoff appearances and two Super Bowl titles—this is an insiders account of the past 20 years of the team’s history.
When Football Went to War by Todd Anton and Bill Nowlin, foreword by Drew Brees (Oct. 1, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1600788451). More than any other sport, professional football contributed fighting men to the battles of World War II, and the 22 or so players or former players that lost their lives are among the riveting stories told in this tribute to football’s war heroes.
The Foundation: Urban Meyer’s Inspired Leadership and a New Era at Ohio State by Bill Rabinowitz (Nov. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1600789052). Ohio State University’s remarkable 2012 season—and the beginning of a new era at the Big Ten school—are recalled in this fascinating account.
Autumns in the Garden: The Coach of Camelot and Other Knicks Stories by Ira Berkow (Oct. 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1600788666). Featuring 25 years of columns from one of New York’s most popular sportswriters, this collection will delight Knickerbocker fans of all ages.
“Then Russell Said to Bird...”: The Greatest Celtics Stories Ever Told by Donald Hubbard (Oct. 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1600788512). Whether heard inside the Boston Celtics locker room or on the basketball court, conversations from the long history of the revered team are recorded in this unique collection of insider accounts.
Wrigley Field: The Centennial: 100 Years at the Friendly Confines by Les Krantz (Nov. 1, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1600788345). Originally called Weeghman Park, Wrigley Field hosted its first game in 1914, and the 2014 season marks the 100th anniversary of baseball’s second oldest ballpark.
The Athlete’s Cookbook: A Nutritional Program to Fuel the Body for Peak Performance and Rapid Recovery by Brett Stewart and Corey Irwin (Aug. 13, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1612432304). Contains recipes for over 100 nutritionally balanced dishes, each aimed at reaching specific athletic goals.
Univ. Press of Kentucky
The Prince of Jockeys: The Life of Isaac Burns Murphy by Pellom McDaniels (Oct. 1, hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-0813142715). Murphy (1861–1896) was one of the most dynamic jockeys of his era. Still considered one of the finest riders of all time, Murphy was the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times, and his 44% winning percentage remains unmatched.
Univ. of Nebraska Press
Billy “the Hill” and the Jump Hook: The Autobiography of a Forgotten Basketball Legend by Billy McGill with Eric Brach (Nov. 1, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0803246874). The story of Billy “the Hill” McGill, who set the still-unbroken collegiate scoring record for big men with an outstanding 38.8 points per game and then faded away into oblivion, underpaid, nearly forgotten, and barely able to survive.