Though sports is among the most contemporary of things, being both widely participatory and widely anticipatory—looking forward to the Big Game?—when it comes to publishing, it is very much about the past, the long view. We cherish the judgments of history and the perspectives of the great. This season is no different.
One book that will be in the news, probably next week, is Mike Piazza’s Long Shot. The former Dodger and Met, considered by many the greatest hitting catcher of all time, missed out on the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, as rumors of his possible steroid use circulated. But the well-liked and articulate Piazza is said to deny such use explicitly in the book, for the first time. Another player who was a legend (and a scandal) in New York was Dwight Gooden. The former flame-throwing phenom (he was the best pitcher in baseball at age 19), had success early, then drug problems, followed by recovery. Doc: A Memoir is his story. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays get their due—the two greatest center fielders, perhaps—in Allen Barra’s Mickey and Willie: The Parallel Lives of Baseball’s Golden Age.
A look a lot further back than the 1950s and ’60s is afforded readers in Edward Achorn’s Summer of Beer and Whiskey, which takes a look at the 19th-century’s beer-brewing (and colorful) owner of the St. Louis Browns, Chris von der Ahe, who was the first to sell hot dogs at the ball park; who kept ticket prices low so as to encourage more beer sales; who endured a fire at his ball park; who was kidnapped and ended up broke. Those were the days.… Meanwhile, in Chicago, another businessman, William Wrigley, parlayed a chewing gum fortune into the Chicago Cubs (and Wrigley Field), a story told by Roberts Ehrgott in Mr. Wrigley’s Ball Club: Chicago and the Cubs During the Jazz Age (the Cubs didn’t win then, either).
Fortunes have been made and lost in baseball ownership; one guy (at least!) made a big score by betting. A Wall Street guy named Joe Peta tells how he applied sabermetrics and Moneyball-like strategies to betting in a Las Vegas sports book—and got a 41% return. I want that book.
Sinful idea. For the more high-minded, please proceed to NYU president John Sexton’s paean to the game in Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game. What is it with college presidents and baseball and God? Yale’s A. Bartlett Giamatti wrote a similarly themed (and great) book (Take Time for Paradise).
Jimmy’s back. Jimmy Connors, who strutted to domination of men’s tennis in the 1970s (he was ranked #1 for five years straight) and charmed the city of New York with his U.S. Open antics, recalls his career and matches and explains his enigmatic self in The Outsider: A Memoir.
A truly great golf tournament is replayed for us in 1986 Masters: How Jack Nicklaus Roared Back to Win by John Boyette. Nicklaus, at age 46, shot a final round 65 (including a 30 on the back nine) to take the classic by a stroke. And finally, women’s basketball coaching legend Pat Summitt, now retired and suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s, takes a look back at her career (with Sally Jenkins) in Sum It Up, a moving account of the career of a tremendous mentor to young women at the University of Tennessee, a person of courage on and off the court.
PW’s Top 10: Sports
Long Shot. Mike Piazza with Lonnie Wheeler. Simon & Schuster, Feb. 5
Doc: A Memoir. Dwight Gooden with Jeff Johnson, Amazon/New Harvest, May 28
Mickey and Willie: Mantle and Mays, The Parallel Lives of Baseball’s Golden Age. Allen Barra. Crown Archetype, April 3
Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America’s Game. Edward Achorn. PublicAffairs, Apr. 30
Mr. Wrigley’s Ball Club: Chicago and the Cubs During the Jazz Age. Roberts Ehrgott. University of Nebraska Press, Apr. 1
Trading Bases: A Story About Wall Street, Gambling, and Baseball (Not Necessarily in That Order). Joe Peta. Dutton, Mar. 7
Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing. Beyond the Game. John Sexton with Thomas Oliphant and Peter J. Schwartz, foreword by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Gotham, Mar. 7
The Outsider: A Memoir. Jimmy Connors. Harper, May 14
1986 Masters: How Jack Nicklaus Roared Back to Win. John Boyette. Lyons Press, Mar. 1
Sum It Up: A Thousand and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective. Pat Summitt with Sally Jenkins. Crown Archetype, Mar. 5
Kinetic Golf: Picture the Game Like Never Before by Nick Bradley, introduction by Butch Harmon (Apr. 9, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0810983601). Golf innovator Nick Bradley uses his revolutionary visual art style and potent insights to guide players to a better golf game.
(dist. by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Doc: A Memoir by Dwight Gooden with Jeff Johnson (May 28, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0544027022). A clean and sober Dwight Gooden, who burst onto the scene as a dominating 19-year-old pitcher with a rising fastball and big curve, and who helped lead the 1986 bad-boy New York Mets to a World Series win, shares the most intimate moments of his successes and very public failures, from endless self-destructive drug binges to three World Series rings—and a no-hitter while pitching for the Yankees. 60,000-copy announced first printing.
Atlantic Monthly/Grove Press
Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball’s Color Line by Tom Dunkel (Apr. 2, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0802120120). Award-winning journalist Tom Dunkel tells the fascinating story of the forgotten team that broke baseball’s color line during the Great Depression—an integrated semi-pro team from Bismarck, N.Dak., a decade before Jackie Robinson.
Playing with Purpose: Mariano Rivera: The Closer Who Got Saved by Jesse Florea with Mike Yorkey (Mar. 1, paper, $9.99, ISBN 978-1620298213). A biography of baseball’s all-time saves leader, the Panamanian-born Rivera, who returns to the New York Yankees this season after last year’s knee injury. 15,000-copy announced first printing.
(dist. by IPG)
Greatest Ever Boxing Workouts by Gary Todd (May 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1857828153). Featuring a classic group of international boxing stars, this anthology is illustrated with instructive photos of them at work in the ring and in training. Also incorporates capsule career biographies for every fighter featured—Tyson, Mayweather, Duran, Hearns, and many more.
Chicago Review Press
(dist. by IPG)
Half Man, Half Bike: The Life of Eddy Merckx, Cycling’s Greatest Champion by William Fotheringham (Apr. 1, paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-1613747261). A #1 bestseller in the U.K., this biography is drawn from interviews with Merckx himself as well as his contemporaries and competitors to form the definitive account of the world’s greatest cyclist. In the wake of Lance Armstrong’s revelations, perhaps a welcome respite for cycling fans.
Mickey and Willie: Mantle and Mays, The Parallel Lives of Baseball’s Golden Age by Allen Barra (Apr. 2, hardcover, $27.00, ISBN 978-0307716484). Acclaimed sportswriter Barra exposes the uncanny parallels—and lifelong friendship—-between two of the greatest baseball players of all time.
Sum It Up: A Thousand and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective by Pat Summitt with Sally Jenkins (Mar. 5, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0385346870). Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history and bestselling author of Reach for the Summitt, tells her remarkable story of victory and resilience as she faces her greatest challenge: early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Thomas Dunne Books
The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych by Doug Wilson (Mar. 26, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1250004925). The first biography of the eccentric pitcher, rookie All-Star starter, 1970s pop icon, and first athlete on the cover of Rolling Stone.
Trading Bases: A Story About Wall Street, Gambling, and Baseball (Not Necessarily in that Order) by Joe Peta (Mar. 7, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0525953647). An ex–Wall Street trader improved on Moneyball’s famed sabermetrics to beat the Vegas odds on Major League Baseball games—with a 41% return in his first year. Here’s how he did it.
(dist. by IPG)
The Hardcore Truth: The Bob Holly Story by Bob Holly with Ross Williams (Apr. 1, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1770411098). Bob “Hardcore Holly” Howard was a WWE tag team champ and world title contender. Whether as a green underdog are a grizzled veteran who suffered no fools, Holly has been vilified in and out of the ring no matter his role. This is a tale of his euphoric highs and bitter lows, replete with fast bikes, lost loves, and wrestling bears.
The Three Count: My Life in Stripes as a WWE Referee by Jimmy Korderas, foreword by Adam “Edge” Copeland (Apr. 1, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1770410848). This is the career of WWE ref Jimmy Korderas, from his early days in Maple Leaf Wrestling through his two decades with World Wrestling Entertainment.
Heart of a Tiger: Growing Up with My Grandfather, Ty Cobb by Herschel Cobb (Apr. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1770411302). Ty Cobb is a baseball immortal, considered by many the greatest player who ever lived. Yet a mean streak was his legacy, perpetuated by Al Stump’s Cobb: A Biography. His grandson tells of a different man, one who seized a second chance at having a close family— a heretofore untold Ty Cobb legacy.
Great Moments of the U.S. Open by Robert Williams and Michael Trostel, foreword by Jack Nicklaus (Mar. 1, hardcover, $35.00, ISBN 978-1770851887). More than two dozen exciting stories from the history of America’s most prestigious golf tournament, illustrated in full color.
Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game by John Sexton with Thomas Oliphant and Peter J. Schwartz, foreword by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Mar. 7, hardcover, $27.50, ISBN 978-1592407545). The president of New York University offers a love letter to America’s most beloved sport and a tribute to its underlying spirituality
How to Make Every Putt: The Secret to Winning Golf’s Game Within the Game by Joe Parent (May 2, hardcover, $25.00, ISBN 978-1592408221). A simple and concise guide to better putting, by a renowned golf instructor and bestselling author of Zen Golf.
Southern League: A True Story of Baseball, Civil Rights, and the Deep South’s Most Compelling Pennant Race by Larry Colton (May 14, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-1455511884). In the spring of 1964, just a few months after the Birmingham church bombing that killed four young girls, the Birmingham Barons baseball team of the Southern League became the first racially integrated team of any sport in the state of Alabama. Colton is the author of the acclaimed Goat Brothers. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
The Outsider: A Memoir by Jimmy Connors (May 14, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0061242991). A no-holds-barred memoir from the original bad boy of tennis. 200,000-copy announced first printing.
Championship Tennis by Frank Giampaolo with Jon Levey (Mar. 25, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1450424530). Written by well-known coach Giampaolo and long-time Tennis Magazine editor Levey, this book provides a comprehensive approach to developing a player’s game, from skills and tactical development to physical and mental training.
Golf Flow by Gio Valiante (Apr. 6, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1450434041). Valiante is one of the most successful performance consultants for players on the PGA Tour. Here he includes personal experiences and relates insights on working with top golfers, including Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, and Camilo Villegas.
The Victory Season: The End of World War II and the Birth of Baseball’s Golden Age by Robert Weintraub (Apr. 2, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0316205917). The fascinating story of how baseball helped restore America after World War II, by the author of The House that Ruth Built. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
1986 Masters: How Jack Nicklaus Roared Back to Win by John Boyette (Mar. 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0762787814). Entering the 1986 Masters at age 46, Jack Nicklaus was thought by many to be finished as a championship golfer. But, after a slow start, Nicklaus got in the hunt on Sunday afternoon. Shooting a 30 on the back nine, he beat Tom Kite and Greg Norman by a stroke in one of the Masters’ most exciting finishes.
Sportsman’s Library: 100 Essential, Engaging, Off-Beat, and Occasionally Odd Fishing and Hunting Books for the Adventurous Reader by Stephen J. Bodio (Apr. 1, paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-0762780259). Bodio’s famous review column in Gray’s Sporting Journal (1981-1992) included discussions of everything from hook and bullet how-tos to modern novels and science writing. Continuing in that tradition, A Sportsman’s Library features Bodio’s short reviews of great and unusual writing about sports topics.
Swinging ’73: Baseball’s Wildest Season by Matthew Silverman (Apr. 1, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0762780600). Interest and attendance were dropping, and football was ascending. Stuck in a rut, baseball was dying. Then George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees, a second-division club with wife-swapping pitchers. He vowed not to interfere—but soon he changed his mind, and the fate of the Yankees.
The Phillies Experience: A Year-by-Year Chronicle of the Philadelphia Phillies by Tyler Kepner (Apr. 1, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0760342770). This year-by-year history of one of baseball’s most iconic franchises presents the stories, characters, and memorable moments that have defined every season of Philadelphia Phillies baseball since the franchise’s founding in 1883. Kepner is a sports reporter for the New York Times.
The Packers Experience: A Year-by-Year Chronicle of the Green Bay Packers by Lew Freedman (July 31, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-0760344507). This year-by-year look at every season of Green Bay Packers history offers an in-depth exploration of a beloved franchise, including feature articles on the team’s top players and moments.
The Numbers Game: Why Corners Should be Taken, Teams Are Only as Good as Their Worst Players, and Changing Managers Doesn’t Change Much by Sally David with Chris Anderson (July 30, paper, $16, ISBN 978-0143124566). Soccer’s hidden rules revealed— a Moneyball meets Freakonomics for the most popular sport on the planet.
Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson with Hugh Delehanty (May 21, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1594205118). This memoir by the legendary coach with 11 NBA championship rings includes reflections on the alchemy of leadership and team building.
Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America’s Game by Edward Achorn (Apr. 30, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1610392600). Chris von der Ahe knew next to nothing about baseball when he risked his life’s savings to found the St. Louis Browns, the franchise that would become the St. Louis Cardinals. Yet the German-born beer garden proprietor would become one of the most important—and funniest—figures in the game’s history.
Nailed! The Improbable Rise and Spectacular Fall of Lenny Dykstra by Christopher Frankie (Apr. 2, hardcover, $25.00, ISBN 978-0762447992). The glittering rise and ruinous downfall of baseball legend Lenny Dykstra, from the dugout to the clubhouse to the jailhouse. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
St. Martin’s Press
Battleship: A Daring Heiress, A Teenage Jockey, and America’s Horse by Dorothy Ours (Apr. 30, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0312641856). The moving story of an undersized horse who made history—and the two people who believed in him unconditionally.
St. Martin’s Griffin
Phenom: The Making of Bryce Harper by Rob Miech (Mar. 12, paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1250032027). “The remarkable story of Bryce Harper’s unforgettable ride from Morse Stadium to the top of the baseball draft.”—Jayson Stark, ESPN.com
Santa Monica Press
(dist. by IPG)
Conversations with Coach Wooden: On Baseball, Heroes, and Life by Gary Adams, foreword by Eric Karros (Apr. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1595800763). From legendary basketball coach John Wooden’s life lessons and “pyramid of success” philosophy to musings on his favorite sport—baseball—this account chronicles the friendship between Wooden and fellow UCLA head baseball coach (now retired) Gary Adams.
18 in America: A Young Golfer’s Epic Journey to Find the Essence of the Game by Dylan Dethier (Apr. 16, hardcover, $25.00, ISBN 978-1451693638). An account of one remarkable teenager’s solo trek to play golf in each of the lower 48 states—a coming-of-age story and a surprising look at the equalizing power of the sport in America.
Simon & Schuster
Long Shot by Mike Piazza with Lonnie Wheeler (Feb. 5, hardcover, $27.00, ISBN 978-1439150221). The candid story of the greatest hitting catcher in the history of baseball, from his inauspicious draft selection to his Hall of Fame-worthy achievements and the unusual controversies that marked his career.
(dist. by Norton)
The Little Red Book of Golf Wisdom by Niels Aaboe (May 1, hardcover, $16.95, ISBN 978-1620876121). Among the nuggets to be found here: “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.”—Arnold Palmer. “It is good sportsmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling.”—Mark Twain.
Winning Spirit Basketball: Find Your Greatness Within by Chris Mullin with Tom Mitchell (Feb. 1, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1613213131). Written for players who want to gain a competitive edge and a better understanding of the habits and behaviors that are key to an athlete’s success: confidence, communication, work ethic, teamwork, practice and concentration, from the college and NBA great Mullin.
True Blue: A Tribute to Mike Krzyzewski’s Career at Duke by Dick Weiss, foreword by Jim Boeheim (Mar. 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1613212349). Celebrating the life and career of a college basketball coaching legend and the great program he built at Duke University.
Facing Ted Williams: Players from the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived, edited by Dave Heller, foreword by Wade Boggs (Apr. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1613213377). Step onto the mound and prepare for a showdown with the greatest hitter of all time, according to those who would know—Don Larsen, Bob Feller, Bob Friend, and more.
I Should Be Dead by Now: The Wild Life and Crazy Times of the NBA’s Greatest Rebounder by Dennis Rodman with Jack Isenhour (Feb. 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1613210741). “This book reveals the salvation process that Dennis has gone through to give us hope that he’ll make it—it’s totally Dennis all the way through.”—Phil Jackson.
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
Why I Fly Fish: Passionate Anglers on the Pastime’s Appeal and How It Has Shaped Their Lives by Chris Santella (Apr. 2, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1617690242). Life lessons and inspiration from the world’s greatest fly fishermen.
Syracuse University Press
Beyond Home Plate: Jackie Robinson on Life After Baseball by Michael Long (Apr. 1, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0815610014). A collection of the columns that Jackie Robinson wrote for the New York Post and the New York Amsterdam News. The brevity of the columns and Robinson’s vivid imagery and compelling voice make this an absorbing read and one that baseball historians will find valuable.
Rise of American High School Sports and the Search for Control, 1880–1930 by Robert Pruter (Apr. 1, hardcover, $49.95, ISBN 978-0815633143). The history of high school sports in America, from the student-led athletic clubs of the 1880s to the government management of athletic associations in the 1930s.
Thunder Bay Press
America’s Classic Ballparks by James Buckley (Apr. 9, hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 978-1607107255). A commemoration of six classic ballparks.
(dist. by IPG)
Summers at Shea: Tom Seaver Loses His Overcoat and Other Mets Stories by Ira Berkow (Mar. 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1600787751). Culled from 50 years’ worth of columns from one of the country’s most popular sportswriters, former New York Times reporter Ira Berkow brings to life Mets’ personalities and memorable moments from the last half century.
Put It in the Book!: A Half-Century of Mets Mania by Howie Rose, foreword by Marv Albert (Mar. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1600786884). New York Mets broadcaster and lifelong fan, Rose takes fans behind the microphone to give a firsthand account of 50 years of Mets baseball.
How the Red Sox Explain New England by Jon Chattman, foreword by Fred Lynn (Apr. 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1600788024). An examination of the unique affinity New Englanders have for their Red Sox.
Miracle Men: Hershiser, Gibson, and the Improbable 1988 Dodgers by Josh Suchon, foreword by Orel Hershiser (May 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1600788062). Using hundreds of hours of interviews with players, coaches, broadcasters, Miracle Men takes a new generation of fans back to a classic 1988 championship season.
2013 Official Rules of Major League Baseball by Triumph Books (May 1, paper, $9.95, ISBN 978-1600787973). An important resource for umpires, coaches, leagues, and serious fans of Major League Baseball, this handbook lists the dos and don’ts of the national pastime.
Core Four: The Heart and Soul of the Yankees Dynasty by Phil Pepe (May 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1600788116). Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte played together for 13 seasons, during which they helped the Yankees advance to the postseason 12 times and win 5 World Series trophies. The book follows each from the minor leagues to today, detailing their careers and contributions.
Beltway Boys: Stephen Strasberg, Bryce Harper, and the Rise of the Nationals by Elliott Smith (May 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1600788031). An insider’s look at the Washington Nationals’ breakout season and their unique strategy to piece together a contending team. And with the team’s off-season moves, they might well be the favorite in the National League East this season.
Univ. of Nebraska Press
Mr. Wrigley’s Ball Club: Chicago and the Cubs During the Jazz Age by Roberts Ehrgott (Apr. 1, hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 978-0803264786). Chicago in the Roaring ’20s was a city of immigrants, mobsters, and flappers with one shared passion: the Chicago Cubs. It all began with the decision of the chewing gum tycoon William Wrigley to build the world’s greatest ball club in the nation’s Second City.
501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die by Ron Kaplan (Apr. 1, paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-0803240735). Propounding his “small ball theory” of sports literature, George Plimpton proposed that “the smaller the ball, the more formidable the literature.” Of course he had a baseball in mind, because the game’s literature is formidable—vast and varied and often wildly entertaining.
Bridging Two Dynasties: The 1947 New York Yankees by Society for American Baseball Research, edited by Lyle Spatz, (Apr. 1, paper, $26.95, ISBN 978-0803240940). Of all the New York Yankees championship teams, the 1947 club seemed the least likely. Bridging the gap between the dynasties of Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel, the team, managed by Bucky Harris, was coming off three non–pennant-winning seasons and given little chance of going all the way.
Drama and Pride in the Gateway City: The 1964 St. Louis Cardinals by Society for American Baseball Research, edited by Bill Nowlin and John Harry Stahl (Apr. 1, paper, $26.95, ISBN 978-0803243729). By 1964, the storied St. Louis Cardinals had gone 17 years without a pennant. Things had begun to turn around in 1953, when August A. Busch Jr. bought the team and famously asked where all the black players were. In 1974, black players Lou Brock, Curt Flood, Bill White, and Bob Gibson led the team to a World Series victor over the Yankees.
Univ. of Washington Press
Becoming Big League: Seattle, the Pilots, and Stadium Politics by Bill Mullins (Apr. 1, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0295992525). The story of how major league sports finally came to Seattle—and then left after only one year. Stadium politics remain at the heart of Seattle’s ongoing struggle with sports, even nearly 50 years later, as the city vies for a NBA team.
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (June 4, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0670025817). The dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Baseball Prospectus 2013 by Baseball Prospectus (Feb. 26, paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-1118459195). The bestselling annual baseball preview that is essential for insider baseball fans, announcers, and front office personnel.