New titles explore the art, science, history, and business of baseball and other popular American sports.
Baseball is the centerpiece of this spring’s sports titles, with big-name memoirs and bios lining up alongside stories of how the business end of things gets done.
Two of the big memoirs are from opposite sides of home plate: Jorge Posada’s The Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes covers the New York Yankees catcher’s 17 years in the Bronx, as well as his childhood in Puerto Rico. Then there’s Pedro, by Pedro Martinez, a memoir from the three-time Cy Young Award–winning pitcher, who was just inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is promising a “bold, no-holds barred” account of his life and career.
Another fiery personality is revisited in Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty by Charles Leerhsen, in which Leerhsen sets out to discover whether Cobb really was, as the common wisdom now holds, a bitter, woman-hating racist.
Kent Babb’s Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson tells the story of the former pro basketball player whose on-court brilliance was matched by his troubled personal life.
The latest from Steve Kettman, Baseball Maverick: How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets, tracks how Alderson, who was in charge of the Oakland A’s during the original moneyball days, applied his management philosophy to an ailing New York Mets.
Jon Pessah’s The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers offers another look at the business side of sports, focusing on just how dramatically baseball has changed in the past 20 years.
The early 1980s are the backdrop of two baseball histories. Split Season: 1981—Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike That Saved Baseball, by Jeff Katz, revisits the 1981 season, which was broken in two by a player strike. Then there’s The Pine Tar Game: The Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees, and Baseball’s Most Absurd and Entertaining Controversy, by Filip Bondy, the story of a very YouTube-able incident that saw a game-winning home run nullified because of an obscure rule.
Two of this season’s titles highlight the lengths obsession can drive even the most nonathletic among us. Brin-Jonathan Butler’s The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway’s Ghost in the Last Days of Castro’s Cuba charts the sportswriter’s decade in Havana hanging out with the country’s top boxers and falling for the Cuban culture. Year of the Dunk: A Modest Defiance of Gravity by Asher Price details the 35-year-old author’s yearlong quest to dunk a basketball.
PW’s Top 10: Sports
Baseball Maverick: How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets. Steve Kettmann. Atlantic Monthly, Apr. 7
The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway’s Ghost in the Last Days of Castro’s Cuba. Brin-Jonathan Butler. Picador, June 9
The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers. Jon Pessah. Little, Brown, May 5
The Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes. Jorge Posada. Morrow/Dey Street, May 5
Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson. Kent Babb. Atria, June 16
Pedro. Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 5
The Pine Tar Game: The Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees, and Baseball’s Most Absurd and Entertaining Controversy. Filip Bondy. Scribner, July 21
Split Season: 1981—Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike That Saved Baseball. Jeff Katz. St. Martin’s/Dunne, May 19
Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty. Charles Leerhsen. Simon & Schuster, May 12
Year of the Dunk: A Modest Defiance of Gravity. Asher Price. Crown, May 12
Baseball Maverick: How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets by Steve Kettmann (Apr. 7, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-8021-1998-8) relates the inside story of how the former Oakland A’s general manager, who oversaw that team during the dawn of the moneyball era, turned around an ailing New York Mets organization.
Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson by Kent Babb (June 16, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4767-3765-2) presents a deeply reported biography of retired pro basketball player Allen Iverson, charting his swift ascent in the sport as well as his troubled life off the court.
Slaying the Tiger: How Golf’s Young Guns Took Over the Sport by Shane Ryan (May 26, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-553-39066-7). Grantland golf writer Shane Ryan surveys the contemporary pro golf scene, where talented, ambitious young players are more eager than ever to knock the old guard down a few pegs.
Black Dog & Leventhal
(dist. by Workman)
A History of Baseball in 100 Objects by Josh Leventhal (Mar. 31, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-57912-991-0) narrates a history of America’s game as seen through 100 objects, taking the reader from the sport’s 18th-century origins to the age of steroids.
A Clean Break: My Story by Christophe Bassons and Benoît Hopquin, trans. by Peter Cossins (Mar. 31, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-4729-1035-6) is the autobiography of Bassons, a former professional cyclist whose career crumbled after he became an outspoken critic of doping in the late 1990s.
Joe Black: More than a Dodger by Martha Jo Black and Chuck Schoffner (Feb. 1, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-89733-753-3) tells the story of a pioneering African-American baseball player who signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952, was named rookie of the year, and became the first African-American pitcher to win a World Series Game.
Year of the Dunk: A Modest Defiance of Gravity by Asher Price (May 12, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-8041-3803-1). By learning to dunk a ball at the age of 34, journalist Asher Price investigates the limits of his potential—and our own.
100 Years of Who’s Who in Baseball by Who’s Who in Baseball, Douglas B. Lyons, foreword by Marty Appel (Feb. 1, paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-4930-1015-8). This special 100th anniversary edition of Who’s Who in Baseball provides a retrospective of the annual statistical bible.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Billy Martin by Bill Pennington (Apr. 7, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-544-02209-6) is a sprawling biography of Billy Martin, one of modern baseball’s most fiery, colorful personalities.
Pedro by Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman (May 5, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-544-27933-9). A memoir from the three-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher and new Hall of Fame inductee.
The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers by Jon Pessah (May 5, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-316-18588-2). The inside story of baseball’s past 20 years, and how three men—commissioner Bud Selig, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and union leader Don Fehr—modernized the game.
The Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes by Jorge Posada (May 5, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-237962-7). The Yankees catcher reflects on his life and career, from the ballfields of Puerto Rico to winning the World Series five times.
Fast Girl: Running from Madness by Suzy Favor Hamilton (June 9, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-234622-3).The former Olympic runner and high-end escort speaks out for the first time about her battle with mental illness.
Money and Soccer: A Soccernomics Guide: Why Venezia, Unterhaching, and Scunthorpe United Will Never Win the Champions League, Why Manchester City, Roma, and Paris St. Germain Might, and Why Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Manchester United Cannot Be Stopped by Stefan Szymanski (June 2, paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-56858-476-8). This guide to the sometimes baffling world of professional soccer finance details how only a few clubs can dominate the game while most barely squeak by.
(dist. by Norton)
Gironimo!: Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy by Tim Moore (May 15, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-60598-778-1) describes the author’s quest to relive the hardest bike race in history, the 1914 Giro d’Italia, using era-appropriate equipment (such as a gearless, wooden-wheeled bike).
The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway’s Ghost in the Last Days of Castro’s Cuba by Brin-Jonathan Butler (June 9, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-250-04370-2). Sportswriter Butler recounts a decade spent in Havana, befriending and training with elite boxers who would rather stay in Cuba than pursue multimillion-dollar careers off the island.
Rowman & Littlefield/Taylor
On the Clock: The Story of the NFL Draft by Barry Wilner and Ken Rappoport (Apr. 1, paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-63076-101-1) is a history of the NFL draft, from 1936 to the present, and how the event has become one of the sport’s biggest days outside of the Super Bowl.
Seeing Home: The Ed Lucas Story: A Blind Broadcaster’s Story of Overcoming Life’s Greatest Obstacles by Ed Lucas and Christopher Lucas (Apr. 21, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4767-8583-7). The inspiring story of Ed Lucas, who, blinded at age 12, went on to become a successful sports writer and broadcaster.
The Pine Tar Game: The Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees, and Baseball’s Most Absurd and Entertaining Controversy by Filip Bondy (July 21, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-4767-7717-7).
Veteran sportswriter Bondy explores one of the strangest events in baseball history: the 1983 game between the Yankees and the Kansas City Royals in which a winning home run was disallowed because of an obscure rule about how much pine tar could be on a baseball bat.
Simon & Schuster
The Best Team Money Can Buy by Molly Knight (July 14, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4767-7629-3). An account of the transformation of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2013 season, after the team was bought out of bankruptcy by a consortium led by basketball great Magic Johnson.
Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty by Charles Leerhsen (May 12, hardcover, $27.50, ISBN 978-1-4516-4576-7) offers the authoritative biography of Ty Cobb, the fiery baseball legend who became known posthumously as a racist and hater of women and children who was loathed by his fellow players.
Untitled by Michael Bamberger (Apr. 7, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-4767-4382-0). Sports Illustrated writer Bamberger (The Swinger) chronicles the modern golf era, from the big personalities and game-changing moments to the lesser-known insiders who shape the sport.
715: Reflections on Hammerin’ Hank and the Home Run That Made History by Kevin Neary, foreword by Monte Irvin (May 5, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-61321-763-4) collects stories, quotes, and ephemera celebrating the 40th anniversary of the moment Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record.
It’s Not About Perfect: Competing for My Country and Fighting for My Life by Shannon Miller, with Danny Peary (June 2, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-250-04986-5). An inspirational memoir by multiple Olympic medalist gymnast Miller, from her feats on the mat to her battle with ovarian cancer.
Split Season: 1981—Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike That Saved Baseball by Jeff Katz (May 19, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-04521-8) tells the story of the 1981 major league baseball season, which was halted midway when the players’ union went on strike.
Ben Hogan: The Myths Everyone Knows, the Man No One Knew by Tim Scott (Apr. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-62937-096-5) is a biography of the late golf great Ben Hogan, who kept a very private life off of the links.
Still Throwing Heat: Strikeouts, the Streets, and a Second Chance by J.R. Richard and Lew Freedman, foreword by Nolan Ryan (June 1, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-62937-099-6). A memoir from former Houston Astros pitcher Richard, whose life spiraled into chaos after his career was cut short by a life-threatening illness.
The Win That Matters: An Inside Look at What It Takes to Triumph on the Field and in Life by Mark Richt, with Nathan Whitaker (May 5, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-4143-9188-5), presents an insider’s look at how the University of Georgia football program is run, and lessons from the team that can be applied to everyday life, courtesy of head coach Mark Richt.
Univ. of Nebraska
A Game of Their Own: Voices of Contemporary Women in Baseball by Jennifer Ring (Apr. 1, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-8032-4480-1) offers a history of women in baseball, framed around 11 players of the U.S. Women’s National Team that finished fourth in the 2010 Women’s Baseball World Cup.
The Whistleblower: Rooting for the Ref in the High-Stakes World of College Basketball by Bob Katz (Feb. 3, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-61168-451-3). A year of college basketball, as experienced by the (arguably) least favorite figure in sports: the referee.