I SEEN MY OPPORTUNITIES," BRAGGED Tammany Hall rogue politician George Washington Plunkitt, "and I took 'em." The same can now be said about the ever-expanding sports publishing industry.

Since PW's last report in the fall, sports publishing has continued to flourish, stayed away from bad investments—read XFL—and continued to seek new publishing areas in an effort to meet fresh audiences. This time, we preview areas of sports publishing that have not been covered in the past, such as running/walking, sailing and horse racing. We will also cover old favorites, such as baseball and golf, but we'll begin with a sport that has been in publishing hibernation for the past several years.

Basketball on the Rebound

Not since the halcyon days of Michael Jordan—circa 1994—has there been such a plethora of quality basketball books. Back then, all the talk was about the Chicago Bulls' dynasty, the brilliant marketing of the NBA brass and the out-of-this-world TV ratings.

That was then, this is now.

Jordan is long gone (though rumors of a messianic return persist), the TV ratings have taken a nosedive and the marketing strategies of the NBA, based on showcasing the "new" Jordan—as if there could be one—have become a laughingstock. But slowly, as new stars emerge on their own, at their own pace, the league has begun to inch closer to its former self. One measuring stick is the renewed interest of the sports publishing industry. After years of ignoring the post-Jordan NBA, publishers have once again embraced basketball and are prepared to publish several titles, some with huge printings, that are bound to attract attention from booksellers.

"I've always believed in basketball books," says Jeff Neuman, v-p and director of sports books, trade division, Simon & Schuster, "and have continued to publish them through what others considered lean years for the sport. Among the major team sports, basketball is the one whose athletes are most visible, most identifiable—so basketball's a great vehicle for showcasing dramatic personalities."

"I think one reason that such good basketball books are coming out now is that the books are geared for that true fan," says Peter Gethers, v-p and editor-at-large, Random House. "Also, while ratings may be down temporarily, everyone expects them to go back up. I think publishers recognize that basketball is only going to get hotter, which will translate into a solid niche with book buyers."

"All across the NBA we're starting, finally, to see the first light of the post-Jordan era," says Dan Simon, publisher of Seven Stories Press, "with the new wave of bona fide stars starting to grow up and mature [e.g. Iverson, McGrady, Kobe, Shaq]. It's true that this hasn't yet translated into higher attendance and ratings, but that will come."

One of the most prominent titles for spring is Seven Stories'More Than a Game by Los Angeles Lakers' coach Phil Jackson and veteran basketball writer Charley Rosen. And as with most books, there's a publishing story behind it. "Charley Rosen is one of the founding 'seven stories' after which this company was named," Simon told PW, "so most anything he does, I want to publish. Charley's friendship with Phil Jackson is legendary. I suggested it might be time for Charley and Phil to do another book together. Charley agreed and asked Phil, who liked the idea. The unspoken agreement among the three of us was that Seven Stories would offer the very largest amount we could possibly come up with, which we did. Then, if the large house they were in touch with didn't come up with at least twice as much, they'd go with us. As it turned out, the offer they got from the other house was exactly twice as much as our offer, but they went with us anyway. I've believed in the book from the very first word. Everything with them is intuitive. They're always pushing the envelope."

Seven Stories, without blinking, is going out with a first printing of 150,000 copies. Both authors will be touring, together and separately, with Jackson doing signings in L.A. and Chicago and also select media appearances on such shows as Tonight, 60 Minutes II and NPR's Fresh Air. There will also be a PW interview with Jackson and Rosen in April.

Jackson is the most sought-after kind of author because he is a media icon in the top three markets in the country—as a player in New York and as coach in both Chicago and L.A. With this kind of promotional clout, it's no wonder that Contemporary Books, based in the Windy City, also has a title for spring, Mindgames: Phil Jackson's Long Strange Journey by Roland Lazenby. Contemporary ordered a 25,000-copy first printing and has already gone back to press for more. "Jackson is a thinking person's basketball coach," says Rob Taylor, associate editor, "and a very enigmatic figure whose life experiences are perfect material for a biography. He sells well across the country because he has hit so many high points in his career. There is an enduring fascination with Jackson—even among his detractors—and his appeal goes beyond his sport. Many non-basketball fans know him and find him appealing."

Jackson has been fortunate in that he has coached players who know how to win. He had Jordan in Chicago and now Shaquille O'Neal in L.A. Being a very recognizable talent in media-heavy Los Angeles, Shaq, as a sellable quantity, has not been lost on New York publishers. "He is the most recognizable player in the NBA today," says George Witte, editor-in-chief at St. Martin's Press, "the one player with instant name recognition not only for basketball fans, but for many people who don't follow the game closely." And St. Martin's is going headlong into the basketball sweepstakes with Shaq Talks Back, due out in April, just as the NBA play-off frenzy begins. St. Martin's plans to do massive national promotion, including Good Morning America, Prime Time and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. After much prodding, Witte admitted that St. Martin's is starting off with a "six-figure" first printing. "Shaq's book proposal promised an unusually candid book from one so well known," added Witte, "rather than the typical extended press release most books turn into, and I thought the promise of candor, combined with his broad-based appeal, would help us market and sell the book to a larger-than-usual readership."

Baseball publishing has lived on the nostalgia factor for years, as the majority of baseball books deal with the great history and personalities of the game. Basketball, a much younger sport, may be learning the same publishing trick. "There have been successes," says Brian Tart, editor-in-chief of Dutton, "like Bill Bradley's Values of the Game, Rick Pitino's Success Is a Choice and Pat Riley's The Winner Within. These all have one thing in common—they offer advice and reflection as much as nostalgia and 'insider' information. And I think that is crucial to having a successful basketball book. The reader must learn something as he is being entertained."

Tart plans to parlay advice, reflection and nostalgia in Russell Rules: 11 Lessons on Leadership from the Twentieth Century's Greatest Winner by former Celtic great Bill Russell with David Falkner. "Bill Russell is the greatest winner ever to walk on a court," maintains Tart. "He won 11 NBA championships. Michael Jordan won six. I would think every player or fan could learn something about what it takes to win from someone like Russell. I thought this was an incredible publishing opportunity because we would pull in the fans who are looking for nostalgia, but we would also pull in the business/motivational reader who would be interested in his rules for winning." According to Lisa Johnson, v-p publicity at Dutton, there will be a "substantial six-figure" first printing for Russell Rules, which will be backed up with massive promotion in May (during the NBA play-offs) and June (in time for Father's Day), including national publicity, major radio spots and Internet opportunities, topped off with a 20-city tour that will include 20 bookstore events.

With At the Buzzer!, Doubleday hopes to follow in the record-breaking footsteps of the phenomenally bestselling duo from SourceBooks: And the Crowd Goes Wild and And the Fans Roared. Like that dynamic duo, At the Buzzer! will contain a book and two audio CDs featuring some of the great calls in basketball history. "There's no question that we're relying on nostalgia to a certain degree," says editor Peter Gethers. "But that's been a trend for years in sports books—people are always looking to relive their youth. And sports in the old days were simpler and, in a way, more heroic. It's why books by or about Jim Brown and Vince Lombardi and Wilt Chamberlain sell. They were heroes." Doubleday will go out with an 75,000-copy initial printing and will be using Hall of Famer Bill Walton to do local and national publicity.

As PW has noted in years past, there is a steady crossover between sports and business books. Russell Rules is trying to break into this niche and so is S&S with Be Quick—But Don't Hurry! by Andrew Hill, with legendary UCLA coach John Wooden. "A major part of the Wooden legacy is his 'Pyramid of Success,'" says S&S's Neuman, "which he developed and taught to all of his players through the years. In the years since, his players have attributed their successes in life to the lessons he taught them, but none have come forward to write about those lessons and how Wooden put them into practice in his primary classroom, the basketball court." Coauthor Hill, a successful television executive, played briefly for Wooden at UCLA right in the middle of the dynasty, and he's been meticulous in relating the lessons that were at the heart of his success. "Be Quick—But Don't Hurry!," insists Neuman, "is a book for those who will spend the 21st century trying to manage the creative people who will be the centerpiece of innovative businesses, which must adapt and shift in order to grow and thrive." And although Coach Wooden is now 90 years old, he will be promoting Be Quick in Minneapolis the weekend of March 31 to April 2, at the climax of the NCAA tournament.

Of course, to many, basketball is more than a game, and this is borne out in Hoop Roots by novelist John Edgar Wideman, which is scheduled for October. "At the core of Hoop Roots," says Janet Silver, v-p and editor-in-chief, adult trade books at Houghton Mifflin, "is the story of his discovering and nurturing his talent for the game as a boy and why it has sustained him through some very trying times for nearly 50 years. Again, this is a playground basketball book: John learned to play on backlots in the Pittsburgh ghetto, and the game he learned was the African-American game. The style and power of that very particular game changed him and also permanently changed American culture. Because black basketball is his subject, it is also—unavoidably—a story of entrenched racism that encompasses everything from the Harlem Globetrotters to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson." Houghton Mifflin is planning a 35,000-copy first printing and will begin its major publicity campaign at BEA in early June.

In a similar social vein, NYU Press will publish Basketball Jones: America Above the Rim, edited by Todd Boyd and Kenneth L. Shropshire. Bringing together journalists, cultural critics and academics, this wide-ranging anthology discusses how basketball has assumed a role in American culture and consciousness impossible to imagine 20 years ago.

The Horsey Set

There's an old publishing adage that books on the Revolutionary War and horse racing don't sell, while books on the Civil War and baseball do. It may be time to update an out-of-date adage, because this spring horse racing and the equestrian arts are hot. So why the sudden turnabout?

"The popularity of the book and movie versions of The Horse Whisperer and All the Pretty Horses has helped promote the horse in the public consciousness," according to Jacqueline Duke, editor of the Eclipse Press, a new player on the sports book publishing scene. "In addition, this is the time of year attention turns to the Kentucky Derby and the road to the Triple Crown. Another reason is this: Americans are disenchanted with sports stars who complain about $9.9-million paychecks, don't show up for practice and get charged with manslaughter and assault. Horses give their all. They have great heart and charisma, and the people who own, breed and train them often have fascinating stories of their own." Apparently, horses seldom demand to renegotiate the number of oats in their contracts.

And what is the market for books on horses? Is it the mint julep set at the Kentucky Derby or the guy making $2 bets at offtrack betting? "The market," according to Joan Bingham, executive editor of Grove Atlantic, "is anyone who has ever bet on a race, ridden on a horse or caught a race on television."

"I think there is a variety of markets," says Tonya Adams, marketing and communications coordinator for BowTie Press, "from novice to professional, book to tack stores, and we have had great success with all of our equine titles to the special sales market and catalogues."

"Interestingly, the market for our books and others on equine subjects is broader than commonly perceived," says Duke. "The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the sport's marketing arm, recently released the results of consumer research that found there are 70 million American adults interested in horses and racing."

This spring, one of the most talked about books is a biography of a horse. "We are publishing Seabiscuit as an American legend and a fascinating slice of history," says Jonathan Karp, v-p and senior editor of Random House. "The fact that Laura Hillenbrand chose to write about a horse is incidental; she is talented enough to make any subject captivating. Seabiscuit is the ultimate underdog story. He was a horse that wasn't supposed to win. He was too small, too old, neurotic, pathologically indolent, chronically injured—an also-ran who had been written off by the establishment. Watching this little horse with heart keep coming from behind and winning is an immensely satisfying reading experience. That's probably why there has already been one feature film about Seabiscuit and another is in the works for Universal."

Random has a first printing of 76,000 copies, and the book is earning stellar reviews all over. The author will be promoting the book extensively online and at various horse racing sites. Her own site (www.seabiscuitonline.com) has already received 50,000 hits. "This is the most satisfying work of nonfiction I've read in a very long time," says Karp. "It's the ultimate come-from-behind, dark-horse story."

Another book on horse racing demanding attention this spring is The Race for the Triple Crown by Joe Drape. "Books on horse racing have typically been very specific," says Bingham of Grove Atlantic, "certain horses, certain races. Instead, Drape looks at the sport as a whole—from breeding right up through race day, and all over the circuit. He follows the horses, owners, trainers and money through 1999 to see what goes into the making of a Triple Crown winner, and looks at the colorful men, women and horses behind the country's largest big-money gamble."

Grove Atlantic is going out with a 26,000-copy initial printing, and promotional plans include both mainstream and horse racing media. Drape's author tour will focus on the Triple Crown circuit, as well as on big horse racing areas, where he will be doing bookstore events, local television and radio, and racetrack signings.

Eclipse Press, the newest entrant in the horse-race book sweepstakes, comes from pretty good bloodlines with respect to covering the Sport of Kings. Based in Lexington, Ky., the heart of thoroughbred America, Eclipse is the book publishing division of The Blood-Horse Inc. Blood-Horse is the world's leading weekly thoroughbred publication and has been in existence since 1916. In 1997, the company decided to expand its role in book publishing from approximately one book per year to a dozen or more. After looking at the market, they concluded that they could fill a niche and eventually become the leader in this field. They are making their mark with the Thoroughbred Legends series. "The Legends series," according to Eclipse's Duke, "is the first of its kind to pay tribute to individual racehorses. The series evolved from a ranking in the Blood-Horse magazine of the top 100 racehorses of the past century. That ranking in turn led to a book we published in 1999, Thoroughbred Champions: Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century. The tremendous response to this book—it is now in its third printing—convinced us of a demand for more information on these great horses. We haven't been wrong. We recently published our ninth title and plan to introduce six to eight volumes per year."

This spring's publications will include two superstar horses of the 1950s: Nashua by Edward L. Bowen and Native Dancer by Eva Jolene Boyd. The next title, timed to coincide with the Kentucky Derby, is Spectacular Bid by Timothy T. Capps, about the great champion of the late 1970s. Future titles will include John Henry, the winningest gelding in racing history, the fillies Ruffian and Personal Ensign and the California golden boy, Swaps. Eclipse plans to promote these titles with a direct mail campaign and ads in the Daily Racing Form and other publications. There will be author media appearances and signings throughout the Triple Crown process.

BowTie Press of Irvine, Calif., is also active in the equestrian arts. They have a Horse Illustrated Guide series that is designed for beginners interested in the basics—from buying a horse and caring for it to English and western riding styles. Each book is separated into topic sections, making step-by-step instruction as quick and easy as possible. The company's Spirits of the Horse series takes an in-depth look into different horse breeds. BowTie is also the publisher of the GaWaNi Pony Boy series, which includes Horse, Follow Closely; Of Women and Horses; Time Well Spent and Out of the Saddle.

Publishers on the Run

A lot of people think that running books died the day that James F. Fixx, the author of the bestselling The Complete Book of Running, dropped dead of a heart attack in the middle of a jog in 1984. This is far from the truth. In fact, The Complete Book of Running is still in print from Random House and is approaching the one-million copy sales mark—all in hardcover.

To find out about the art of publishing running books, PW went to one of the biggest running publishers, Rodale Press. "It is true that the popularity of running in the United States ebbed in the 1980s, following an extraordinary boom period," says Neil Wertheimer, v-p and publisher of Rodale Books. "But the market for running books remained robust in the 1980s and 1990s. Running never went away—it just declined in public consciousness as other fitness trends rose up."

Wertheimer went on to elaborate about running titles in the new millennium: "Today, of course, we are in the midst of what many call the Second Running Boom, and books on the topic have been particularly hot for a few years now. The current boom is far different from the first, and I believe will be much more sustainable. Today, running is surging in popularity among men and women of all ages, all levels of fitness and all demographic groups. New runners today are running for health, for fitness, for community, for fun. Being competitive is a minor issue, if one at all, for today's new runners."

"Yes," says Becky Koh, senior editor at Lyons Press, "it's definitely true that there was a running revival in the mid-'90s and into the new millennium. I believe one factor was that running philosophy changed somewhat since the '80s. It was no longer considered smart or productive to train by always pushing the body to it's absolute limit. Cross-training, the importance of rest, conservative mileage and varied pace became accepted as the better way to train. I think this new philosophy opened the door to a wider population of runners."

And Lyons Press is trying to take full of advantage, with three new titles for the spring and summer. Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear, according to Tony Lyons, publisher of Lyons Press and v-p at Globe-Pequot, "is sure to become a cult classic for college runners." Marathon Running: The Complete Training Guide is by Richard Nerurkar, the Olympic runner who is one of the most successful marathoners of the last decade. He offers a wealth of information on how to get started and everything a runner needs to think about and do in order to finish. And finally, Lyons has The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running by Adam Chase and Nancy Hobbs. Trail running is the fastest growing area of running, and this is the first book on the subject.

Rodale will be publishing Run with the Champions: Training Programs and Secrets of America's 50 Greatest Runners by Marc Bloom, senior writer of Runner's World magazine. Inside training tips from the likes of Jim Ruyn, Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, Joan Samuelson, Mary Slaney and Lynn Jennings are sure to make this a "must" book for runners.

Running books are also one of the areas of sports publishing that consistently target women (see section on books for women). "Another very important aspect of this second wave of running and a big contributor to the overall number of runners," says Lyons's Koh, "is that the number of women runners has increased dramatically in recent years. The mid-'90s saw an explosion of women runners with race attendance often reaching the 50% mark and women-only races cropping up all over the country. Women are now an essential part of the market when it comes to running books." And Rodale has enjoyed success with such titles as Joan Samuelson's Running for Women and Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Running. Other running titles for the spring include Running 101: Essentials for Success by Joe Henderson from Human Kinetics; Running with Pheidippides: Styulianos Kyriakides, the Miracle Marathoner by Nick Tsiotos and Andrew J. Dabilis, with a foreword by Johnny Kelley, from Syracuse University Press; and Runner's World Complete Book of Running edited by Amy Burfoot from Running Press.

And as popular as running is in the U.S. today, walking, too, is making headway with aging baby boomers, because it places less stress on the joints. "Walking is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. because it's so easy to do," says Lyons. "You don't have to go to the gym. You don't have to change clothing. It fits perfectly into the hectic, 21st-century lives that most Americans live."

"It is easy to mock the idea of books about walking," says Rodale's Wertheimer, "but there is no denying that walking is by far America's top form of exercise."

Lyons Press will be cashing in on this trend with The Complete Guide to Walking: For Health, Fitness, and Weight Loss by Mark Fenton. It is the first full-color book on the subject, and it offers a 52-week walking program to get fit. Lyons has planned a 15,000-copy first printing. Last year Rodale contributed with Prevention's Complete Book of Walking by Maggie Spilner, and this spring Stackpole is coming out with Fast Walking by Ron Laird.

Baseball—Still the Tops

Although there are possible signs of trouble on the horizon—players demanding that their long-term contracts be renegotiated and a possible player lockout in spring 2002—baseball continues to turn out books, rich in history and personality.

"I think publishers are realizing," says Matthew Carnicelli, senior editor at Contemporary Books, "that most readers of baseball books are a bit more sophisticated than your average wrestling-book reader and are looking for books by real writers. There's been a long tradition of really great baseball writing stretching way back to people like Ring Lardner and Red Smith and continuing on with writers like Roger Angell, Roger Kahn and David Halberstam."

Geoff Shandler, executive editor of Little, Brown, agrees: "It does seem that baseball uniquely inspires writers and that we allow writing about baseball to be seen as literature in a way that we don't for most other sports. There's a nobility to the game, and that can come through. And, of course, the best books on baseball are about the sort of things that great books always feature: human nature, character, our choices, our mistakes."

"Aside from its being America's pastime," says Bruce Tracy, editorial director at Villard, "there's an elegance, almost an abstraction, about the game that seems to challenge and inspire writers to a greater degree than other sports. Good books raise the bar for other writers. And the audience is there."

And if you're looking for all the ingredients of a great baseball book—excellent writing, good story, intelligent subject—it's going to be hard to beat Warner's big book for spring: A Pitcher's Story: Innings with David Cone by famed baseball writer Roger Angell. It sounds like the perfect baseball book, written by the perfect baseball writer. Just how did it come about?

"I'd like to tell you that it was an overnight brainstorm that I personally developed," says Rick Wolff, executive editor of sports and business titles at Warner, "but, no, it's just an idea that I've been banging about for many, many years. Everybody knows that Angell is the poet laureate of baseball. There are some wonderful baseball writers out there, but no one writes baseball like Roger does. And, number two, anyone who knows Cone knows him as this very bright, articulate, erudite pitcher who is successful and speaks of his craft like a professor. For years people have thought, 'Wouldn't it be great to have a combination of Roger Angell doing a book with David Cone?' It finally came to fruition."

The book is written in Angell's voice, but he had total access to Cone. And the book pulls no punches. It goes into the controversies that have followed Cone's career: how he mistakenly fed quotes to a newspaper that helped propel the Dodgers past the Mets in the 1988 play-offs; allegations about an alleged rape and other sexual transgressions; and what really happened between Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez at the famous Mets photo day. He also speaks about his career with the Yankees, his perfect game in 1999 and his less than perfect season in 2000. Warner plans a first printing of 100,000 copies. Angell will do the bulk of the publicity, and Cone will also do media as he travels around the country with his new team, the Boston Red Sox. Also, look for a PW interview with Angell in May. Angell will also publish a collection of his writings this spring, from Ivan R. Dee: One More Around the Park: A Baseball Reader.

What are the ingredients for a great baseball book? A great player with an interesting personality. Someone who will promote and is beloved by the public. Did someone say Yogi Berra?

"The story behind When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!," says Leslie Well, executive editor at Hyperion, "is that the proposal was submitted to me by Yogi's agent, David Vigliano. I read it overnight and was crazy about it. Yogi's previous books had been bestsellers, but this seemed particularly special, because it incorporates some of his most famous sayings with his wit and wisdom on life. There are some incredibly moving stories in here that haven't ever been told in quite this way: he talks about growing up on the Hill and having to work hard so his family could survive and about the sacrifices his brothers made so that he could play ball. There's a fantastic essay on his experiences in World War II in the Normandy landing where he almost got his head shot off. And there are some funny, as well as moving, anecdotes about his years with the Yankees and fellow players. Also there's the never-been-told story about his reunion with George Steinbrenner."

Hyperion has scheduled a 150,000-copy first printing and will back it with major network promotion, including Live with Regisand Kelly, CBS Early Show and Prime Time. There will also be signings and speaking engagements and the ultimate promotion to a captive audience, the famous seatbelt greeting/reminder to New York City taxi riders that "when you come to a fork in the road, take it!"

Within the last 10 years, baseball has truly gone international. Teams have opened up the major league season in Japan in the last few years, and it's not unusual to see teams with players not only from Japan, Australia and the Caribbean, but now also from Cuba. Cuban players, some of the most skilled individuals on the planet, have been defecting left and right, as quick as you can say "Fidel Castro." In The Duke of Havana, journalists Steve Fainaru and Ray Sanchez tell the story of Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez of the New York Yankees, who escaped Cuba in a boat. But it is more than the story of Hernandez; it is the story of the Cuban people. "It offers an unprecedented glimpse of the desperation and financial straits of the once-mighty Cuban sports machine," says Villard's Bruce Tracy, "of American scouts and smugglers, and of the Cuban ballplayers who trade in their lives as tools of socialism to test the free market and chase their major league dreams."

There is a lot of fantasy attached to baseball, a lot of Damn Yankees whimsy and "what-ifs" that make up the fabric of the game. One of these "what-ifs" that came true is the story of The Oldest Rookie: Big-League Dreams from a Small-Town Guy by pitcher Jim Morris. Injuries ended Morris's baseball career in his early 20s, and he became a high school coach. Then his students made a bet with him: If they won the league championship, he'd try out for a major-league team. They won, and Jim became the oldest major-league rookie pitcher in 40 years.

"The whole point of Jim's book is that the dreams that really matter are not on the big stage, but the small," says Little, Brown's Geoff Shandler. "It was great for him—a rusty, high school physics teacher in a poor Texas town—to make the majors and strike out some of his heroes. But on the mound, Jim realized he had already achieved his real dreams. He had a wonderful wife and family. As a teacher he had inspired children. And that's a big reason why Jim decided that one season was enough. Though he was signed by the Dodgers for this year, his arm was hurting and he decided that he had accomplished what he needed to, proven what he needed to, and now it was time to go back to his students and Texas. He's really an amazing man." Little, Brown is going out with a 35,000-copy initial printing and planning major promotion. "We'll be starting the in-store book-signing promotion in Jim's Texas hometown," says Shandler, "expanding throughout Texas, with a simultaneous national TV and radio satellite tour. We'll also be targeting the Christian market, where there has been particularly strong interest in Jim and his hopeful message."

Baseball bios can be great reads, like Ball Four or The Bronx Zoo, or can be snoozers, lacking in humor and truth. There will be no snoozing with Zim: A Baseball Life by Don Zimmer with Bill Madden. Zimmer is unusually blunt in his assessment of people, ranging from pitchers Bill Lee and Ferguson Jenkins to owners Eddie Chiles and George Steinbrenner.

"Zim came to us through Jonathan Diamond at RLR Associates, who was kind enough to give us a first look," says Robert Wilson, editorial director at Total Sports. "We recognized immediately that it was something we wanted. Don Zimmer had an incredible story to tell, and Bill Madden is a talented writer. We pursued the project aggressively and made a healthy six-figure offer. We got it. Then, as we began reading the manuscript, delivered by Bill in installments, it became clear that this was something very special. Here was a half-century of baseball history—from Zim's days as a Brooklyn Dodger in the '50s to his years as Joe Torre's right-hand man with the New York Yankees today—interspersed with an abundance of anecdotes that made for a page-turner. Meanwhile, Don's wife provided us with a box full of personal photos, the majority never published before."

Total Sports will be printing 35,000 copies and will back it up with national radio and TV, signings and other media, as Zimmer travels the country with the Yankees.

Another old-timer that baseball still celebrates is Cleveland Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller. This spring Contemporary will bring out Bob Feller's Little Black Book of Baseball Wisdom. "Feller's always been known for a very sharp tongue and a kind of deadpan delivery," says Matthew Carnicelli, senior editor at Contemporary, "so we thought this would work particularly well in a small, gifty quote book. We've had tremendous success with legendary basketball coach John Wooden's book Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, which has sold about 200,000 copies, so we thought a similar format for a Feller book would work."

There are several titles that celebrate what baseball has meant to the soul of America. In The Game: One Man, Nine Innings, a Love Affair with Baseball (Putnam/ Tarcher), Robert Benson explores the game of baseball and the meaning of life and how it affects him and his family. In Covering Home: Lessons on the Art of Fathering from the Game of Baseball (Robins Lane Press), Jack Petrash explains principles of meaningful fathering using stories and lessons from the national pastime. The Final Season by Tom Stanton (St. Martin's/Dunne) is a powerful memoir of fathers, sons and the end of an era, the setting being the final season at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. Broadway Books' The Way Home: Scenes from a Season, Lessons from a Lifetime by Henry Dunow tells of a fortysomething dad's misadventures as coach of his son's New York City Little League team. Along the way it helps lead him to greater understanding of his own 1950s father, as one father-son relationship sheds light on the other.

Time/Life celebrates baseball with a substantive coffee-table book called Baseball: The National Pastime in Art and Literature, edited by David Colbert. This potent tribute in words and images to the magic and metaphors of the game includes writing and commentaries from such diverse subjects as Abbott & Costello, Ogden Nash, Sherwood Anderson and Stephen King.

Other books celebrating the sport's feats and heroes include 61*: The Story of Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and One Magical Season by the Sporting News. Comedian Billy Crystal and HBO will present a cable movie on the same subject this spring. And, finally, the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, takes us on a tour of his life with Ted Williams: My Life in Pictures (Total Sports). Williams is recuperating from open-heart surgery, but his son and daughter will chip in and handle many of the publicity chores.

Operation Pub Sail

Shiver me timbers! That's the reaction one gets when the terms "sports publishing" and "sailing" are mentioned in the same sentence. Although there has been great interest in both the book and movie versions of The Perfect Storm, books on the sea and the art of sailing are rarely thought of as having the same middle-class American origins as, say, baseball or basketball. In fact, sailing is often thought of as elitist, and PW asked publishers if it was.

"Not at all," says Jacqueline A. Deval, v-p and publisher of Hearst Books. "It seems elitist only to people who think of those luxury yachts docked in Monaco. Or to people who don't sail or boat. No, in fact, the sport is very accessible, you don't have to own a sailboat to participate and leasing is widely available."

"Untrue," says Tony Lyons, publisher of the Lyons Press, at the suggestion of the sport being elitist. "Of the 72 million recreation boaters in the United States, only a small percentage are sailors. Nevertheless, there are several million people who sail in the U.S., and they come from all socioeconomic groups. People who sail tend to be fanatics. Like fly fishermen, they want to know everything there is to know about their sport, from practical, how-to information, to history, to the incredible stories spawned by this difficult, often dangerous, activity."

Lothar Simon, president of Sheridan House, agrees: "No, it's not elitist. It's more a question of opportunity, where you grow up or go to school, influence of family and friends. You can sail in a small wooden dinghy or you can build yourself a half-million-dollar yacht."

According to Deval, there are an estimated 17 million boats owned in this country and there was an estimated $25 billion spent at retail on boating last year. Publishers take note—sailing demographics and those of golfers seem to run along similar, prosperous lines.

"There are slightly over one million people in the U.S. who are actively committed to sailing as a sport," according to Simon, "and about three million every year sail at least one or two days. About 10 times that many have at some time or another been involved, in school, camp or college, professionally, in the Navy or some other way. There are many more powerboaters than sailors [about 10 million] and they constitute at least a part of the sailing-book market. All of the above and many others, if they are readers, are part of the invisible army of armchair sailors, people who love boats and sailing stories but don't actually participate actively."

And what are the publishers of sailing books looking for? "We're looking for books that service the serious enthusiast," says Deval, "the person who can't wait to get on board on the weekend. I emphasize 'service' because we're not looking to publish pretty picture books on great destinations. Our market is the interested boater who wants to learn more about his or her enthusiasm."

"Like other specialty publishers," says Simon, "we look for gaps in the market, previously successful titles, a fresh new approach to a topic, exceptionally good writing, a unique story or accomplishment or, yes, a good disaster. Author's name or credentials, estimated costs vs. potential market and acceptable price range."

"Great writing is the most important thing," says Dan Conaway, executive editor at HarperCollins, "not good writing, not solid writing, but genuinely gorgeous literary prose. The story itself is important, too, of course—but for me, the quality of the drama that emerges depends less on what happens than on how richly it's told."

Sheridan House's big books for spring include If The Shoe Fits: The Adventures of a Reluctant Boatfrau by Rae Ellen Lee. This is a story about living on a 37-foot, Alberg-designed, blue-water cruiser, which the author named The Shoe because she felt like Mother Hubbard. It's a wonderful saga, a fantasy come true for many armchair sailors, told from the viewpoint of a reluctant first mate with a candid and humorous perspective. On the other end of the sailing spectrum, Sheridan House is also publishing The Rules Book: 2001—2004 Racing Rules, 7th Edition by Eric Twiname, revised by Bryan Willis. This pocket-sized book is unique in that it covers the rules by race situation. It contains the full text of the new racing rules for 2001 to 2004, including a section on the major changes introduced in 2001.

ReganBooks is publishing A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols in June. According to its editor, Dan Conaway, "It's the story of nine men who set out to sail, solo and nonstop, around the world, in 1968. It had never been done before—never!—and no one really knew if it was possible. This was before satellite tracking systems and cell phones and fax machines and so many other technologies we take for granted now; technologically, these sailors have more in common with Cook and Magellan than with modern sailors. Their boats were crude by today's standards. Only one of the nine men finished the race. It took him over nine months to do so, and he became an international hero. The other eight had decidedly different experiences; in most cases their reward was despair, ruin, even death."

Conaway is depending on author Nichols to make this title go: "First and foremost, you have to get people to think of them as something other than 'sailing titles'—because the range and intensity of human experience that comes through in this book applies to anybody, even landlubbers like me who wouldn't know a halyard from a hand truck. There is, of course, a natural constituency among sailors, and Peter's tour will reach out to a number of those communities."

Hearst will be publishing the 63rd Edition of Chapman Piloting: Seamanship and Small Boat Handling. According to publisher Deval, it "is the single authority about boating—from rules and regulations (which change frequently which is why we update the book every three years) to boating skills and techniques, from how to plot a course and read navigation charts, to communications protocols, the book is widely considered the 'Bible of Boating.'" And the numbers are big for Chapman Piloting. "Based on our copious history of selling Chapman for so many years, we don't print fewer than 50,000 at a time on that book, and we're going to press several times for each edition." Deval adds that "the Chapman brand has been so strong for us that we are spinning out new titles for the recreational boating market, including books next year on Buying and Owning a New Boat and on Cooking on Board, and have other titles in development."

The Lyons Press has three big sailing books for spring. The Sailor's Illustrated Dictionary, an excellent reference book with 9,000 terms and phrases, belongs in the library of anyone with an interest in sailing, boating, seamanship or the sea itself. The Quotable Sailor collects the most interesting things ever written about sailing and the sea in the words of Rachel Carson, Joseph Conrad, John F. Kennedy and hundreds more. And The Essential Boat Maintenance Manual by Jeff Toghill is a full-color guide to keeping your boat in good working order.

Workman/Artisan has Under Sail: Aboard the World's Finest Boats by David Glenn, with photos by Simon McBride. Nomad Communications will be doing Race Round the World , the official book of the 2001—2002 Volvo Ocean Race (formerly the Whitbread), written by America's Cup winner and ESPN sailing commentator Gary Jobson. And MBI has Super Yachts by John Julian, a coffee-table book that brings the reader on a tour of some of the world's most luxurious yachts.

Women's Sports Publishing—Vive la Difference!

Several years ago it was noted in these pages that 68% of all books are bought by women. With statistics like that it's easy to see why sports publishing has recently turned its focus to women. "I think any time there's an audience," says S&S's Neuman bluntly, "you aim for it. Book publishing generally operates on an 18—24-month time lag, from the time you sign up an idea to the time you can get a book out. Two summers ago, the U.S. Women's World Cup soccer team demonstrated that there is a significant women's sports audience, at least for a widely publicized event in which the U.S. is playing for a world championship. So now we're seeing the results of that demonstration in the presence of books signed up in an attempt to reach women."

"When Title IX was passed in 1972," says Susanna Porter, senior editor at Random House, "only one in 27 of our school-age girls played sports. Now one in three does. That's a 900% increase, and it translates into a much-expanded new market of girls and women who have a firsthand experience of sports."

David Hirshey, executive editor at HarperCollins, agrees with both Neuman and Porter: "It's because of a confluence of forces. It's been 29 years since Title IX, and the first generation of girls who grew up playing organized sports their whole lives are now adults. Some of them—Mia Hamm, Venus and Serena Williams, Chamique Holdsclaw—have developed into extraordinary athletes and role models. Unlike many of their male counterparts, they radiate a wholesome, feel-good aura. After years of neglect and dismissal, they have also been embraced by Madison Avenue and the TV networks, the tent poles of any success in sports."

And although men's and women's sports publishing have many similarities, there are also major differences. "Women sports fans are not the same as men," says Neuman, "and I don't think the same approach to sports books will necessarily work. There have been quite a number of books on the WNBA, but have any of them sold? But the occasional Olympic star, marketed as a personality ahead of time, can break through, as Dominique Moceanu did at the time of the Atlanta Olympics, and Marion Jones [in Ron Rapoport's See How She Runs] did last year."

"Now that women athletes are becoming icons and role models," says Hirshey, "good books are being written about them, and I think both women and men are buying them. That said, I think that men and women consume sports differently. Women are not obsessed with stats, trivia and play-by-play analysis. They want a story line, character and nuance."

Hirshey's big book for summer is Venus Envy: A Sensational Season Inside the Women's Tennis Tour. " Author Jon L. Wertheim draws back the curtain on the soap opera that is the women's professional tour. He gives the reader the stories behind the stories: the tragic Garbo-like star who whiles away hours in a Midwestern hotel room because she's afraid to go outdoors; the teenager who tries to cope with the pressures of the big-time as well as an abusive father; the Russian coquette who launched a thousand Web sites, and, of course, a little-understood African-American family who proved that they could play by their own rules and still win the game—not to mention the endorsements. In the end, it is the remarkable story of Venus Williams that suffuses the book." Venus Envy will be launched during the U.S. Open in New York in August with a 40,000-copy first printing. Expect a bevy of national media to follow this unique title.

Simon & Schuster offers something different in Alive and Kicking: When Soccer Moms Take the Field by New York Times columnist Harvey Araton. "This book is an attempt to take a look at the differences between men and women in sports," says Neuman, "by focusing on a league founded in Montclair, N.J., that originally consisted mostly of that group of women labeled 'soccer moms.' Many have successful careers, of course, but the genesis of the league came when women who'd been watching their kids have so much fun on the field decided to try it themselves. The women are incredibly articulate about all aspects of the experience, and the story is both a moving account of their experiences and a thoughtful examination of the issues they raised and dealt with."

And while we talk about female athletes, we must also wonder what they look like. Random House has solved that problem with Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like?. "As a young sports reporter," recalls Susanna Porter of Random, "author Jane Gottesman was aware of how women athletes tended to be ignored by the media and how seldom their pictures appeared in her newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, and saw the need for a book that spotlighted not only our top female athletes but the everyday achievements of girls and women who play hard at every type of sport." Gottesman and photographer Geoffrey Biddle spent a decade compiling over 200 color and black-and-white photos, along with a text of first-person accounts by athletes and a time line of women's athletic milestones. Random plans a 50,000-copy first printing this July.

Golf—Still the King

The only thing that compares with the overwhelming success of golf publishing over the last decade is the booming numbers of the stock market. And although publishing executives don't expect golf publishing to pull a "Nasdaq," there are warning signs on the horizon. But first the good news: there are still bulls patrolling the 18th green.

"I believe that we've seen, in the last 10 years, a major demographic shift in both the number of people golfing and who the new golfers are," says Brendan Cahill, editor at Grove Atlantic. "The growth of the economy in the 1990s, the aging of the population as Baby Boomers come nearer retirement and the dramatic increase in the number of new golf courses being created each day in America all are contributing to this. And you can't discount the Tiger Woods factor."

"Golf has always been a great book subject," says Neuman of S&S, "thoughtful writing, a perceived elite demographic, an older—and thus hardcover-book-buying—audience."

Now, for the bad news: golf publishing must reassess its practices. "I would say, as a category, like many other successful categories, it has become overpublished," says Bill Thomas, editor-in-chief at Doubleday. "And the trick is to be extremely selective in what you decide to publish. Golf won't go away, but there are far too many books." Thomas goes on to point out that the bulk of the problem concerns instructionals. "This is the area where overpublishing is the worst. We have to become very conservative about our instructionals. The physical look of the book matters immensely. It becomes to the serious golfer an aficionado market where editorial and production are increasingly important."

Nevertheless, even with Thomas's caveat, there are some wonderful titles for the spring and summer. Simon & Schuster is coming out with Bud, Sweat, and Tees: A Walk on the Wild Side of the PGA Tour. "Right from the start," says Neuman, "it was clear that this was going to be something special. Alan Shipnuck is a terrific young writer—had his first Sports Illustrated cover story when he was just 21—and he developed a terrific rapport with our heroes, Rich Beem and his caddie Steve Duplantis." The book follows those two through an extremely turbulent year on the PGA Tour, Beem's first year out there. At the midpoint of the year, Beem hooks up with Duplantis, an experienced caddie, and in their first tournament together Beem wins the Kemper Open in one of the biggest upsets of the last decade. Suddenly, he's propelled from the fringes of the tour right into the heart of it." Bud, Sweat, and Tees was published in January and is already in its fourth printing, and Neuman says "it's showing signs of sufficient legs to be included in Father's Day promotions at the chains."

Another golf book with a winning pedigree appears to be Bill Geist's Fore! Play: The Last American Male Takes Up Golf. Geist, a regular on CBS Sunday Morning, had a major bestseller years ago with Little League Confidential. Editor Wolff at Warner is confident Fore! Play has the right stuff. "I just happen to love Geist's voice," he says. "It's sort of a Midwestern, everyman mentality. The inspiration for the book was that he was in his 50s and had never played golf, but in the various social circles he hangs in all the guys talk about golf and the clubs they are playing, etc. He found he wasn't part of the conversation anymore so he had to go out learn to play the game. And it is absolutely a hoot!" Warner plans an 125,000-copy first printing and Geist will be making major promotional appearances.

In the fall, Warner will also present a new Tiger Woods book, but this is a Tiger book with a twist—because it's the first one by Tiger himself. "By last count I think I saw over 70 titles on Tiger," volunteers Wolff. "Everything from instructionals to his rise to the top. There are lot of books out there by his former coaches, his father, etc. This is the only authorized book by Tiger Woods on how he plays the game. It's called How I Play Golf and he wrote it with the editors of Golf Digest magazine. It's going to be a big, beautiful, lots-of-bells-and-whistles kind of book, with four-color throughout, pull-outs, 300-plus pages. It will be about the mechanics of the game, but a big section will be on the mental approach to the sport. By contract he should be doing some promotional stuff for us, and we did a two-book deal with him. We have the rights to his exclusive autobiography, which he might wait a few years to do because he's only 24."

And as Wolff alluded to, there's no dearth of Tiger books again this spring. Doubleday has "A-Game" Golf: The Complete Starter Kit for Golfers from Tiger Woods's Amateur Instructor by John Anselmo with John Andrisani. "It has a target market," says Thomas, "and is the best possible product for the beginning golfer. We expect parents to buy it for their kids. It even has volume for people like me who really stink!" Also on the Tiger Trail, Towle House will publish the Quotable Tiger by Rich Skyzinski, and Hyperion has In Every Kid There Lurks a Tiger: Rudy Duran's 5-Step Program to Teach You and Your Child the Fundamentals of Golf by Rudy Duran and Rick Lipsey.

One of the amazing things this spring has been the number of books aimed at the middle-aged golfer, specifically the over-40 or -50 set. Hungry Minds has one such title, Golf Over 40 for Dummies. "We're trying to meet the needs of the slightly older golfer who may be new to the sport," says Stacy Collins, executive editor at Hungry Minds, "but who wants to maximize their experience and truly enjoy their time on the golf course." Hungry Minds can only hope that this title follows in the footsteps of Golf for Dummies, which has sold over 650,000 copies since its publication in 1997. Burford Books has Golf After 50 by Herschel Sarbin and Jim Brown, which is an all-round guide with tips on technique, health and attitude for the over-50 golfer. And Human Kinetics has recently added Golf Past 50 to its Ageless Athlete Series.

St. Martin's/Dunne hopes to cash in on Bob McCullough's previous "My Greatest Day" successes in baseball and NASCAR with My Greatest Day in Golf. Legends like Billy Casper, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus recall the apotheosis of their careers. And speaking of Jack Nicklaus, Sleeping Bear will be publishing Golden Twilight by David Shedloski, a chronicle of Nicklaus's last season on the PGA Tour.

A Feel for the Game by Ben Crenshaw chronicles how Crenshaw captained the U.S. Ryder Cup Team in 1999 and, faced with a huge deficit, managed to bring the Cup back to American soil. Doubleday plans a first printing of 80,000 copies.

Contemporary has an instructional for women golfers called Venus on the Fairway by Debbie Steinbach, Kathleen Bissell and Hollis Stacy. "This book addresses two important issues with regard to golf instruction for women," says editor Robert Taylor. "Not only are there distinct differences in the way women swing a golf club compared to men, they also think very differently. This book is designed to bridge that instructional gender gap. Debbie's approach is very informative but not overly technical or intimidating. The book is aimed directly at the growing market of women entering the game for the first time." Contemporary plans a 20,000-copy first printing.

So sports publishing heads into another selling season confident that the old staples—baseball and golf—will continue to prosper. But it refuses to stand pat, as it wagers that basketball is set to turn it around, and continues to look for new ways to stay ahead of the pack, be it the phenomenal breakaway success of a Seabiscuit, the American mania for running or the quickly evolving area of women in sports. For sports publishing in 2001, it's full speed ahead.