OT: The Best Sports Books

Submitted by MacombWolverine on December 5th, 2010 at 10:06 PM

(I tried to search the board for a topic like this, but couldn't find another. Sorry if there was)

I'm going on a trip to see some relatives during Christmas and by the looks of it it will be a very long plane ride there and back. I couldn't find a decent list of books to read- and if there was one it was written by some SI "expert". I thought I would ask the forums for some actual opinion on it.

I've already read the Blind Side, Bo's Lasting Lessons, and a book written by Bear Bryant, by the way.

Bonus points if it's about Michigan!



December 5th, 2010 at 10:36 PM ^

Ball Four by Jim Bouton

The first "inside story" written by a player on the 1970 Seatle Pilots one and only year in the MLB.  Up till then they had been pretty vanilla with few names named and even fewer crazy stories shared.

Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer

Written about the 1968 Green Bay Packers (Ice Bowl team) run to the NFL championship.  Last great season by the greatest football coach ever (sorry Bo), Vince Lombardi.


December 5th, 2010 at 10:22 PM ^

FOUL! The Connie Hawkins Story by David Wolf

I found this on my Dad's book shelf a few years back, and it was unbelievable.  Hawkins was before my time, so I had never heard of him.  His story is a great one.

I don't think it is in print anymore though, so you would have to buy it used.


December 5th, 2010 at 10:25 PM ^

in my opinion, and '100 things every Michigan fan should know and do before they die' (Chengelis) is a fun, light read...

And 'Bo: life, laughs, and lesson of a college football lessons' by Mitch Albom is pretty good...


December 6th, 2010 at 1:41 AM ^

Well after hearing from both of you about this book I'm sold. I'm after Bo's era so I really don't know a whole lot about him besides that he was a great Michigan man, the 10 year war, and just what an inspiration he was to the program until is unfortunate death a few years ago (even though I know he still inspires Michigan's athletes even though he has passed). I really want to know more about the great man that is Glen 'Bo' Schembechler. I'm gonna ask the parents for it for X-mas, barring they that haven't already gotten me something yet. If not, I'm getting it regardless.


December 5th, 2010 at 10:28 PM ^

Feinstein's written a lot of good books. He is best known for Season on the Brink but he has written others about the Ravens, Yankees, golf, the Patriot League, etc. 

Some of my favorite sports books were also written by David Halberstam. He wrote two great books on Michael Jordan and Bill Belichick.


December 5th, 2010 at 10:29 PM ^

I know a lot of people here hate Bill Simmons, but if you're an NBA junkie its a great read with lots of unique insights on players and some interesting hypotheticals about the history of the nba


December 6th, 2010 at 10:17 AM ^

The mediocre team featured in Season on the Brink added two jucos and won the national title the very next season. I like that book a lot, but 'unravelling' is not the word you want. It was controversial because of the inside look at Bob Knight's not-so-warm-and-cuddly elements, but those elements were part of the whole package. At that point in his career, the whole package resulted in buckets of wins, Big Ten titles, graduated players with productive post-college lives, and no hint of academic or recruiting scandal. By the later 90's Knight was no longer able to achieve those first two, and 'unravelling' might be a better term, but that was a decade in the future back in 1985-86.


December 5th, 2010 at 10:29 PM ^

Eleven Seconds.

It's a little bit older (written in the late 90s I think) by a former BU hockey player who went head first into the boards on his first collegiate shift and was paralyzed from the neck down.  Obviously not the most uplifting story on the surface, but he wrote pretty honestly about his ordeal and how he overcame the changes.  It definitely helps keep perspective.


December 6th, 2010 at 12:11 AM ^


Recall thinking about this book both when there had been talk a few years ago about a possble college hockey doubleheader at Fenway Park featuring Boston University, Boston College, Michigan and North Dakota, and later, after reading the news about Brock Mealer's story.  (BU and BC wound up playing the first college hockey game at Fenway Park last January, days after the Bruins and Flyers had played in the first NHL game at Fenway.)

Amazing that it has been over 15 years since Travis Roy's eleven seconds on the ice for Boston University's hockey team.  He's a very special person.  The Travis Roy Foundation supports research and assistance for spinal cord injury survivors.

Boston University has had many excellent hockey players, including four members of the 1980 USA Olympic "Miracle On Ice" team (Captain Mile Eruzione, goalie Jim Craig, defenseman Jack O'Callahan and forward Dave Silk), long-time NHL players Keith Tkachuk, Tony Amonte and Scott Young, Hobey Baker Award winners Chris Drury and Matt Gilroy, three-time All-American forward Rick Meagher and current Colorado Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco.  The only BU player whose number (24) has been retired is Travis Roy.


December 5th, 2010 at 10:49 PM ^

I remember reading that book, many funny stories about Charles Haley and his habits

Would strongly recommend, even if you don't like the Cowboys (and I don't)...it was clear from the book that Johnson was the main architect of that dynasty and everything collapsed after he left.


December 5th, 2010 at 10:46 PM ^

The stories are great, from the player's antics (firing live rounds on campus, threatening Elvis, visiting the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, etc.) to the Bear's crooked tactics.  Also neat to see how much criticism he got and how often he actually screwed up and cost his team wins even after they had turned things around. 


December 5th, 2010 at 10:53 PM ^


Instant Replay- by Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap. Like being a fly on the locker room wall of the Lombardi Packers. The Ice Bowl is retold in all its glory by the man who made the most famous block in NFL history. Pretty sure it was the first "insider perspective" sports book.


Playing For Keeps- Michael Jordan and the World He Made- by David Halberstam. Incredible book on the NBA's golden age. Amazing inside stories on every dynasty from the early 80s to MJ's Bulls written by one of the greatest journalists of our time (RIP). One in particular that I recall: Celtics were looking for Larry Bird in a panic (can't remember why). They found him at a Boston bar drinking vodka with blue collar factory worker-type guys.


Ball Four by Jim Bouton.


December 5th, 2010 at 10:52 PM ^

Not sure if you're a soccer fan, but Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby is great.  Honestly... it's a great book even if you don't like soccer.


December 5th, 2010 at 11:21 PM ^

"To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever: A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry"

-Great book about the second greatest rivalry in sports

"Born to Run"

-Not a sports book per se, but a very good and enthralling (if slightly hyperbolic and untrue) read.


December 6th, 2010 at 12:22 AM ^

"Do You Love Football?! Winning with Heart, Passion, & Not Much Sleep" is a pretty good read. Basically about his coaching career and how he got into it etc, etc. Some pretty interesting stories in the book, especially his younger days when his dad was on the Notre Dame staff.