Sports Books The Sweet Science, by A.J. Liebling Science Even given his legendary girth, master of boxiana Liebling still
may be, pound for pound, the most felicitous stylist in sportswriting
by DICK FRIEDMAN Sunday Money, by Jeff MacGregor Science history. But he runs up against a true heavyweight in Maraniss.
Although sports deals with fun Doggedly and perceptively tackling pro football’s most iconic
and games, what distinguishes
Instant Replay, by Jerry Kramer Replay figure,Vince Lombardi, he has written the richest sports biography
these books is their close, Eight Men Out, by Eliot Asinof Science ever, one laced with reminiscence, regret, and revelation—reading
painful, and evocative it is compulsive and compulsory.
examinations of defeat and A Season on the Brink, by John Feinstein Brink
despair. The very best, in The Natural, by Bernard Malamud Lion
presenting fully rounded Hillenbrand’s captivating, out-of-nowhere saga of the Depression-
portraits of our icons, often Paper Lion, by George Plimpton Lion era wonder horse can’t unseat Lewis’s lucid portrait of number-
leave the reader with a lingering
sadness, along with an enhanced
The Gilded Age of Sport, by Herbert Warren Wind Pride crunching Oakland general manager Billy Beane and his theories
about unearthing bargain talent—a work that inspired a game-
awareness of our inevitable The Game, by Ken Dryden
decline.There is so much depth
Game changing debate whose aftershocks reverberate in the biz of
in this field that there are many North Dallas Forty, by Peter Gent Ball Four
reserves who missed the cut.
Where have you gone, Richard Ball Four, by Jim Bouton Ball Four
Ben Cramer’s Joe DiMaggio:The The Junction Boys, by Jim Dent Pride
Hero’s Life? Or The Bill James
Historical Baseball Abstract? Or The Summer Game, by Roger Angell Summer Game
Pete Axthelm’s The City Game, Ironically, Wisconsin product Maraniss is nipped
or even the Chip Hilton series?
The Long Season, by Jim Brosnan Pride by another hometown hero. Brooklynite Kahn
And the peerless David crafted an elegy to his ’50s Dodgers, arguably
When Pride Still Mattered, by David Maraniss Pride
Halberstam can’t make it out The Boys of the most beloved team in sports history. Lyrically
of round 1? Loose Balls, by Terry Pluto Summer wrought, it’s at once heartbreaking and
loving. Most indelible are Kahn’s tenderly etched
Moneyball, by Michael Lewis Moneyball portraits of his Boys in midlife—faded, bruised
Babe, by Robert Creamer by their existence after baseball, clinging to their
Moneyball memories, and achingly aware of their mortality.
Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby Pitch This is sportswriting’s most shining moment.
Levels of the Game, by John McPhee Moneyball
Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand Seabiscuit
DICK FRIEDMAN is a senior You Know Me Al, by Ring Lardner Seabiscuit
editor at Sports Illustrated who
has reviewed books for si.com. Semi-Tough, by Dan Jenkins Semi-Tough Golfers give thanks (and shanks) for Wodehouse’s matchlessly
At the magazine, he has Heaven Is a Playground, by Rick Telander Boys choreographed, laugh-out-loud links stories, which remain as
supervised coverage of pro and shrewdly fresh as the days they were written (some as far
college basketball, baseball, golf, Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissinger Lights back as early last century). But Bissinger’s brilliantly detailed
sports media, and fantasy football. Summer of ’49, by David Halberstam opus survives and advances, having generated a buzz by literally
He grew up in the Boston area, Lights illuminating a heretofore undercovered slice of Americana.
where he spent his weekends, The Golf Omnibus, by P. G. Wodehouse Golf Omnibus
depending on the season,
watching such heroes as Bob Everybody’s All-American, by Frank Deford Boys
Cousy, Bill Russell, Bobby Orr, and
Carl Yastrzemski. The Red Sox’ A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean River
In a minor upset, Harris’s sweetly sad baseball novel succumbs
win in the 2004 World Series Bang the Drum Slowly, by Mark Harris Boys to Maclean’s alluring and shimmering fly-fishing
relegated his daughter’s birth to primer–cum–memoir. The prose, as limpid and bracing as the
the second-greatest event in his The Boys of Summer, by Roger Kahn Boys of Summer Montana streams in which the story takes place, stirs readers
life. His daughter understood. My Losing Season, by Pat Conroy who never baited a hook to head for the nearest Orvis outlet.