Sports Biblio

A Blog About Sports Books, History And Culture

A History of Baseball Best-Sellers: Sports Biblio Digest, 10.16.16

Baseball best-sellers aren’t as plentiful as it may be presumed, given the prevalence of baseball books on the market.

george will, men at work, baseball best-sellersThis edition of the Sports Biblio Digest leads with a writer’s search into the historical archive to find out how few baseball best-sellers there have been over the years, which ones were listed the longest, and some lauded books that never made the list.

Other baseball reads delve in the greatness of Sandy Koufax, a remembrance of a long-forgotten reliever who served as a set-up man of sorts for the bullpen strategies of today, and a memorable celebration of a memorable pennant victory 30 years ago.  Continue reading

On Sportswriters, Real and Imagined: Sports Biblio Digest, 10.9.16

Sportswriters take center stage in this proudly Trump-free issue of the digest, along with other great reads about sports books, history and culture:the sportswriter, richard ford

  • a novelist, Richard Ford, who wrote a book about a sportswriter that is about so much more;
  • a nonagenarian baseball writer, Roger Angell, with a wondrous gift for the language that puts far younger sportswriters to shame;
  • a tribute to George Plimpton, and occasional sportswriter;
  • a sportswriter who invented a newspaper to write for;
  • sportswriters who labored during the golden age of their craft, when baseball was triumphant;
  • sportswriters who are gathering for a festival of their own in Australia;
  • and an acclaimed sportswriter in his prime, with a fond remembrance of a friend he believes ought to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Continue reading

Farewell to Kevin Garnett: Sports Biblio Digest, 9.25.16

When Kevin Garnett jumped from high school straight to the National Basketball Association in 1995, he was the first prep star to be drafted directly into the league in 20 years.

kevin garnettAt the time, basketball officials, educators and journalists were having a serious debate about what such a trend might portend, given the salary riches of a league made bountiful by Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and others who didn’t finish their college careers.

But at least they had college careers, a little seasoning before entering the unforgiving world of the pros. Continue reading

The Late Style of Vin Scully: Sports Biblio Digest, 9.18.16

Why do we revere Vin Scully so? Nostalgia? His unfailingly polite and pleasant persona, both on the air and in person? His poetic vocabulary and delivery with a grandfatherly lilt, never a touch overdone? His abiding respect for the game, personified by prodigious preparation?

pull up a chair, vin scully, spring 2016 sports booksAll of the above, and more.

In these times of deep political and cultural division—much of it conjured up by media—perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that an iconic voice of baseball should be so universally admired, even by many who have never heard him much, if at all.

Two weeks from today, on Oct. 2, Scully will call his very last game for the Los Angeles Dodgers, when they close the regular season at AT & T Park in San Francisco against their ancient rivals, the Giants. Continue reading

What’s really the matter with the NFL: Sports Biblio Digest, 9.11.16

As another NFL season kicks off, many of the gloomy headlines that have accompanied the return to the gridiron in recent years have receded a bit.

two minute warning, nfl, mike freemanWith a new season comes a haul of NFL-themed books that bears out this changing topical fare. As I noted last week in my fall sports book preview, many of the new NFL books are biographies: Brett Favre, Chuck Noll, Steve Young and Ken Stabler.

Others go back in time: The late two-way Hall of Famer Bill Dudley, the inglorious history of the New England Patriots, and the first players to break pro football’s color line. Continue reading

Sports Biblio Q & A: Curtis Harris, Pro Hoops History

In this Sports Biblio Q and A about pro basketball history, we contacted Curtis Harris, founder and proprietor of the Pro Hoops History website.

curtis harris, pro hoops historyHe discusses how he got interested the subject, how he does his research, his favorite basketball books, the Hall of Fame induction process and more.

Harris has written for the NBA blogs Hardwood Paroxysm and ESPN TrueHoop, as well as Bleacher Report, The Sporting News, The Daily Beast and other publications. He actively Tweets @ProHoopsHistory. Continue reading

Fall 2016 Sports Books: The Sports Biblio Preview Guide

Biographies, memoirs and books about American football take precedence in U.S. publishing circles in September and October. What follows is a selected list of fall 2016 sports books, highlighting notable releases and brief descriptions.

Gunslinger, Brett Favre, fall 2016 sports booksThe subjects include Brett Favre, Steve Young, Chuck Noll, high school football in Texas, NFL players who broke the color line and rape scandals in college football. Arnold Palmer, Jeff Gordon, Wayne Gretzky and Marty McSorley have penned new memoirs, as have U.S. women’s soccer heroines Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd.

Newly retired NBA star Kobe Bryant is the subject of a new book by Roland Lazenby, acclaimed biographer of Michael Jordan. The death of Sonny Liston is examined nearly a half-century later.

Continue reading

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Man of Letters: The Sports Biblio Digest, 8.28.16

As he likes to remind anyone who will listen, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been writing books, making and starring in films and television programs and serving in a number of public, non-sporting capacities longer than he ever played basketball.

writings on the wall, kareem abdul-jabbarThe NBA’s all-time scoring leader and multiple record-holder, MVP, all-pro,  six-time league champion and basketball hall of famer has forged a rare post-athletic career and persona that drew admiring notice from Publishers Weekly.

He’s a longtime jazz devotee, and last year became a novelist in a nod to Sherlock Holmes. He recently met with his literary hero, crime fiction writer Walter Mosley (author of “Devil in a Blue Dress”), in a public discussion at the New York Public Library. Continue reading

Sports Biblio Digest 8.21.16: The Art of Sports Photography

The sports photography that iconized the legendary feats of Muhammad Ali, The Miracle on Ice, Willie Mays and Jesse Owens, among many others in previous eras, is enjoying a welcome and necessary appreciation in the digital age.

sports illustrated, sports photographyWe live in a heavily visualized media world that overwhelms the viewer with multiple angle views, roving cameras, endless replays, screeching commentary and instant interviews with breathless athletes.

Yet it is a still, silent shot—seemingly simple to snap but extremely challenging and complicated to get right—that truly captures the eye and renders an image of perfection for the ages. Continue reading

The ambitious baseball fiction of ‘The Art of Fielding’

How serious should baseball fiction be? In the early 21st century, Chad Harbach’s “The Art of Fielding” set off that conversation in new ways.

the art of fielding, baseball fiction, chad harbachI was asking myself that same question several times while trying to read Harbach’s 2011 doorstopper, before eventually setting it aside. My ability to dig into big books has been waning in recent years. I would love to blame it all on the distractions of the digital age, so I thought the issue here was me. Continue reading

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