My choice is bolded (#70). I read it last year in my sports and sociology class and I liked it a lot - kinda shows what the players go through with recruiting and grades and some who have to get out of the ghetto etc.
I read #100 to in that class too - interesting book even though it's with gymnastics.. but it talks about the pressure put on them and eating disorders etc etc
Top 100 Sporting Books.
1.The Sweet Science.
By A.J. Liebling (1956)
Pound-for-pound the top boxing writer of all time, Liebling is at his bare-knuckled best here, bobbing and weaving between superb reporting and evocative prose. The fistic figures depicted in this timeless collection of New Yorker essays range from champs such as Rocky Marciano and Sugar Ray Robinson to endearing palookas and eccentric cornermen on the fringes of the squared circle.
2. The Boys of Summer.
By Roger Kahn (1971)
A baseball book the same way Moby Dick is a fishing book, this account of the early-'50s Brooklyn Dodgers is, by turns, a novelistic tale of conflict and change, a tribute, a civic history, a piece of nostalgia and, finally, a tragedy, as the franchise's 1958 move to Los Angeles takes the soul of Brooklyn with it. Kahn writes eloquently about the memorable games and the Dodgers' penchant for choking -- "Wait Till Next Year" is their motto -- but the most poignant passages revisit the Boys in autumn. An auto accident has rendered catcher Roy Campanella a quadriplegic. Dignified trailblazer Jackie Robinson is mourning the death of his son. Sure-handed third baseman Billy Cox is tending bar. No book is better at showing how sports is not just games.
3. Ball Four.
By Jim Bouton (1970)
Though a declining knuckleballer, Bouton threw nothing but fastballs in his diary of the 1969 season. Pulling back the curtain on the seriocomic world of the big leagues, he writes honestly and hilariously about baseball's vices and virtues.
4. Friday Night Lights.
By H.G. Bissinger (1990)
Schoolboy football knits together the West Texas town of Odessa in the late 1980s. But as Permian High grows into a dynasty, the locals' sense of proportion blows away like a tumbleweed. A brilliant look at how Friday-night lights can lead a town into darkness.
5. You Know Me Al.
By Ring Lardner (1914)
This collection of letters from a fictional (and grammatically challenged) pitcher named Jack Keefe, originally published in installments in The Saturday Evening Post, earned Lardner a spot in the pantheon of American humorists alongside Mark Twain and Will Rogers.
6. A Season on the Brink.
By John Feinstein (1986)
Bob Knight still curses the day he granted the author unfettered access to his program. Feinstein's year as an honorary Hoosier yielded an unsparing portrait of Indiana's combustible coach and spawned the best-selling sports book of all time.
By Dan Jenkins (1972)
Running back Billy Clyde Puckett of TCU and the Giants calls himself the "humminest sumbitch that ever carried a football." Puckett is also the funniest, and the dialogue in this raunchy novel still crackles.
8. Paper Lion.
By George Plimpton (1965)
No one today does what the fearless Plimpton once did with regularity. Here, in his first Walter Mitty-esque effort, the author of the equally brilliant Shadow Box and The Bogey Man infiltrates the Detroit training camp as a quarterback with no arm, no legs and no shot.
9. The Game.
By Ken Dryden (1983)
Hall of Fame goalie Dryden was always different. A Cornell grad, he led Montreal to six Stanley Cups, then at 26 sat out a year to prepare for the bar exam. His book is different too: a well-crafted account of his career combined with a meditation on hockey's special place in Canadian culture.
10. Fever Pitch.
By Nick Hornby (1991)
How can the rest of the world summon such passion for soccer? You'll understand after reading Hornby's deeply personal and wonderfully witty account of an otherwise normal bloke who develops a full-blown obsession with Arsenal, the English Premier League team.
11. A River Runs Through It.
By Norman Maclean (1976)
One publisher rejected this novella because "the stories have trees in them" -- thereby missing the forest. The tale of two brothers headed in different directions also has fly-fishing and family drama, presented in prose as crisp and clear as a Montana mountain stream.
By Laura Hillenbrand (2001)
People who've never been to the racetrack love this book, and it's easy to see why. Hillenbrand has an irresistible story to tell, about a homely hay burner who came to dominate the Depression-era sports pages, taking a colorful crew of humans along for the ride.
13. Loose Balls.
By Terry Pluto (1990)
Flip to any page of this oral history of the wild-and-woolly ABA and you can kiss the next few hours goodbye. Pluto tells almost too-good-to-be-true stories about Marvin (Bad News) Barnes, Dr. J and obscure figures such as John Brisker, the meanest man in the league.
14. Bang the Drum Slowly.
By Mark Harris (1956)
Second of a quartet of baseball novels featuring star southpaw Henry Wiggen of the New York Mammoths, and a book that is in equal measures sober and silly.
15. Heaven Is a Playground.
By Rick Telander (1976)
The author hung around pickup games in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant section one summer and returned with this intriguing account of inner-city hoops, a trailblazer of its kind. Telander depicts the hopes -- real and false -- that the game offers its playground legends.
16. Levels of the Game.
By John McPhee (1969)
This gripping point-by-point breakdown of the 1968 U.S. Open semi-final between Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner is as much sociology as sport, with each man explaining how his background shaped his game.
17. The Breaks of the Game.
By David Halberstam (1981)
The Pulitzer Prize winner (for his Vietnam War coverage) focuses on the 1979-80 Trail Blazers. Like A Season on the Brink, Breaks proves that a down year can make for high drama.
18. The Summer Game.
By Roger Angell (1972)
This collection of 21 New Yorker pieces, with gems on the woeful early Mets as well as the "flowering and deflowering of New England" during the Red Sox' 1967 "Impossible Dream" season, cemented Angell's place as the game's greatest essayist.
19. The Long Season.
By Jim Brosnan (1960)
In 1959 Brosnan, a burnt-out reliever for the Cardinals and the Reds, kept a journal chronicling such things as the insecurity of superstars and the behavior of stewardesses on team flights.
20. Instant Replay.
By Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap (1968)
After a publishing exec implored him to find the "football Brosnan" (see above), Schaap corralled Kramer, a literate lineman for Lombardi's Green Bay Packers
. The book climaxes with Bart Starr's sneaking behind Kramer's block to win the Ice Bowl against the Cowboys.
21. Everybody's All-American.
By Frank Deford (1981)
In this novel Deford captures the romance and pageantry of 1950s football at North Carolina, then shows how star halfback Gavin Grey and his beauty-queen wife struggle after the cheering stops.
22. Fat City.
By Leonard Gardner (1969)
Weighing in at a trim 189 pages, Gardner's tale meticulously depicts the seedy, second-rate boxing scene in Stockton, Calif., and the desperate but hopeful men who inhabit it.
23. The City Game.
By Pete Axthelm (1970)
The master prose stylist portrays parallel basketball worlds in New York City: Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks won the 1969-70 championship, and the playgrounds of Harlem, where stars such as Earl (the Goat) Manigault burned brightly but too briefly.
24. The Natural.
By Bernard Malamud (1952)
The movie was a Mawkish Rocky-in-flannels, but the novel is a darker, more subtle tale of phenom Roy Hobbs, who loses his prime years to a youthful indiscretion, then gets a second chance.
25. North Dallas Forty.
By Peter Gent (1973)
Gent was a cowboys receiver from 1964 to '68, so his darkly funny novel about a league rife with drugs and depravity left fans guessing.
26. When Pride Still Mattered.
By David Maraniss (1999)
Pulitzer Prize winner Maraniss turns his attention to pro football's most acclaimed coach, Vince Lombardi, and skillfully reveals the complex man behind the legend.
27. Babe: The Legend Comes to Life.
By Robert Creamer (1974)
This biography, which broke new ground with its voluminous research and unsentimental gaze at an American folk hero, is still considered the final word when it comes to separating Ruth fact from fiction, such as his alleged called shot in the 1932 World Series.
28. The Golf Omnibus.
By P.G. Wodehouse (1973)
Wodehouse's status as golf's Shakespeare, its master comedian and tragedian, is borne out by this collection of short stories in which golf and love are the two constants. "I doubt if golfers should fall in love," says one character. "I have known it to cost men 10 shots per medal round."
29. About Three Bricks Shy of a Load.
By Roy Blount Jr. (1974)
Blount spent the '73 season following (and drinking with) the predynasty Steelers.
30. A Fan's Notes.
By Frederick Exley (1968)
The protagonist of this sad but stirring fictional memoir finds refuge from his troubled life by focusing on his football hero, Frank Gifford.
31. Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life.
By Richard Ben Cramer (2000)
Cramer takes DiMaggio from his boyhood in San Francisco to the hospital room in Florida where, as he lies dying, a trusted adviser slips the 1936 World Series ring from his finger. Brilliant, stylish and a riveting study in the degrading effects of adulation.
32. The Game They Played.
By Stanley Cohen (1977)
An engrossing morality tale about the 1949-50 City College basketball team ("five street kids from the City of New York -- three Jews and two blacks") that won the NIT and NCAA titles, and the point-shaving scandal that doomed its players to infamy.
33. Veeck as in Wreck.
By Bill Veeck and Ed Linn (1962)
Baseball is a lot less fun without promo-meister Veeck, who recounts the eureka moments behind the exploding scoreboard, the pinch-hitting midget and the contortionist first base coach. He always gave fans what they wanted, even if that was, in one case, a fire-eating pelican.
34. Ben Hogan's Five Lessons.
By Ben Hogan and Herbert Warren Wind (1957)
Originally serialized in SI in 1957, Hogan's lessons proved to be an enduring hit. Tremendously detailed, down to how to waggle the club properly, this is the definitive primer on the sport from its hardest-working perfectionist.
35. The Worst Journey in the World.
By Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)
"Polar exploration is AT once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised," writes Cherry-Garrard, who recounts his experiences on Robert Falcon Scott's tragic 1910 Antarctic expedition with eloquence and objectivity.
36. Beyond a Boundary.
By C.L.R. James (1963)
The Trinidadian Marxist's cricket-drenched memoir is equal parts sports, history and philosophy.
37. A False Spring.
By Pat Jordan (1975)
An honest and deeply affecting memoir by a now established journalist describing his brief, bittersweet pitching career, starting in 1959 as a $50,000 bonus baby with the Milwaukee Braves and ending after four mostly dismal minor league seasons.
38. Life on the Run.
By Bill Bradley (1976)
What's the big deal about three weeks in the life of the New York Knicks as chronicled by their star forward? Plenty, when the author is a Princeton grad, a Rhodes scholar and a future U.S. senator who writes with uncommon candor and intelligence.
39. The Red Smith Reader.
By Red Smith (1982)
These columns by the man The New York Times said "was to sports what Homer was to war" offer Smith on Willie Mays, Vince Lombardi and Leon Trotsky. On the Shot Heard Round the World: "Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again."
40. An Outside Chance: Essays on Sport.
By Thomas McGuane (1980)
The contemplative hunting essay "The Heart of the Game" is the highlight of this collection of off-center pieces so packed with vivid ironies as to choke you up when you're not laughing out loud. A shrewd, eccentric book about hunting and fishing and poaching golf balls from water hazards.
41. The Unforgettable Season.
By Gordon H. Fleming (1981)
A literature professor re-creates the scintillating 1908 Cubs-Giants-Pirates pennant race (of Merkle's Boner fame) entirely through excerpts of the era's florid sportswriting -- which means runners aren't merely thrown out at the plate, they're "massacred at the fourth bag."
42. The Celebrant.
By Eric Rolfe Greenberg (1983)
An oft-overlooked novel that blends fact and fiction to create a charming turn-of-the-century tale about the intertwined lives of New York Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson and the family of a young Jewish immigrant who makes his World Series rings.
43. Big Red of Meadow Stable.
By William Nack (1975)
The breathtaking description of Secretariat's 31-length Belmont victory is the highlight here, but Nack's book (reissued as Secretariat: The Making of a Champion) is also memorable for the way it traces the great horse's bloodlines through racing history.
44. The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract.
By Bill James (1985)
James, recently hired by the Red Sox as a senior adviser, weaves together thoughtful essays and lists, often turning traditional wisdom on its ear with analysis that goes far beyond the numbers -- and all without taking himself (or the game) too seriously.
45. End Zone.
By Don DeLillo (1972)
This shrewd and funny novel, set against a Cold War backdrop, explores the football-as-war metaphor through the life of a college running back. "I reject the notion of football as warfare," one angst-ridden character says. "We don't need substitutes because we've got the real thing."
46. Foul! The Connie Hawkins Story.
By David Wolf (1972)
Wolf's understated prose is equal to his fascinating subject: a Brooklyn playground legend expelled from the University of Iowa for allegedly conspiring with gamblers. The charges were disproved, but the great Hawk didn't reach the NBA until he was 27 and hobbled by bad knees.
47. Shoeless Joe.
By W.P. Kinsella (1982)
The same richness as Field of Dreams, the movie it inspired, but on a wider canvas. The novel has plot twists and fascinating characters not in the screenplay, most notably author J.D. Salinger and Eddie (Kid) Scissons, who claims to be the oldest living Cub.
48. Into Thin Air.
By Jon Krakauer (1997)
An accomplished climber, the author was sent to Mount Everest by Outside magazine to report on the growing commercialization of the world's most famous peak. What he came back with was a suspenseful account of a catastrophic season in which 12 climbers were killed.
49. Eight Men Out.
By Eliot Asinof (1963)
The final word on the controversial 1919 Black Sox scandal, a critical event in sports history. Former minor leaguer Asinof persuasively argues that the only participant worthy of exoneration is not Shoeless Joe Jackson but third baseman Buck Weaver.
50. Baseball's Great Experiment.
By Jules Tygiel (1983)
In what The New York Times called a "rich, intelligent cultural history," Tygiel portrays not only Jackie Robinson's breakthrough 1947 season with the Dodgers but also the arduous 12-year march toward integration by all teams in the major leagues.
51. Laughing in the Hills.
By Bill Barich (1980)
Nearing 40 and faced with the death of his mother and a failing marriage, Barich checks into a hotel near Golden Gate Fields racetrack and stays for the season. As he gambles alongside a flock of railbirds, he becomes, he says in this evocative memoir, "Restored if not Renewed."
52. Dollar Sign on the Muscle.
By Kevin Kerrane (1984)
The author spent a year with the Phillies' scouts when they were arguably the best judges of raw talent in the major leagues. The often hard lives of baseball's underpaid hunter-gatherers are rendered in lively detail.
53. The Bronx Zoo.
By Sparky Lyle and Peter Golenbock (1979)
After this book Lyle was no longer known as just a Cy Young Award-winning reliever; he was the guy who liked to sit bare-assed on teammates' birthday cakes. His hilarious as-told-to proves that a talented team can feud and ego-trip its way to the World Series.
54. The Professional.
By W.C. Heinz (1958)
Hemingway called this dialogue-driven portrayal of the month long run-up to a championship middleweight bout "the only good novel I've ever read about a fighter." Young Elmore Leonard was so inspired by it that he sent his first (and last) fan letter to Heinz.
55. The Baseball Encyclopedia.
By MacMillan (Publisher) (1969)
Sure, you can find stats galore on the Internet. But for those who relish paging through career numbers and debating whether Smokey Burgess was better than Ed Bailey, this tome, which is revised every few years, is the final authority.
56. A Savage Business.
By Richard Hoffer (1998)
In what kind of world can Mike Tyson emerge from prison to discover that "raping a teenager had turned out to be a great career decision"? Only in the unseemly universe of heavyweight boxing. SI's Hoffer relentlessly peppers the sport with body blows.
57. The Glory of Their Times.
By Lawrence Ritter (1966)
Ritter spent six years tracking down professional baseball players from the early 1900s, then stepped aside to let them tell their remarkable stories in their own words. Virtually all of these men are gone now, but thanks to Ritter they'll never be forgotten.
58. The Complete Armchair Book of Baseball.
Edited by John Thorn (1999)
This one-volume reissue of an esteemed two-volume collection includes essays and fiction, profiles and columns by such first-rank writers as Roger Angell, Stephen Jay Gould and John Updike. Abbott and Costello's Who's on First? also cracks the lineup of 114 entries.
59. Among the Thugs.
By Bill Buford (1991)
While he was editing the literary magazine Granta in London, Buford, an American, spent his weekends with soccer hooligans, whose violence both repulsed and mesmerized him. Newsweek called this "one of the most unnerving books you will ever read."
60. Lords of the Realm.
By John Helyar (1994)
Helyar, a Wall Street Journal reporter and co-author of the best-selling Barbarians at the Gate, turns a critical eye to the businessmen who have run baseball for the past century. He delivers a withering analysis of the owners' inability to manage themselves or the game.
61. The Universal Baseball Association, Inc.
By Robert Coover (1968)
The protagonist in this mind-bending novel, J. Henry Waugh, invents a baseball board game, only to become so obsessed with the tabletop world he creates that he begins to lose his grip on reality -- especially after one of his players dies from a beanball.
62. Days of Grace.
By Arthur Ashe with Arnold Rampersad (1993)
This autobiography, completed shortly before Ashe died of AIDS, recounts the groundbreaking career of the Wimbledon champion turned social activist. After reading Days in prison, Mike Tyson had Ashe's face tattooed on his left biceps.
63. Out of Their League.
By Dave Meggyesy (1970)
Readers were shocked by the brutality and rampant drug use in Meggyesy's memoir of his days as an NFL linebacker. This was one of the first books to focus on what the author calls the "dehumanizing" experience of the modern professional athlete.
64. Golf Dreams: Writings on Golf.
By John Updike (1996)
"I am curiously, disproportionately, undeservedly happy on a golf course," the author writes. This collection of 30 fiction and nonfiction pieces, highlighted by the fantastical short story "Farrell's Caddie," elicits the same response in the reader.
65. In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle.
By Madeleine Blais (1995)
Blais, a Pulitzer Prize winner, here follows the 1992-93 season of the Amherst (Mass.) High School girls hoops team from tryouts to the state championship. Her deftly drawn profiles provide insights into how important sports and winning can be for young women.
66. They Call Me Coach.
By John Wooden with Jack Tobin (1972)
Wooden's story is refreshingly free of the tedious "coach as CEO" lectures now so common in the genre. The book includes the Wooden Pyramid of Success, a guide for life and basketball that has been posted in many coaches' offices. Updated and reissued in 1988.
By Howard Cosell (1973)
"Arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, persecuting, distasteful, verbose, a show-off," Cosell writes. "I have been called all of these. Of course, I am." In his first book Cosell told it like it was and blew cigar smoke in the face of the sports establishment.
68. Down the Fairway.
By Bobby Jones and O.B. Keeler (1927)
Jones begins by apologizing for publishing an autobiography at age 25. But his book, which discusses excellence in golf (Jones had already won the U.S. and British Opens) as part of a life well lived, is an elegant, deeply personal document that is surely something to celebrate.
69. Big Game, Small World.
By Alexander Wolff (2002)
Wolff embarks on a 17-country journey -- getting in a pickup game with two members of the royal family in Bhutan and visiting the masters of the crossover dribble in Peoria -- to test his contention that basketball is an "intercultural epoxy."
70. The Last Shot.
By Darcy Frey (1994)
If Coney Island means fun to you, then you don't know it like the students at Abraham Lincoln High School do. Frey follows the fortunes of the teenage Stephon Marbury and others who try to play their way out of the "ghetto school for the projects" with varying success.
71. Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder.
By Arnold Schwarzenegger and Douglas Kent Hall (1977)
The summer that Schwarzenegger turned 15 in Austria, he discovered bodybuilding and told his father, "I want to be the best-built man in the world. Then I want to go to America and be in movies." Ahhnuld's brazenness and passion make this an inspiring read.
72. Out of the Bunker and Into the Trees.
By Rex Lardner (1960)
Ring's nephew Rex was an accomplished tennis player and a two-time Big Ten wrestling champ, but this hilarious send-up of golf culture might have been his greatest achievement. It's a book that's hard to find but worth the effort.
73. The Fight.
By Norman Mailer (1975)
Mailer can come off as a self-important blowhard, but the Ali-Foreman Rumble in the Jungle provided such inherent drama that his heated prose -- lionizing both combatants, but especially Ali -- seems perfectly appropriate.
74. Only the Ball Was White.
By Robert Peterson (1970)
The Negro Leagues, which had folded two decades earlier, were fading from memory when Peterson wrote this landmark history, sparking renewed interest in the leagues and restoring Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige and other black stars to their rightful place in baseball's pantheon.
75. Harvey Penick's Little Red Book.
By Harvey Penick with Bud Shrake (1992)
Penick spent six decades jotting down his folksy wisdom in a red Scribbletex notebook, never intending to publish it. Golfers everywhere should be thankful that, at 87, he decided to share his tips, garnered from teaching hackers and famous pros alike.
76. Whatever Happened to Gorgeous George?
By Joe Jares (1974)
An affectionate depiction of pro wrestling in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, when the sport had a more benign, vaudevillian flavor. Jares does a terrific riff on the masked men, ersatz Indian chiefs, "leaping lords" and other baddies who routinely smuggled "foreign objects" in their trunks.
By Maurice Herzog (1951)
Before Everest, there was Annapurna. Frenchman Herzog led the first summitting of an 8,000-meter peak, dictating his story because he had lost all his fingers to frostbite.
78. The Great American Novel.
By Philip Roth (1973)
Considering their players -- a one-legged catcher, a one-armed centerfielder, a 14-year-old second baseman and a dwarf relief pitcher -- perhaps it's not so surprising that the 1943 Patriot League team at the heart of this ribald satirical novel finishes 34-120.
79. Soccer in Sun and Shadow.
By Eduardo Galeano (1998)
The Uruguayan writer's meditation is part lyrical ode ("I've finally learned to accept myself for who I am: a beggar for good soccer"), part political screed. The 211 short chapters are so breezily written that even the Marxist medicine goes down smoothly.
80. The Story of American Golf.
By Herbert Warren Wind (1948)
The longtime New Yorker writer chronicles the game (this "frappé of pleasure and pain") from its first appearance in the U.S. in 1888 through the outbreak of World War II, colorfully recounting each of the significant championships of that era.
81. Inside Edge.
By Christine Brennan (1996)
This insider's tour of Olympic-level figure skating serves up the intrigue behind the Lutzes and Salchows, the pushy parents and the skating officials who ham-handedly dealt with the effects of AIDS on the sport's athletes, coaches and choreographers.
82. Farewell to Sport.
By Paul Gallico (1938)
Gallico left the New York Daily News after 13 years spent covering a golden age of sports; this is his valedictory. His tales of Ruth and Dempsey ring with you-are-there immediacy, and his participatory journalism (golf with Bobby Jones) inspired George Plimpton.
83. Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times.
By Thomas Hauser (1991)
An oral history with more than 150 voices, some requisite (Angelo Dundee, Ferdie Pacheco) and some not (Jimmy Carter, Cheryl Tiegs). The interviews with Ali's father and with Joe Martin, the cop who introduced Ali to boxing, are particularly illuminating.
84. Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?
By Jimmy Breslin (1963)
The hard-bitten newspaper man found himself charmed by the lovable bumblers known as the '62 Mets -- "three 20-game losers, an Opening Day outfield that held the all-time major league record for fathering children (19), a defensive catcher who couldn't catch."
85. The Complete Book of Running.
By James Fixx (1977)
When Fixx took up running, he weighed 214 pounds and smoked two packs a day. When he wrote this cry to "change your life" (which spent 11 weeks at No. 1 on the best-seller list) in strong, clear prose, he was 60 pounds lighter, smoke-free and an inspiration to millions.
86. The Science of Hitting.
By Ted Williams And John Underwood(1970)
The Splendid Splinter may not extol batters ("The ball isn't dead, the hitters are, from the neck up") or hurlers (who "as a breed are dumb and hardheaded"), but no one has more eloquently explicated the act of squarely hitting a round ball with a round bat.
87. Only a Game.
By Robert Daley (1967)
Running back Duke Craig has turned 31, his body is aching, and his love life's a mess. This dark novel by the author of Prince of the City rings with authenticity, and no wonder: Daley spent six seasons as publicity director for the glory-days New York Giants.
88. The Joy of Sports.
By Michael Novak (1976)
The catholic theologian, author of Belief and Unbelief and a Notre Dame football fan, muses on the religious underpinnings of sports, praising the "holy trinity" of baseball, football and basketball over "the illusory, misleading, false world" of work, politics and history.
89. The Lords of the Rings.
By Vyv Simson and Andrew Jennings (1992)
An exposé of rampant corruption in the Olympics that takes on former IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch's Fascist past, the temptations dangled by aspiring host cities, the extravagant demands for "perks" by IOC members and the widespread cover-up of athletes' drug use.
90. Road Swing.
By Steve Rushin (1998)
SI's Rushin logged 23,658 miles in a rented Nissan Pathfinder for this hilarious travelogue of sports destinations high (the Masters) and low (the Las Vegas restaurant that displays Andre Agassi's ponytail). A ball-sy Kerouac-ian journey, minus the mind-altering drugs.
91. Golf in the Kingdom.
By Michael Murphy (1972)
The enchanting first half of the book recounts Murphy's golf- and life-altering round with Scottish "philosopher-poet" Shivas Irons. The second half, in which Murphy floats his loopy metaphysical insights, will have some readers begging for a mulligan.
92. Game Misconduct.
By Russ Conway (1995)
Dogged reporting by small-town sports editor Conway brought down Alan Eagleson, once hockey's most powerful man. The author's legwork uncovered how Eagleson, working as both an agent and as head of the players' union, cheated players out of a small fortune.
93. No Cheering in the Press Box.
By Jerome Holtzman (1973)
This oral history of 18 golden-age sportswriters shows that greats such as Cannon, Gallico and Smith could talk it as well as they wrote it. Cannon sums up their philosophy: "Sportswriting has survived because of the guys who don't cheer. They're the truth-tellers. Lies die."
94. Beer and Circus.
By Murray Sperber (2000)
The author is the IU professor and Bobby Knight critic who took a leave due to threats from the general's loyalists, but this indictment of "Big-time U's" is Sperber's rightful legacy. He argues that large universities use sports to numb students to increasingly shoddy academics.
95. The Harder They Fall.
By Budd Schulberg (1947)
This hard-boiled novel is loosely based on the gangster-driven rise and inevitable fall of the massive but glass-jawed heavyweight Primo Carnera, with Toro Molina (Giant of the Andes) in the title role. The shady promoter and press flack are the real stars.
96. The Tumult and the Shouting.
By Grantland Rice (1954)
The last of the estimated 67 million words written by Rice; he completed this autobiography three weeks before his death. The book is showing its age, but it also displays the poetry ("Outlined against the blue-gray October sky") that made Rice king of his profession.
By Robert Lipsyte (1975)
This angry screed is Lipsyte at his combative best as he rips the lazy sportswriters, establishment nabobs, team owners and TV executives who he says have hoodwinked the public into believing that big-time sports are a "positive force on our national psyche."
98. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings.
By William Brashler (1973)
Rather than accept a shoddy contract from the Louisville Ebony Aces, star catcher Bingo Long forms his own team and hits the barnstorming road. Brashler befriended former Negro leagues stars while doing research, and he repays them with a warm portrayal of their humor and heartbreak.
99. The Miracle of Castel di Sangro.
By Joe McGinniss (1999)
The author of Fatal Vision spent a year in a tiny mountain hamlet 85 miles east of Rome covering the local soccer team, which had, improbably, qualified for Italy's Serie B league. The season ends with a twist that will shock readers as much as it did McGinniss.
100. Little Girls in Pretty Boxes.
By Joan Ryan (1995)
You'll never look at a pixie gymnast the same way again. This powerful book by a San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter reveals in excruciating detail the physical toll -- including anorexia, osteoporosis and delayed menstruation -- on competitors in figure skating and elite gymnastics.