Sports Books

Miss Sports? There's a Book for That

With plenty of extra time at home, and a lot of us in search of a sports fix, now would be the perfect time to pick up a new book.

Miss Sports? There’s a Book for That

Sports and books are two of my favorite things. They’re more alike than you’d think. Both motivate us and give us an escape when times get tough. Like right now. Except, we don’t have sports to escape to. But we do have books about sports to help fill the void.

A lot of people have more free time on their hands because of the novel coronavirus stay at home order, so I thought you may need some reading suggestions. I got ahold of some of my NBC7 coworkers who are big sports fans, and with their help compiled a list of book recommendations.

FOOTBALL:

“Collision Low Crossers: Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football” By Nicholas Dawidoff

We think we know football. We don’t know football!

This is a terrific, NYTimes well reviewed, behind the scenes look by a writer who spent a year with full access to the NY Jets and the then-head coach Rex Ryan and running backs coach Anthony Lynn along with every coach, player, trainer and front office staffer up to the GM. 

The author is not a traditional sports reporter, so the book is full of anecdotes and outsider observations (i.e. “Tackling is never allowed during regular season practices because it’s considered too dangerous.”) More than that, it’s a glimpse into the drama, personnel problems, achievements, rivalries and hopes - that rarely permeate the facade of pro football. Well worth the read.

  • Mark Mullen - News Anchor

“Junior Seau: The Life and Death of a Football Icon” By Jim Trotter

I need to start out by saying that this was hard to read at times. Seau, an Oceanside native, was larger than life, and apparently so were his demons. Trotter covers the life of one of the greatest linebackers to ever play the game to his death in 2012 at the age of 43 when he committed suicide. Raw, informative, heartbreaking, inspirational. This book brilliantly weaves it all together and has you longing to see number 55 on the field just one last time.

  • Becki Schildhouse - Sports Producer

“Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton” By Walter Payton and Don Yaeger

The man best known as Sweetness recounts his life from growing up poor in Mississippi, being a finalist in a Soul Train dance competition, to becoming one of the greatest football players of all-time. “Never die easy. Why run out of bounds and die easy? Make that linebacker pay. It carries into all facets of your life.” Life lessons from a legend we lost too soon.

  • Becki Schildhouse - Sports Producer

“Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, and a Dream” By H.G. Bissinger and Buzz Bissinger

The book that launched the TV show. This is the true story of the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team and how sports, education and community come together, or clash. Fascinating tale of how high school football is king in Texas.

  • Becki Schildhouse - Sports Producer

TENNIS:

“Unstoppable” By Maria Sharapova

This candid memoir tells the story of Maria Sharapova’s rise from nowhere to tennis stardom. She opens-up about everything from being banned from the circuit for taking a banned substance to her father’s unrelenting push to make her a child tennis prodigy.  He risked everything to get her out of their small Russian town to America and a new life. This is a story that transcends tennis, and teaches what determination, drive and dedication look like.

  • Catherine Garcia - News Anchor

BASKETBALL:

“Can I Keep My Jersey? 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond” By Paul Shirley

I can relate to this book on so many levels. The author is a great basketball player. He’s good enough to play in the NBA but not good enough to stay there. He’s self-deprecating and hilarious. You can apply the struggle to almost any profession.

  • Joe Little- Multimedia Journalist

"Heaven Is a Playground: A Journey into the Sweet World of Street Basketball” By Rick Telander

How good is this book? It’s being released in a fifth edition this year. Telander, a photojournalist who played high school hoops, spent part of his summer in 1973 at Foster Park in Flatbush, Brooklyn. There he met a group of teenagers who not only turned to basketball to deal with the realities of life but looked at it as an opportunity to go on to bigger and better things. Great story about how much sports mean to us.

  • Becki Schildhouse - Sports Producer

“A Season on the Brink” By John Feinstein

I’m a Hoosier. I went to grad school at Indiana University. While I was there, a professor loaned me this book and I quickly bought a copy for my own library. “A Season on the Brink” follows legendary hoops coach Bobby Knight and the 1986 IU men’s basketball team. From the strategy meetings, high stakes games and volatile temper of Coach Knight, Feinstein gives a well-rounded recount of his year embedded with the Hoosiers.

  • Becki Schildhouse - Sports Producer

"Counting Coup: A True Story of Basketball and Honor on the Little Big Horn" By Larry Colton

Larry Colton provides a unique, and at times gripping account of a season spent following a star girls basketball player in small town Montana. This isn't just a book about basketball, but one that examines the struggles of life on the reservation. Sharon LaForge carries the weight of her community, while dealing with the pitfalls of her surroundings. It is at points hopeful and also heartbreaking. In the end it gives the reader an intimate look at a culture and a sliver of American society that is often overlooked.

  • Darnay Tripp - Sports Anchor

BASEBALL:

“An American Journey: My Life on the Field, In the Air, and on the Air” By Jerry Coleman

We know his voice by heart, but few people know Jerry Coleman’s story because he rarely talked about himself. He did open-up to talk about his volatile childhood, serving in two armed conflicts, winning four World Series championships with the New York Yankees, and becoming the beloved voice of the San Diego Padres. Great book, timeless stories and a true legend.

  • Becki Schildhouse - Sports Producer

“Tales from the San Diego Padres” By Bob Chandler

Bob Chandler spent over 30-years as a broadcaster for the San Diego Padres, so he’s got a lot of stories to tell. This book covers the Padres from the days of Ray Kroc to the early 2000’s. Chandler shares behind the scenes moments with Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti and Bruce Bochy. A great read for any Padres fan.

  • Becki Schildhouse - Sports Producer

“Just Call Me Minnie: My Six Decades in Baseball” By Minnie Minoso

Minnie Minoso became the first black Cuban player in MLB when he debuted with the Cleveland Indians in 1949. In 1951 he was traded to the Chicago White Sox where he broke another barrier becoming the first black player in White Sox history. In this book, Minoso talks about working in the sugar fields in his native Cuba as a boy, to facing racial discrimination at home and abroad, and his baseball career. He’s one of the most loved players in White Sox history who doesn’t get the respect he deserves. If you’re a baseball fan, this is a must read.

  • Becki Schildhouse - Sports Producer

SOCCER:

“The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy” By Joe McGinniss

McGinniss went to Castel di Sangro in Italy to cover their soccer team that went from ragtag to the second-highest-ranking professional league in the country. This book has it all: laughter, drama, tragedy and insight into a little-known village. Superbly written, I couldn’t put it down.

  • Becki Schildhouse - Sports Producer

“When Nobody Was Watching: My Hard-Fought Journey to the Top of the Soccer World” By Carli Lloyd

We all know her name. Carli Lloyd, two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time FIFA Player of the Year. She’s one of the greatest soccer players in the world, but the journey to success wasn’t easy. Lloyd recounts her early years to when she almost quit playing before teaming up with the trainer who changed her life. She’s living soccer history and takes us with her.

  • Becki Schildhouse - Sports Producer

HOCKEY:

“The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team” By Wayne Coffey

Do you believe in miracles? I didn’t get to see the 1980 U.S. Men’s Hockey Team make their historic run to a gold medal at the Lake Placid Games, I wasn’t alive yet. But this book makes you feel like you’re on the bench with head coach Herb Brooks and the team. But what happened after the Americans shocked the Russians in the “Miracle on Ice” and then went on to win gold? Coffey also tells how the games changed the lives of the players and coaches.

  • Becki Schildhouse - Sports Producer

“Orr: My Story” By Bobby Orr

One of the greatest hockey players of all-time. Bobby Orr spent 12 seasons in the NHL with the Boston Bruins (who he won two Stanley Cup’s with) and Chicago Blackhawks. Before writing this book, he never talked about his past, so this was the first glimpse we got into the life of Bobby Orr and it did not disappoint. But this isn’t really a book about hockey, it’s a book about life filled with lessons he wanted to pass along to the younger generations. Something for everyone.

  • Becki Schildhouse - Sports Producer
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