JAMIE'S BOOKSHELF: Plenty of New Sports books for Summer Reading
Updated: Jul 19, 2020
Compiled by Jamie H. Vaught
Here’s a list of recently-published sports books that you may want to ponder for your summer reading pleasure.
–“Yogi: A Life Behind the Mask” by Jon Pessah (Little, Brown and Company, $30) is a definitive biography of Yogi Berra, the New York Yankees icon who won a record 10 World Series championships. Berra, who died in 2015 at the age of 90, was a second-generation immigrant from a working-class, Italian-speaking family in St. Louis who left school after the eighth grade. The Hall of Fame catcher remains one of the most-quoted Americans ever. The bestselling author is a founding editor of ESPN the Magazine and wrote highly-acclaimed baseball book, “The Game.”
–“Buzz Saw: The Improbable Story of How the Nationals Won the World Series” by Jesse Dougherty (Simon & Schuster, $27) is an enlightening story about the Washington Nationals’ World Series championship season. The 308-page hardcover covers the dramatic 2019 campaign in vivid detail, taking readers inside the dugout, the clubhouse, the front office and the championship parade. “You have a great year, and you can run into a buzz saw,” said pitching star Stephen Strasburg told the author after the Nationals reached the Fall Classic. “Maybe this year we’re the buzz saw.” The author is the Nationals’ beat reporter for the Washington Post.
–“Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original” by Mitchell Nathanson (University of Nebraska Press, $34.95) is about a player who changed our view of baseball forever through his famous 1970 book, “Ball Four.” Based on wide-ranging interviews with ex-New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton, family, friends and others, the new 407-page volume gives readers an intimate, inside account of Bouton’s notable life. The author is a professor of law at Villanova University who has written several baseball books.
–“The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife” by Brad Balukjian (University of Nebraska Press, $27.95) is a feel-good story about baseball. It all began when the author ordered a single pack of 1986 Topps baseball cards on eBay. And he chewed the nearly 30-year-old gum that came with the pack and embarked on a long journey – 11,341 miles in 30 states in 48 days during the summer of 2015 – to locate and interview all the players who were in that particular pack. A freelance writer whose articles have appeared in major publications such as Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, among others, the author is a baseball fan who teaches biology at Merritt College in Oakland, Calif.
–“The Second Life of Tiger Woods” by Michael Bamberger (Avid Reader Press, $28) is an inspiring and intimate story about an iconic golfer who has clawed his way back to the top after public disgrace. The author, a longtime sportswriter who has covered Woods since the golfer was an amateur, draws upon his deep network of sources inside the locker rooms, caddie yards, clubhouses, fitness trailers, and back offices to tell the true story of Woods’ stunning comeback.
–“Changing the Game: My Career in Collegiate Sports Marketing” by Jim Host with Eric A. Moyen (University Press of Kentucky, $34.95) is a remarkable story about his wide-ranging, successful career in broadcasting, business, sports and politics. A former baseball standout for the Kentucky Wildcats, Host shares many behind-the-scenes stories and tidbits in collegiate sports, including UK. Host, a pioneer in collegiate sports marketing who grew up in Pennsylvania and Ashland, Ky., is member of several hall of fames, including National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. It’s an enjoyable book a sports fan wouldn’t want to miss.
–“The Back Roads to March: The Unsung, Unheralded, and Unknown Heroes of a College Basketball Season” by John Feinstein (Doubleday, $28.95) is a 417-page hardcover that goes deep with players and programs that are not covered very much by the media. The well-known author interweaves stories of lesser-known coaches, players and teams in a thrilling joyride into the heart of college basketball. He also spent some time with former UConn coach Jim Calhoun who came out of retirement to coach at Saint Joseph, an NCAA Division III school.
–“Golf’s Holy War: The Battle for the Soul of a Game in An Age of Science” by Brett Cyrgalis (Avid Reader Press, $28) is a fascinating look at the heated battle playing out from weekend hackers to PGA Tour pros as the world of golf is at a crossroads. With the technological innovations displacing traditional philosophies, the golfing community has split into two combative groups: the old-school teachers and players who believe in feel, artistry, and imagination, and the technically-oriented folks who want to remake the game around data. The author covers golf and hockey for the New York Post.
–“The Slide: Leyland, Bonds, & The Star-Crossed Pittsburgh Pirates” by Richard Peterson and Stephen Peterson (University of Pittsburgh Press, $16) is filled with stories about the baseball Pirates in the past four decades. It begins with the aftermath of the team's 1979 World Series title and ends with its historic 2013 playoff appearance. It also discusses Pittsburgh’s near loss of the franchise in 1985 and the key influence of Syd Thrift and Jim Leyland in developing a dysfunctional team into a division champion in early 1990s, among other items. First published in 2017, the volume became available as a 220-page paperback in March.
–“Strong Like Her: A Celebration of Rule Breakers, History Makers, and Unstoppable Athletes” by Haley Shapley (Gallery Books, $29.99) is a pleasant untold history about strong athletic women. Filled with inspiring stories of female standouts, the 263-page hardcover celebrates strength in all its forms. An exercise enthusiast, the author is a journalist whose articles have appeared in major publications.
--"The Inside Game: Bad Calls, Strange Moves and What Baseball Behavior Teaches Us about Ourselves" by Keith Law (William Morrow, $28.99) is a fascinating hardcover that digs into the hidden biases and motivations behind some of the most famous decisions in baseball history. Combining behavioral science and interviews with executives, managers, and players, the book analyzes baseball’s biggest decision making successes and failures. And these decisions -- good or bad -- are actually what make the game truly special. The author has written baseball articles for The Athletic and ESPN.
–“24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid” by Willie Mays and John Shea (St. Martin’s Press, $28.99) is a reflective and inspirational memoir by one of baseball’s greatest all-around players ever. The 340-page volume offers his lifetime of experience meeting challenges with positivity, integrity and triumph in 24 chapters which correspond with his universally recognized jersey number.
–“Drive: 9 Lessons to Win in Business and in Life” by Kelley Earnhardt Miller with Beth Clark (Thomas Nelson, $26.99) is an inspirational guide to success in business and life learned through the opportunities and challenges of growing up as the daughter of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. The author shares her story in the world of NASCAR and the lessons she has studied in becoming one of the most influential women in professional sports.
--"Intangibles: Unlocking the Science and Soul of Team Chemistry" by Joan Ryan (Little, Brown and Company, $28) highlights the influence of team chemistry in creating success and winning atmosphere. In a groundbreaking investigation, the author writes team chemistry -- or the combination of biological and social forces that boosts selfless effort among more players over more days of a season -- is what drives sports teams toward a common goal, encouraging the players to be the best versions of themselves. While talent alone won't win championships, team chemistry, though, will help. Ryan is an award-winning journalist and author of five other books.
–“Chasing the Cats: A Kentucky Basketball Journey” by Jamie H. Vaught (Acclaim Press, $22.95) is a 256-page paperback filled with fascinating stories about former players, student managers and coaches at University of Kentucky. To be honest, this is a shameless plug since yours truly wrote this volume and I won’t bore you with details. If you’re not too lazy, you can Google online for reviews or articles about the new book.
Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime sports columnist in Kentucky, is the author of five books about UK basketball. He is the editor and founder of KySportsStyle.com Magazine, and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via email at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.