Classic Sports Books

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With sports cancelled or postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is worth noting that there are books about sports that might help maintain your sporting interest.  Jeff Pearlman writes sports books. Before he started writing books, he worked for Sports Illustrated for over 6 years. His most famous work at Sports Illustrated is probably the profile of Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker.  His first book was about the 1986 New York Mets.

Books of his that I have read include The Rocket that Fell to Earth (about pitcher Roger Clements), Showtime (about the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers dynasty of the 1980s), Football for a Buck (about the United States Football League), and Sweetness (about Chicago Bear running back Walter Payton).  Pearlman writes about both the good and the bad sides of the game or the teams/players that his books cover. He does not romanticize the game or the players.  He is a fan of the games and that comes through at times.  Pearlman writes good openings for books and good chapter openings.

The Rocket that Fell to Earth is about pitcher Roger Clements, who probably is still best known for his time with the Boston Red Socks but also pitched for the Houston Astros, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the New York Yankees. He started to decline but later his career rebounded (unexpectedly at the time). I liked the book, especially the details about his early years in Boston.

Showtime has a cast of characters including Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Coach Pat Riley, Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, owner Jack Kent Cooke, and James Worthy.  Larry Bird and the Celtics, who played against the Lakers in some of those nine NBA finals series, are also mentioned.  It is a nice look back at a different era of the NBA. 

Football for a Buck is his most recent book and it is about the short-lived United States Football League. That book has an interesting cast of characters including Reggie White, Hershel Walker, Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Burt Reynolds (mentioned in passing as a part owner/public face of a team), and Donald Trump (he owned a team).  The league was in some ways ahead of its time and it was unstable. Franchises came and went, franchises were traded, and some other wild things happened including an incredible game with Kelly and Young that they still talk about all these years later.  

Sweetness is about the late Walter Payton (his nickname was Sweetness), and Payton had an odd sense of humor and there were stories related that I did not know.  The book covers Payton’s life after football and his college career at Jackson State (where he played with some other great players like offensive lineman Jackie Slater).  It is also an interesting book if you are nostalgic about the Superbowl Champions Bears team of 1985.

If you are a sports trivia buff, check out all of Jeff Pearlman’s books in our catalog here! You can put them on hold and pick them up with our Curbside Delivery service, or check out Sweetness on our e-book app!


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