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. A Newsday reviewer called the tale of demons and Giants "the best novel written in the English language since The Great Gatsby."
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.[ New York Times best-seller]
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.[ New York Times best-seller]
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. American readers will need to bone up on the game (the 1983 U.S. edition has a four-page primer), but James's musings on culture and colonialism are worth the effort.
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."