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THE TOP 100 SPORTS BOOKS OF ALL TIME
Pete McEntegart
December 16, 2002
In the early 1900s editor Maxwell Perkins told anyone who would listen that Chicago sports columnist Ring Lardner was the most talented writer he knew, high praise given that Perkins's stable included Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. It shouldn't have come as a shock, though. Many of the country's best writers have long been fascinated with sports, and that passion shows up in their prose. After all, when done right, sportswriting transcends bats and balls to display all the traits of great literature: incision, wit, force and vision, suffused with style and substance. Herewith the editors of SI's favorite sports books, compiled with love and reason, out of intense and sometimes unruly discussions.
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December 16, 2002

The Top 100 Sports Books Of All Time

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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.[ New York Times best-seller]

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.[Out of print]

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.

67 Cosell
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.[Out of print][ New York Times best-seller]

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."

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