Top 5 Sports Books



Dryden's book elevates the game to another level

Is Ken Dryden’s THE GAME the best sports book of all time. What do you think?


The fall book launch season is upon us and many new sports books will be on the shelves for holiday shoppers. What is your favorite book of all time about or inspired by sports, and why? Use the comment section to put forward up to 5 from your list. For each book, give at least one sentence explaining why.

Here are my Top 5 sports books


The Game, by Ken Dryden

An original re-telling of one of the Montreal Canadiens’ great seasons, it is perhaps the finest mix of sports analysis and anecdotes that I have read.


King of the World, by  David Remnick

Book reveals depth and importance of Muhammad Ali – easily the most interesting and intriguing athlete of my lifetime.


Into Thin Air, by John Krakauer

Never thought mountaineering would make my list, but this book is gripping and underscores the importance of preparation.


Ball Four, by Jim Bouton

Made me laugh and opened my teenaged eyes wide.


Orr on Ice ,by Bobby Orr and Dick Grace

First book I ever read, and at age 6, I was mesmerized by the photos of my favorite hockey defenseman of all time.


6 responses to “Top 5 Sports Books

  1. Here are 5 books about sports for dads and kids that we recommend:

    Dad, Jackie and Me – mixes the story of Jackie Robinson, a young boy’s love of baseball, life in Brooklyn in the 40’s, and the experience of growing up with a father who is deaf

    The Babe and I – a boy finds a way to help both his family and his father – with a little help from none other than the Yankee’s famous Babe Ruth

    Take Me out to the Ballgame – a young boy and his male caregiver go out to a ballgame, with text from the lyrics of the popular song

    Fishing in the Air – a boy goes on a fishing trip with his father, catching memories instead of fish

    Two-Minute Drill – the new kid at school, and just wants to fit in. He’s the“smart” kid, but all he really wants to do is play football.

    Hot Hand – Billy Raynor lives for basketball, and his problems all disappear on the court. Or at least they would if Billy’s dad wasn’t also his team’s head coach.

  2. Bob-sorry for the late response

    top 5 are:

    1-the wrong stuff-bill lee
    fun stuff from the spaceman on the red sox and the expos in their glory years in the early 80’s

    2-ball 4-jim bouton
    first realization that sports stars were human

    3-the game-ken dryden
    captures the essence of hockey

    4-the bronx zoo-sparky lyle
    -hilarious account of the bronx bombers

    5-pitcher’s duel-claire bee
    -a series of books about chip hilton set in high school/university-24 in the series and a nod to my childhood and the love of reading that these books helped foster

  3. Are these supposed to be the “best” books? Favorites? Most important? Anyway, in no particular order:

    Ball Four, by Bouton: For better or worse, this changed the way we look at our sports heroes.

    The Glory of Their Times, by Ritter. Gives lie to the impression that ballplayers in the early 20th century were dumb hicks. The audio version is even better, since the author couldn’t edit the players comments as he did, according to several sources (most recently Rob Neyer in The Big Book of Baseball Legends), in the print version.

    The New Bill James Historical Abstract. Gives a good overview of James’ writing: witty, on the mark, and thought-provoking.

    The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, Third Ed, by Dickson. Combines to of my interests: baseball and etymology.

    And anything of a sports nature by George Plimpton, who didn’t invent embedded journalism, but made other sportswriters jealous for years.

  4. 1) Eight Men Out. While a lot of research has been done on the Black Sox scandal of 1919 in the last 40 years, this is still the best book ever written on it.

    2) Ball Four. Jim Bouton exposes the reality of being a big leaguer in the 1960s.

    3) Baseball. The companion book to Ken Burns’ epic documentary is the ultimate guide to baseball’s beautiful, if not perfect, past.

    4) Moneyball: If you want to understand the Theo Epstein and Alex Anthopoulos GM reality of the last decade, this book is where you start.

    5) Juiced. No one gives any credit to him, but Jose Canseco seems to be the only Major Leaguer to have told the truth about this. Virtually all of the allegations made by Canseco in this book have been proven true.

  5. Bob, great topic. My five would be:

    1. Shoeless Joe – WP Kinsella – The book that inspired the movie “Field Of Dreams” reveals that the games live in our hearts and imaginations.

    2. Final Rounds – A Father, A Son, The Golf Journey of a Lifetime – James Dodson – The sport in my house and in all of my extended families houses was golf. This is a beautiful story of connection between father & son.

    3. Tiger – A Hockey Story – Tiger Williams – While most kids grew up dreaming of being a goal-scorer. I wanted to drop the gloves like my hero Tiger.

    4. Game Misconduct – Russ Conway – The man who’s writing brought down one the most powerful men in hockey history, Alan Eagleson.

    5. The Game – Ken Dryden – Has to be the greatest love poem ever written to hockey.

  6. Hi Bob – great blog!! I’m a big fan

    OK – apologies for the ensuing run-on sentences!! (books listed in no particular order – would be my 5 on a deserted isle kinda thang)

    1) 7 Seconds Or Less – SI sportswriter Jack McCallum ’embeds’ himself with the Phoenix Suns for the NBA team’s 2005-2006 season – smart, behind the scenes all access, featuring THE Coolest of all Sporting Canucks – Steve Nash

    2) Men At Work – George Will
    I don’t care for George’s politics, but man, he knows baseball. This 1991 work breaks the game into 4 essential ingredients (hitting, pitching, fielding & managing) as Will leans on Tony Gwynn, Orel Hershiser, Cal Ripken & Tony LaRussa* to help him get to the nitty-gritty of each. A big sentimental fave of mine as it was a gift from my late father.
    * was he drinking when he hired Big Mac as hitting coach? Fine PR move, bad baseball move for the Birds
    3) The Game – Ken Dryden
    Any kid growing up in Montreal in the 70’s has to have this book on the shelf. Wait, every hockey fan has to have this book on the shelf.
    4) Tarkenton – Jim Klobucher
    This book starts off in the dressing room after the Vikes’ heart-breaking loss in the 1975 NFC Championship game. Tarkenton not only loses the game, but is notified that his preacher father has had a fatal heart attack while watching at home with his (Fran’s) brothers. (When reading this for the first time – I felt bad for throwing a mini-tantrum at my Grandparent’s house in Iowa at the time “Wasn’t that a flag, Dad?!!” Pearson interfered!!!”) Best part is that the chapter is written (likely, as Fran seems like a bright guy) by Tarkenton himself – he and the author alternate handling the chapters throughout.

    5) LEAFS’ abomiNATION – pretty new, written by 2 of my fave local (that’s Toronto) sportswriters – Dave Feschuk (Star) and Michael Grange (Globe). Great exercise? Read The Game by Dryden, then this book immediately after …not too hard to see why The Habs have won a cup (or 10!!) since 1967 while the Leafs haven’t been close.

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