None of these are new books, but for me their claim to fame is that they’ve stayed put in my near constant shuffle of sports books over the years.
The Ticket Out is heart breaking. Michael Sokolove writes about the baseball playing Boys of Crenshaw and you ride with him as he dives into their past and surfaces in the now. I wanted to know and didn’t want to know, as I’d grown up watching baseball. Every summer we’d visit my grandparents at the farm and they’d always have the game on so I only ever knew players as players, nothing beyond the field.
Sacred Hoops is one of a few basketball books I have, as I’ve always liked basketball. I might have run around the empty locker room of the Raptors wearing Vince Carter’s game shoes over top of my runners once, actually it was probably closer to three full laps. I picked up this book used and worn, sometime when I was playing. At the time I was trying to understand the impact and the power a coach had on a team. I definitely wouldn’t tell you to run out and grab a copy but that’s why it hasn’t been rotated out of the final four, sheer sentimentality. I’m a sucker for that.
Open by Andre Agassi is appropriately named. It’s candor is ridiculous. He’s so raw about anything he feels and everything he does. I read it when I was finished playing and definitely flinched in parts, but I never put it down. He deftly describes the wrap up of his career and the whole of himself in sports with ideas like – “I can never think how to describe it…more than anything else, it’s a wrenching, thrilling, horrible, astonishing whirl. It even exerts a faint centrifugal force, which I’ve spent three decades fighting.” (Andre was helped by J.R. Moehringer, whose memoir The Tender Bar is really great!)
The Game by Ken Dryden is unmatched and untouchable. That you should read.