Holiday Gift List: The 9 Best Sports Books You Have to Read

Kevin W. RyanContributor IIINovember 27, 2012

Holiday Gift List: The 9 Best Sports Books You Have to Read

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    Still think Google is your best source of sports information? I know it's hard to actually sit down and read a 400-page book, but if you want true, uncut sports knowledge, you absolutely have to pick up one of these incredible sports stories.  

    These stories stretch beyond the game that each involves, and the lessons deep within each story are sure to shape a new, positive perspective in your mind. 

    Here are nine incredible sports books you have to read or give to your favorite sports fan during the holidays...enjoy. 

John Daly: All My Exes Wear Rolexes

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    Yes, this guy's life story. 

    I know it might be hard to top any golfer's story that is not named Tiger, but John Daly has a truly incredible story, including how he learned to shape a golf ball on a baseball diamond. 

    The title speaks for the entirety of his dating life, which includes four divorces and a ruthless alimony bill. 

    Daly is also known for his time spent in a bar, which you'll find plenty of information about in the book. 

    Whether you love golf or just hilarious tales of partying, this book is for you. 

West by West

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    To the left of the legendary Pat Riley is the silky-smooth guard who dominated the NBA of the 1960's. 

    Before his historic NBA career, Jerry West followed a national championship at the University of West Virginia with an Olympic gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics. 

    His on-court performances were so legendary that his silhouette is literally is the logo of the NBA. 

    However, what most basketball fans did not know is that West has "a hole in my heart, a hole that can never be filled". 

    Whether you are a registered hoop-oligist or run-of-the-mill basketball fan, West by West is a must read. 

Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton

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    Most people know that iconic No. 34 Bears jersey and remember one of the greatest running backs of all-time. 

    Walter Payton, a.k.a. "Sweetness," left the NFL in 1987 as the league's all-time leading rusher, a feat that many figure would lead to a happy and healthy post-career life. 

    When Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton was released in late September of this year, many found out that it was exactly the opposite. 

    Walter Payton is a true icon and hero to sports fans in Chicago. Try going down Michigan Avenue or Rush Street and not seeing a photo or poster paying homage to Sweetness. 

    For the true Chicagoian, this book is a must read. This near 500-page book can be time consuming, so checking out the condensed version in the October 3 Sports Illustrated would be a good start.  

Moneyball

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    Here's a breakdown of the talent in the American League's Western Division (2012): Josh Hamilton, "King" Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Michael Young, Zack Greinke, C.J. Wilson, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler and on and on...

    Did any of those superstars win their team a division this last year? No, thanks to Billy Beane, Moneyball and his five rookie starting pitchers. 

    The book Moneyball was famously turned into a movie starring Brad Pitt as Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane. Before 2012, Beane was well-known for the incredible 2002 Oakland Athletics season highlighted by an American League record 20 consecutive wins. 

    Moneyball describes how the Oakland Atheltics built a true championship contender out of overlooked and undervalued baseball players. Any baseball fan would enjoy reading Moneyball; however, it's only a matter of time until Moneyball II is released after Beane's historic 2012 American League Division Championship this past October. 

The Game

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    Right now might not be the best time to pick up a book about hockey, given the fact that the NHL is probably the worst run organization in sports history. However, should you feel the need to get in touch with all that is ice hockey, buy this book. 

    The Game by legendary goaltender Ken Dryden was rated as the Greatest Hockey Book of All-Time by Sports Illustrated and top 10 in all sports. Surely, this is a must-read. 

A Good Walk Spoiled

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    John Feinstein has published numerous sports books. However, none stick out to me more than his exploration into the Professional Golf Association. 

    His books like A Good Walk Spoiled and Tales From Q School: A Look Into Golf's Fifth Major tell incredible stories of life on the PGA tour, most notably off the course. 

    Picking up a John Feinstein book is a great gift for any level sports fan. 

Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, And A Dream

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    Like Moneyball, the film versions of Friday Night Lights create a lazier way to see the true story.

    If you want the full, unedited and non-Hollywood version of Texas high school football, picking up the H.G. Bissinger paperback Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, And A Dream is a perfect start. 

    I recently flew into Dallas-Fort Worth airport, and the entire ride in is basically a flyover of incredible high school facilities. Some stadiums rival that of major collegiate programs, including the $60 million Eagle Stadium of Allen High School. 

    Texan pride in high school football is unmatched anywhere in the world, and there is no more famous tale than the Permian Panthers of Odessa, Texas. 

Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty

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    Perhaps more incredible than Friday Night Lights is the story of Jerry Jones' Dallas Cowboys. 

    Jones is the most polarizing owner in sports history thanks to his public involvement in anything that has to do with the Dallas Cowboys. What's even more incredible is how he got there and how he built one of the most famous dynasties in sports history. 

    Boys Will Be Boys retells the lives of everyone in the Cowboys organization by dabbling through stories of sex, drugs, money and championship football. No filters were used in the making of this incredible story, and it is an absolute must-read for any sports fan.  

The Lords of the Realm

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    Major League Baseball lost one of its most influential pioneers on November 26, 2012: Marvin Miller. Miller is not known for an unhittable curveball or game-winning home run, but rather, for founding the Players Association.

    While many of baseball's younger fans can easily knock players like A-Rod and Albert Pujols for signing lucrative contracts, Marvin Miller is the reason that today's ballplayers are treated as actual employees. 

    The book The Lords of the Realm tells a full history, the "real history" of baseball.

    The book's "real history" includes everything from Shoeless Joe Jackson's Black Sox Scandal to a bidding war for Catfish Hunter, but today, no portion of the book means more than the work of the late Marvin Miller.    

    If you are eager to learn the true history behind the game of baseball, then this book is No. 1 on any book wish list.  

     

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