Good books for sports fans


Are you looking for a book or two for your summer vacation? Actually, it’s a very exciting summer for book lovers who also happen to be sports fans.

There is a good collection of recently-published sports books that you may want to take a look at your favorite bookstore or on the Internet. Here are some of my suggestions:

— “Kentucky Colonels: Shots from the Sidelines” (Acclaim Press, $34.95) by Mark Gordon and Lloyd “Pink” Gardner is almost a pictorial history of the popular pro basketball team in Louisville which played during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The stunning 224-page hardcover is loaded with over 400 color and black & white photos taken by Gordon, who was the team’s official photographer. Most of the photos have not been seen before. Gardner, who was the Colonels’ trainer, wrote the captions for the pictures. This book definitely brings back fond memories to the fans who loved the Colonels of the old American Basketball Association, which disbanded and sent four teams to the NBA. It’s a very nice addition to have in your sports library.

— “The Real McCoy: My Half-Century with the Cincinnati Reds” (Orange Frazer Press, $19.95) by Hal McCoy is an entertaining memoir about the Cincinnati Reds. McCoy, a longtime Hall of Fame sportswriter who is also legally blind, gives the fans an inside-the-dugout look that never reach the daily newspaper: the politics, the personalities, the hijinks, the x-rated scenes all the classic ballpark stuff known only to those on the field.

— “The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers” (Little, Brown and Company, $30.00) by Jon Pessah is a fly-on-the-wall account of the men and events that truly changed MLB over the past 20 years. The author, a founding editor of ESPN the Magazine, spent hundreds of hours of interviews with more than 150 people in a five-year period. The 648-page hardcover discusses high-stakes labor wars, remarkable athletic feats, back-room political deals, drug scandals and abuse of power in baseball. It’s a revealing book that you may want to check at your bookstore.

— “No Excuses” (Jeter Publishing, $25.00) by Derrick Coleman Jr. with Marcus Brotherton is an inspirational autobiography about the fullback for Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks because of his deafness. With his upbeat and positive attitude, Coleman has managed to overcome the obstacles put before him.

— “Pedro” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28.00) by Pedro Martinez with Michael Silverman is a bold memoir from one of the most dominant and colorful pitchers to ever play the game. Before Martinez was the eight-time All-Star, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion, he was just a little kid from the Dominican Republic who sat under a mango tree and dreamed of playing professional ball. He now opens up for the first time to tell his amazing story.

— “Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30.00) by Bill Pennington is a new biography about the controversial manager, who was known for his combative and intimidating personality. The 530-page hardcover is written by an award-winning sportswriter who knew Martin well, working closely with him for five years of his life. The author interviewed more than 225 people from family and childhood friends to Yankees players and coaches to come up with a new insightful perspective on Martin. The former New York legend tragically passed away in a car accident 25 years ago.

— “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty” (Simon & Schuster, $27.50) by Charles Leerhsen is a fascinating and authoritative biography of one of baseball’s most controversial stars. Nicknamed the “Georgia Peach,” Cobb — who still has the highest career batting average (.366) of all time after retiring in 1928 — was a fiery competitor. After his death in 1961, Cobb’s reputation took a big hit as folks began calling him a racist, among other things. So who is the real Ty Cobb? After research and traveling to Georgia and Detroit, the author set the record straight and came up with a remarkable 449-page effort that shows the true Cobb.

Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime columnist in Kentucky, is the author of four books about UK basketball. He is the editor of KySportsStyle.com online magazine and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

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