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The 20 Greatest Sports Books of All Time

5 Books | by Men'sHealth

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights

Books

Is the story of how dreams and reality collide, at once glorious and immensely sad. Because for the 30-odd boys of the Permian Panthers, these days will have been the best of their lives.

Ball Four

Ball Four

Books

The beloved baseball classic now available in paperback, with an updated epilogue by Jim Bouton When Ball Four was first published in 1970, it ignited a firestorm of controversy. Bouton was called a Judas, a Benedict Arnold, and a "social leper" for having violated the "sanctity of the clubhouse." Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn attempted to force Bouton to sign a statement saying that the book wasn't true. Ballplayers, most of whom hadn't read the book, denounced it. The San Diego Padres burned a copy in the clubhouse. It was even banned by a few libraries. Almost everyone else, however, loved Ball Four, and serious critics called it an important document. Fans liked discovering that the athletes they worshiped were real people. Historians understood the value of the book's depth and honesty. Besides changing the public image of athletes, the book played a role in the economic revolution in professional sports. In 1975, Ball Four was accepted as legal evidence against the owners at the arbitration hearing that led to free agency in baseball, and by extension, in other sports. Today Ball Four has taken on another role-as a time capsule of life in the sixties. "It is not just a diary of Bouton's 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros," says sportswriter Jim Caple. "It's a vibrant, funny, telling history of an era that seems even further away than three decades. To call it simply a 'tell-all book' is like describing The Grapes of Wrath as a book about harvesting peaches in California."

A Sense of Where You Are

A Sense of Where You Are

Books

When John McPhee met Bill Bradley, both were at the beginning of their careers. A Sense of Where You Are, McPhee's first book, is about Bradley when he was the best basketball player Princeton had ever seen. McPhee delineates for the reader the training and techniques that made Bradley the extraordinary athlete he was, and this part of the book is a blueprint of superlative basketball. But athletic prowess alone would not explain Bradley's magnetism, which is in the quality of the man himself—his self-discipline, his rationality, and his sense of responsibility. Here is a portrait of Bradley as he was in college, before his time with the New York Knicks and his election to the U.S. Senate—a story that suggests the abundant beginnings of his professional careers in sport and politics.

Open

Open

Books

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLERFar more than a superb memoir about the highest levels of professional tennis, Open is the engrossing story of a remarkable life. Andre Agassi had his life mapped out for him before he left the crib. Groomed to be a tennis champion by his moody and demanding father, by the age of twenty-two Agassi had won the first of his eight grand slams and achieved wealth, celebrity, and the game’s highest honors. But as he reveals in this searching autobiography, off the court he was often unhappy and confused, unfulfilled by his great achievements in a sport he had come to resent. Agassi writes candidly about his early success and his uncomfortable relationship with fame, his marriage to Brooke Shields, his growing interest in philanthropy, and—described in haunting, point-by-point detail—the highs and lows of his celebrated career.

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