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Sports books

Co-blogger John Palmer stuck me with the book tag at The Eclectic Econoclast. I decided to follow through with a twist: I'm limiting my answers to books on Sports. Here are my answers:

1. How many books?
I'd guess I've bought 200 books on Sports alone, and still have half of them. I keep most of the so-so books until the bookshelves need purging, and almost all of the "must-keep-for- future-reference" ones. I give many of the more enjoyable ones a chance at "making the tour."

2. Most recent purchase
National Pastime, by Stefan Szymanski and Andrew Zimbalist
Great book, with a reserved seat on my reference shelf. It's also my most recently read sports book, so in the next category I'll list the book I've got open.

3. Currently reading
Sunday Money: Speed! Lust! Madness! Death! A Hot Lap Around America with Nascar, by Jeff Macgregor
The Nascar juggernaut and its wacky culture, from coast to coast.

4a. Five books that "meant the most"
Among the Thugs, by Bill Buford
Buford traveled with the English hooligans when their lust for violence threatened to destroy European football. A scary book that shook me up and left permanent scars. I lean toward individualist thinking on social matters. But the power of crowds and the apparent irrationality driving them, well illustrated in this book, challenge one's faith in humanity. It moved the needle on my "Adam Smith Dial" away from The Wealth of Nations and towards The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby
I was baptized an Arsenal fan on my arrival in London in 1973. I was thus naturally drawn to Nick Hornby's book on growing up obsessed with English football and the Gunners. Reading Fever Pitch made me a Hornby fan, and I've enjoyed his subsequent work on the modern "male condition" immensely.

Pay Dirt, by James Quirk and Rodney Fort
The Bible of Sports Economics.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend, by Laura Hillenbrand
Rich in historical detail and compelling drama, beautifully written, a masterpiece. It's the best sports biography ever written (if I may be so bold), reflected by the fact that its reception transcended the genre. There are 601 reviews of this book at, averaging 5 stars. Need I say more?

The Sporting News Baseball Register
"Every Player, Every Stat" says the 1999 edition. Well, I'm a stat-head, and the Register was a must-have prior to baseball-reference and sources of similar data on the internet.

4b. Honorable mention baseball books:
Moneyball:The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
Anyone who reads reads books, likes baseball, and hasn't yet read Moneyball is, well.... are you Joe Morganesque?

This Ain't Brain Surgery: How To Win The Pennant Without Losing Your Mind, by Larry Dierker
I'd guess that most readers aren't aware of this book and that only a few of you have read it. That's a shame. Dierker is a great character, combining raw intelligence and an aptitude for study with humility and humor. Those qualities are amply displayed in this fine book.

Baseball: A History of America's Game, by Benjamin G. Rader
If you don't know baseball history, this readable and authoritative account will cure your affliction.

5. My tags
Eric McErlain at Offwing Opinion, Greg and Michael at The Sports Law Blog, Tom Kirkendall at Houston's Clear Thinkers, and John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters.

You guys have been stuck! And please note: it was a fun trip through the past to think about what went on my list, but I won't be offended if you decline.