You are here

Sports Illustrated's Top 100 Sports Books of All Time

Sports Illustrated put together the top 100 sports books of all time. Of the titles on their list, 55 titles are available in accessible formats from the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library catalog. Below is the list with the description and call number for books available through WTBBL. 

  1. The Sweet Science, By A.J. Liebling. In this collection of articles on prizefighting, a longtime writer for the "New Yorker" reveals his "fascination with the odd characters who inhabit the world of boxing" as much as his love of the sport itself. From visits to the training camps of opponents to post-fight assessments in the bar, Liebling interweaves sketches of people who follow "the sweet science" with accounts of his personal involvement in the matches. DB 34565.
  2. The Boys of Summer, By Roger Kahn. A former sportswriter for the 'Herald Tribune' writes about the Brooklyn Dodgers of Ebbets Field. He also tells what happened to Jackie Robinson, Carl Erskine, Pee Wee Reese, Preacher Roe, and the other baseball greats of the team. DB 16430.
  3. Ball Four, By Jim Bouton. The author recalls his effort to make a comeback as a big-league pitcher in the late 1960s, revealing inside-the-locker-room details that tarnished the game's wholesome image and made him a persona non grata for years afterward. Edited by Leonard Shecter. Originally published in 1970; includes Bouton's 1990 epilogue. [New York Times bestseller] DB 17098 / DB 77068.
  4. Friday Night Lights, By H. G Bissinger. Odessa, Texas, is dying--stores are closing and people are moving out--and yet it is a town with a dream. For on Friday nights, the football stadium is filled with 20,000 fans cheering the Permian Panthers. Bissinger, who spent four months following the team--on the field and off--and talking with people from all segments of the community, offers a picture of American sports and American culture. [New York Times bestseller] DB 32152.
  5. You Know Me, Al: A Busher's Letters, By Ring Lardner. Mark and Kate sit next to each other in school but are barely acquainted, until they meet at a San Francisco club during Pride Week and help each other over their forbidden crushes. DB 84699
  6. A Season on the Brink: a year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers, By John Feinstein. The author spent the 1985-86 season with the team as coach Knight attempted to lead a miraculous recovery from the debacle of 1984-85 when Indiana finished under 500 for the first time in fourteen years. Offers an inside-the-locker-room peek at the man whom Feinstein portrays as a complete sports dictator, a man incapable of accepting defeat, who can rouse his players to their top performance. DB 25987.
  7. Semi-Tough, By Dan Jenkins. Football player Billy Clyde Puckett of the New York Giants comes to Los Angeles with his pals for an epic duel with the Jets in the Super Bowl. Followed by Life Its Ownself (DB 21223). DB 52159.
  8. Paper Lion, By George Plimpton. After becoming a last-string quarterback for the Detroit Lions, writer Plimpton reveals details of their activities, styles of individuals and coaches, in-game tensions, and off-hours carousing. DB 32938.
  9. The Game: a thoughtful and provocative look at a life in hockey, By Ken Dryden. The former goalkeeper for the Montreal Canadiens describes the world of the locker room, the days and nights on the road, the camaraderie among players, the jealousies, and the game itself. Dryden focuses on the life of an athlete with frank anecdotes and commentary. DB 20824.
  10. Fever Pitch, By Nick Hornsby (1991)
  11. A River Runs Through It, and Other Stories, By Norman MacLean. The author of Young Men and Fire (RC 35639) recreates his early years in Montana. In "A River Runs through It" he reminisces about fly fishing with his brother and father in the 1930s. Other stories deal with summer jobs in logging and firefighting. Some strong language. DB 53083.
  12. Seabiscuit: an American Legend, By Laura Hillenbrand. Recounts the rise of an "undersized, crooked-legged" thoroughbred horse who in 1938 was the year's number-one newsmaker over Franklin Roosevelt, Hitler, and Lou Gehrig. Hillenbrand tells Seabiscuit's story through the three men who made a true long shot into a winner: owner Charles Howard, trainer Tom Smith, and jockey Red Pollard. [New York Times bestseller] DB 51968.
  13. Loose Balls, By Terry Pluto (1990)
  14. Bang the Drum Slowly, By Mark Harris. Bruce, a big league baseball catcher, is slowly dying of Hodgkin’s disease. His teammate Henry, the only person who knows about Bruce’s condition, becomes his protector and champion as a complex relationship develops between the two men. BRA 17278
  15. Heaven is a Playground, By Rick Telander (1976)
  16. Levels of the Gam, By John McPhee (1969)
  17. The Breaks of the Game, By David Halberstam. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who spent the 1979-1980 season with the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team provides a revealing look at the world of professional basketball--the plays, the coaches and owners, the money, the media, the fans, the pressures, and the animosities. [New York Times bestseller] DB 17338.
  18. The Summer Game, By Roger Angell (1972) 
  19. The Long Season, By Jim Brosnan This journal details the daily life of a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds as he plays the 1959 season. [New York Times bestseller] BRA 09487.
  20. Instant Replay, By Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap (1968)
  21. Everybody's All-American, By Frank DeFord. The rise and decline of all-American football hero Gavin Grey is seen through the eyes of his idolizing nephew. DB 18058.
  22. Fat City, By Lenard Gardner (1969)
  23. The City Game, By Pete Axthelm (1970)
  24. The Natural, By Bernard Malamud. Roy Hobbs is a born athlete who should be a baseball hero, but his lifestyle interferes with his career. Roy's misplaced love for Memo Paris, the team manager's niece, overrules his passion for baseball and makes him agree to throw a play-off game. [New York Times bestseller] DB 58059.
  25. North Dallas Forty, By Peter Gent. Gent, a former professional football player, covers eight days in the life of Phillip Elliott and other members of the North Dallas football team. In spite of Elliott's addiction to drugs and alcohol and his involvement with two women, he plays a brilliant game. But his team loses and Elliott finds himself unconditionally suspended. [New York Times bestseller] DB 32552.
  26. When Pride Still Mattered, By David Maraniss. The life and times of football giant Vince Lombardi are chronicled, including his humble beginnings in Brooklyn and his many years in school athletics, before he became head coach of the Green Bay Packers in 1959. Recalls his philosophy of winning and the influences on his life. [New York Times bestseller] DB 49258.
  27. Babe: The Legend Comes to Life, By Robert Creamer. An editor of Sports Illustrated documents the life of Babe Ruth from his early years in a Baltimore reform school to his later success in baseball. Discusses his private life of profligate drinking, eating, and carousing, as well as his legendary career. DB 49636.
  28. The Golf Omnibus, By P.G. Wodehouse (1973)
  29. About Three Bricks Shy of a Load, By Roy Blount Jr. (1974)
  30. A Fan's Notes: a Fictional Memoir, By Frederick Exley. In this humorous yet poignant fictional autobiography, Exley, the son of a hero-worshipped high school athlete, finds himself destined to live out his life as only a fan of football. Yet as he gropes with destiny fate has dealt him, he also finds himself becoming a fan of daily survival. BR 08495.
  31. Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life, By Richard Ben Cramer. Muckraking biography of sports legend Joe DiMaggio, who rose from his Sicilian working-class background in San Francisco to become an American icon. Explores his pivotal games and business decisions, his obsession--and fights--with Marilyn Monroe, his dubious mob acquaintances, his life after baseball, and his lonely death in Florida. [New York Times bestseller] DB 50881.
  32. The Game They Played, By Stanley Cohen (1977)
  33. Veeck as in Wreck: the Autobiography of Bill Veeck, By Bill Veeck and Ed Linn. Reminiscences of a baseball-team owner and operator. Humorous account of Veeck's love affair with the game during a lifetime devoted to it. Covers his involvement with the Cleveland Indians, the St. Louis Browns, and the Chicago White Sox. [New York Times bestseller] DB 54214.
  34. Ben Hogan's Five Lessons, By Ben Hogan and Herbert Warren Wind (1957)
  35. The Worst Journey in the World, By Apsley Cherry-Garrard. Epic tale of two-and-a-half years of exploration and survival in Antarctica as recounted by the youngest member of Scott's last expedition to the South Pole. Describes the difficult crossing of the Beardmore Glacier, Cherry-Garrard's scientific mission to obtain emperor penguin eggs, and his discovery of Scott's body. DB 58594
  36. Beyond a Boundary, By C.L.R. James (1963)
  37. A False Spring, By Pat Jordan (1975) 
  38. Life on the Run, By Bill Bradley (1976) 
  39. The Red Smith Reader, By Red Smith (1982) 
  40. An Outside Chance: Essays on Sport, By Thomas McGuane (1980)
  41. The Unforgettable Season, By Gordon H. Fleming (1981)
  42. The Celebrant, By Eric Rolfe Greenberg (1983)
  43. Big Red of Meadow Stable, By William Nack (1975)
  44. The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, By Bill James (1985)
  45. End Zone, By Don Delillo. Gary Harkness plays college football at an obscure Texas college but worries about the speed and violence of the game. When the coach's constant prodding to "hit somebody, hit somebody," finally gets to him, Gary protests with a hunger strike. DB 35693.
  46. Foul! The Connie Hawkins Story, By David Wolf (1972)
  47. Shoeless Joe, By W.P. Kinsella. A warm-hearted, humorous novel about the power of dreams to breathe wonder into life. An Iowa insurance-agent-turned-farmer hears a voice telling him to build a baseball stadium in his cornfield. He does, of course. There, under the glow of the lights, he and a motley crew of fellow dreamers work out their redemption through the magic of love and baseball. This first novel won a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award. [New York Times bestseller] DB 18921.
  48. Into Thin Air, By Jon Krakauer. A journalist's first-hand report on the ill-fated Mt. Everest expedition of May 1996 in which a freak storm claimed the lives of nine adventurers. Describes the grueling ascent of the climbers, their sense of elation at reaching the peak, and the tragic events that followed. [New York Times bestseller] DB 44525.
  49. Eight Men Out: the Black Sox and the 1919 World Series, By Eliot Asinof. History of the scandal that erupted in 1919 when eight Chicago White Sox baseball players agreed to throw the World Series. Chronicles the story from the conditions that led the players to make a deal with gamblers through the famous 1921 trial. DB 95616.
  50. Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy, By Jules Tygiel. Story of the desegregation of professional baseball, centering on Dodger manager Branch Rickey's hiring of black player Jackie Robinson in the late 1940s. Also incorporates the history of black players from the late nineteenth century to the present. DB 19932.
  51. Laughing in the Hills, By Bill Barich (1980)
  52. Dollar Sign on the Muscle, By Kevin Kerrane (1984)
  53. The Bronx Zoo, By Sparky Lyle and Peter Golenbock. Baseball's celebrated and irreverent relief pitcher recounts what takes place inside the Yankee clubhouse. Includes sketches and insights into each of his teammates, with portraits of Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles, and Goose Gossage. Lyle also describes some of manager Billy Martin's problems and Yankee owner Steinbrenner's curious role. [New York Times bestseller] BRA 16757; DB 13971.
  54. The Professional, By W. C. Heinz. Classic boxing tale of aspiring New York City prize fighter Eddie Brown and his quest for the middleweight championship of the world. Eddie's story and those of his crusty manager, Doc, and other assorted hangers-on unfold through the eyes of sports writer Frank Hughes. 2001 foreword by Elmore Leonard. DB 60300.
  55. The Baseball Encyclopedia, MacMillan (Publisher) (1969)
  56. A Savage Business, By Richard Hoffer (1998)
  57. The Glory of Their Times, By Lawrence Ritter. The history of baseball in the early 1900s as recorded in first-person accounts by twenty-six major league players. Contains the complete text of the 1966 edition plus four later interviews. BRA 01609; DB 48889.
  58. The Complete Armchair Book of Baseball, Edited By John Thorn (1999)
  59. Among the Thugs, By Bill Buford (1991)
  60. Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball, By John Helyar. An economic history of the game and how it is run by money. A reporter for the Wall Street Journal follows crucial moves since the 1960s and shows how each financial gesture made to players, agents, owners, and commissioners has resulted in an increasingly profitable industry. DB 39457.
  61. The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., By Robert Coover. When a lonely accountant devises a baseball game that he plays with dice in his squalid apartment, several boozy, lecherous men join him to form an Association, and constantly intrude on his private life. BRA 04516.
  62. Days of Grace, By Arthur Ashe with Arnold Rampersad. A reserved man despite his fame, late tennis champion Arthur Ashe described the difficulty of being forced to go public with the announcement that he had contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion four years earlier. Even after two heart surgeries, brain surgery, and the AIDS diagnosis, Ashe considered himself a "fortunate, blessed man." He discusses these blessings--his family, career, and beliefs. [New York Times bestseller] DB 35939.
  63. Out of Their League, By Dave Meggyesy (1970)
  64. Golf Dreams: Writings on Golf, By John Updike (1996)
  65. In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle, By Madeleine Blais (1995)
  66. They Call Me Coach, By John Wooden with Jack Tobin. The story of UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. Wooden, originally from Indiana, coached such greats as Gail Goodrich, Frank Slaughter, Walt Hazzard and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This book explains Wooden’s philosophy, as outlined in his "Pyramid of Success." RCW 947.
  67. Cosell, By Howard Cosell. Information on the background and personal life of the controversial sportscaster emerges in this account of his career and personalities he has known. Anecdotes about Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, and Vince Lombardi are included. [New York Times bestseller] BRJ 02414.
  68. Down the Fairway, By Bobby Jones and O.B. Keeler (1927)
  69. Big Game, Small World, By Alexander Wolff (2002)
  70. The Last Shot, By Darcy Frey. Describes the chance for a basketball career as the only hope for many inner-city teens. The author spends a year with young players as they hone their skills to bid for a college scholarship. He describes the recruiting process, showing it as an ugly business dealing in the lives of kids. The author writes fondly of athletes who work hard to perfect their games. DB 42077.
  71. Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder, By Arnold Schwarzenegger and Douglas Kent Hall.Autobiographical account by the several-time winner of the Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia titles relating his tireless struggle to reach the top in his field. Schwarzenegger also describes his diet, exercise, and progressive weight resistance training regimens for developing the body to its full potential. [New York Times bestseller] DB 57392.
  72. Out of the Bunker and Into The Trees, By Rex Lardner (1960)
  73. The Fight, By Norman Mailer. An account of the George Foreman-Muhammad Ali fifteen-round heavyweight boxing championship in Zaire, Africa. Describes the training camps, the fighters’ tactics, and dramatic knockout finish. BR 03005.
  74. Only the Ball Was White, By Robert Peterson (1970)
  75. Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, By Harvey Penick with Bud Shrake (1992)
  76. Whatever Happened to Gorgeous George?, By Joe Jares. A backstage view of some of the most outstanding personalities to grace the pro wrestling ring, including Gorgeous George, Killer Kowalski, Haystack Calhoun, and a host of others. DB 08722.
  77. Annapurna, By Maurice Herzog.A great adventure classic that recounts all the hopes and frustrations of the day-by-day experiences of the French Himalayan Expedition as they successfully scale the mountain Annapurna in the Himalayas. Written by the leader of the expedition. [New York Times bestseller] DB 10283.
  78. The Great American Novel, By Philip Roth. Sportswriter "Word" Smith tells the chaotic history of a forgotten third major baseball league (the Patriot League) and its bungling Ruppert Mundys, a team of misfit leftovers who were rejected for duty in World War II. DB 42148.
  79. Soccer in Sun and Shadow, By Eduardo Galeano (1998)
  80. The Story of American Golf, By Herbert Warren Wind (1948)
  81. Inside Edge, By Christine Brennan (1996)
  82. Farewell to Sport, By Paul Gallico (1938)
  83. Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times, By Thomas Hauser. Hauser states that his goal is to allow people to know the real Muhammad Ali--the man with a gentle and caring heart, a generous nature, and deep personal convictions that he strives to live up to every day. Hauser recounts Ali's life--from his youth in Louisville to his rebirth in the Islamic religion and his semi-retirement in Michigan--as told by family members and colleagues. [New York Times bestseller] DB 33353.
  84. Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?, By Jimmy Breslin (1963)
  85. The Complete Book of Running, By James Fixx.Describes jogging and running in terms of benefits, philosophy, techniques, and personalities. Intended for would-be runners and veterans. [New York Times bestseller] DB 11777.
  86. The Science of Hitting, By Ted Williams and John Underwood (1970)
  87. Only a Game, By Robert Daley (1967)
  88. The Joy of Sports, By Michael Novak (1976)
  89. The Lords of the Rings, By Vyv Simson and Andrew Jennings (1992)
  90. Road Swing, By Steve Rushin. A writer from Sports Illustrated takes a yearlong road trip across America, visiting halls of fame and stadiums while conversing with fans and athletes. Rushin's 23,000 miles of travel take him to Cooperstown, New York; Canton, Ohio; Iowa's Field of Dreams; and the hometowns of some famous heroes. DB 50322.
  91. Golf in the Kingdom, By Michael Murphy. Murphy describes a phenomenal day and night in 1956 when, enroute to India, he stopped off in Scotland to play a round of golf. There he met and played with golf professional Shivas Irons, who altered Murphy’s perception, leaving him shaken and exalted. Murphy relates the Oriental transcendental ideas Irons imparted to him. Prequel to The Kingdom of Shivas Irons (BR 11384). BR 11383.
  92. Game Misconduct, By Russ Conway (1995)
  93. No Cheering in the Press Box, By Jerome Holtzman.Recollections of 18 sportswriters between World War I and World War II. Such by-liners as Dan Daniel, Paul Gallico, Red Smith, and Jimmy Cannon offer sketches of Dempsey, Rockne, Roger Hornsby, Casey Stengel, and many others. BRA 14920; DB 09525.
  94. Beer and Circus: How Big-Time College Sports Is Crippling Undergraduate Education, By Murray Sperber.Chronicles the development of the American university system, the undergraduate subculture, and sports programs within higher education. Argues that greater prominence in athletics means less money spent on academic concerns. Describes corporate sponsorship conflicts and how enrollment often soars following a school's appearance on national television. DB 52838.
  95. The Harder They Fall, By Budd Schulberg (1947)
  96. The Tumult and the Shouting, By Grantland Rice (1954)
  97. Sports World, By Robert Lipsyte (1975)
  98. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, By William Brashler (1973)
  99. The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, By Joe McGinniss (1999)
  100. Little Girls in Pretty Boxes, By Joan Ryan (1995)