It's the weekend before Christmas and you're tapped out of ideas for whatto get the sports fan who has virtually everything.
Never fear, the third annual "Media Watch Holiday Book Giving Guide'' ishere, to point you in the direction of worthwhile tomes and away from some ofthe dreck that litters bookshelves this time of year.
Right at the top of the "must give" list is "Ain't the Beer Cold,"(Diamond, $21.95) a delightfully nostalgic traipse through the life and timesof one of the area's most beloved announcers, Chuck Thompson, the longtimevoice of the Orioles and Colts.
Thompson, who co-wrote the book with former Associated Press writer GordonBeard, chronicles his life from his Massachusetts boyhood to his early careerin Reading and Philadelphia to his glorious Baltimore days. "Ain't the BeerCold" is refreshingly clear of any of the ego that Thompson is entitled to asa Hall of Fame baseball announcer and should-be football hall entrant.
Also available is last year's "It's a Very Simple Game," (Borderlands,$21.95) the autobiography of the late Charley Eckman, a former NBA referee andlocal broadcasting personality. The book, co-written by Fred Neil, whoproduced Colts radio broadcasts, is full of Eckman's color and candor.
"In the Year of the Bull: Zen, Air, and the Pursuit of Sacred and ProfaneHoops,'' (Simon & Schuster, $23) is a wry account of the Chicago Bulls' marchto last year's championship, written by former Sports Illustrated seniorwriter Rick Telander. Telander, who is a columnist in Chicago, stays away fromfawning over the Bulls and paints a fairly spicy portrait of their run toglory.
Telander's former SI colleague, Rick Reilly, has written an amusing golfnovel, "Missing Links" (Doubleday, $21.95), about three public course rats whobet each other to see who will play an adjacent and exclusive private course.Done the right way, this could make a hysterical movie, but the book issatisfying enough.
Not nearly so satisfying is the self-serving, "Mad as Hell: How Sports GotAway From the Fans and How We Get It Back," (Putnam, $22,95) from New Yorkcolumnist Mike Lupica. Lupica's writing takes on a smug, superior tone, andthe reader is left to ask just where this guy gets off presuming to speak forfans, a club he hasn't belonged to in years.
One of last winter's biggest trends in sports publication, thecoffee-table book that doubles as autobiography, continues this year as two ofthe biggest figures in the NFL try to cash in.
"Rice'' (Opus, $25), the story of San Francisco receiver Jerry Rice, is apeculiarity in that while Rice is listed as a co-author with SI writer MichaelSilver, the book is written as a biography. Miami quarterback Dan Marino's"Marino: On The Record" (HarperCollins, $25) is a more conventionalautobiography, but both ultimately fall short because the books are littlemore than banalities about their respective lives wrapped around prettypictures.
Of greater substance is "Washington Redskins: The Authorized History,"(Taylor, $39.95), an interesting study of the hated football franchise locateddown the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Written by former Sun writer ThomLoverro, now a columnist for the Washington Times, the book is a mostlyflattering chronicle that will appeal mostly to Redskins fans, but is worth aread for anyone who likes football.
Sports fans and non-fans alike will love "Jackie Robinson: An IntimatePortrait," (Abrams, $29,95), co-written by Robinson's widow, Rachel, and LeeDaniels. The book is a powerful telling of the life of the man who brokebaseball's color barrier 50 years ago.
Equally beautiful is "NBA at 50," (Park Lane Press, $50), a spectacularbook of photographs of the first half-century of the league with stories toldby the participants.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun