Books on Sports to Fill the Void

The Super Bowl is over.
Baseball won’t start Spring training for another month.
The basketball season is another month away from March Madness and the playoffs.
Hockey is in mid-season.

What is a sports fan to do? I know, read about sports!

I have read dozens of these kind of books and would like to suggest a few. This is by no means a definitive list. In fact, it reflects my own tastes more than anything else. Many of the titles are now out-of-print but I still want to suggest them to you. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below.

Play Ball!


Forty-Eight Minutes: A Night in the Life of the NBA by Bob Ryan and Terry Pluto – Fascinating view of what goes on with a team in a day with a blow-by-blow account of events and the game between the Cavaliers and the Celtics in 1987.

When the Game was Ours by Larry Bird and Ervin “Magic” Johnson – A behind the scenes look at a famous rivalry.

Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association by Terry Pluto – One of my favorite sports books of all time. Everything you ever wanted to know about the founding of the ABA and its eventual merger with the NBA.


I am Third by Gayle Sayers – This was the inspiration for the movie “Brian’s Song.” Takes you into the heart of an athlete and shows that, for some, it is more than a game. Read the book, it will make the movie that much more powerful.

Better Scramble Than Lose by Fran Tarkenton as told to Jack Olsen – Read this when I was a kid and it still resonates.

Long Bomb: How the XFL Became TV’s Biggest Fiasco by Brett Forrest – Sixteen years ago a group of entrepreneurs tried to take on the NFL. Read how and why it didn’t work out the way they planned.


The Umpire Strikes Back Hardcover by Ron Luciano and David Fisher – hilarious look at baseball from behind the plate.

The Rookie – Jerry Jenkins – A delightful novel that has some of the most memorable scenes. Every young baseball player’s dream is realized in this story.

Out of the Blue by Orel Hershiser with Jerry B. Jenkins – The story of one of the greatest seasons for a Major League pitcher ever.


Gretzky: An Autobiography by Wayne Gretzky with Rick Reilly – The “Great One” tells his own story. You’ll read his perspective of “the Trade” that shook the hockey world.

For Kids

I read every one of the Chip Hilton books (by Claire Bee) when I was a kid. B&H publishing brought all 24 of them back in the late 90s. There are still copies available in used form. See the whole series at this link. (Chip Hilton series)

The books by Mike Lupica are perfect for kid who is a sports fanatic. I’ve enjoyed a number of his books as an adult! Check out his site and try one. (Mike Lupica website)

Your Turn!



8 Responses to Books on Sports to Fill the Void

  1. Avatar
    Jackie Layton February 8, 2016 at 5:45 am #

    I Am Third is the only adult book on your list I’ve read. But I read Chip Hilton and any other book on sports and athletes my sons could get their hands on.

    Thanks for sharing this list. I live in Kentucky where we bleed blue, and it’s pretty much basketball season all year long. Playing, recruiting, practicing. There’s always something happening in sports.

    Have a great day!

  2. Avatar
    Mermaid Scribbler February 8, 2016 at 6:42 am #

    This is an answer to prayer! Thanks so much. One of my students has zero interest in school, but he’s a genius. I finally got him to tell me his big dream, and it’s to be a football player, of course! Then, I wake up to find a great list of books about sports. I’ve already ordered one of Clair Bee’s books. Thanks again. A huge help!

  3. Avatar
    Katie Powner February 8, 2016 at 8:00 am #

    I’m always looking for good books for my son, a voracious reader. Does anyone have an idea what grade level the Chip Hilton books are?

    My husband would love the book about the ABA and I’m interested in some of these myself, thanks Steve!

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube February 8, 2016 at 9:59 am #

      I would say the Chip Hilton books work for ages 8-12.

      I read them in 6th and 7th grades.

      They can feel rather dated in places because of the modern equipment used in some sports since they were written over 50 years ago. But they still are timeless in other ways.

  4. Avatar
    Deanna K. Klingel February 8, 2016 at 10:51 am #

    Figure Skating: Cracks in the Ice by Deanna K. Klingel

  5. Avatar
    Joe Plemon February 8, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

    John R. Tunis was my go-to sports writer when I was in grade school and high school (over fifty years ago). I was already a baseball nut, and, starting with “The Kid from Tomkinsville,” I consumed every Tunis book I could get my hands on.

    I ran across an unfamiliar title of his a couple of years ago, so I bought it, read it and was pleasantly surprised by Tunis’ solid writing, engaging plot, and deft knowledge of baseball intricacies. Yes, it’s more for 10-14 year olds, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying it.


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