8 Great Sports Books for Father’s Day

You don’t have to love sports to be a great dad, but there are some great books out just in time for Father’s Day  this year that will make great gifts for the dads who do. These books offer unique insights into beloved games and beloved athletes, and each has distinctive take (baseball as architecture; basketball as a business) that offers something to a wide variety of readers.

All the Way: Football, Fame, and Redemption (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Joe Namath with Don Yaeger
Fifty years after Namath lead the New York Jets to a Super Bowl victory against the Baltimore Colts, the icon tells the story of his journey from small-town Pennsylvania kid to sports legend. Across half a century, Namath spent time at the height of celebrity, but also dealt with debilitating injuries that contributed to addictions to painkillers and alcohol. Here, he reveals that the charmed life he appeared to lead masked real challenges that played out both publicly as well as privately—at least until now. It’s a story of incredible triumphs, incredible lows, and, ultimately, redemption.

108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game, by Ron Darling
Following a storied career as an MLB pitcher, Darling has spent the last two decades as a color commentator. His connections to the game, and to its great players, go deep and wide. Here, he takes a “six degrees of separation” approach to his many instructive stories and anecdotes—as a player and reporter, he’s interacted with just about everyone who’s put on a uniform since the early ’80s. Those people, in turn, have shared with him stories of lives and careers that go back much further, to Babe Ruth and the giants who played the game in the early twentieth century. Through these 108 tales, Darling has constructed a history of the game through the people who love it.

K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches, by Tyler Kepner
It’s the moments that make the game—instants that determine victory or defeat; seconds that can make history. Here Tyler Kepner recounts the history of baseball in such moments, focusing on the subtle and indispensable art of the pitch. Each chapter examines a different type of pitch (Sliders; Curveballs; Spitballs…they’re all here) and introduces the key figures and games during which a tiny calibration on the part of a pitcher changed everything. Alongside Kepner’s passionate analysis, some of the best pitchers in history offer their own insights. It’s an indispensable look at the ways in which a tiny piece of leather can make and break careers.

My Dad, Yogi: A Memoir of Family and Baseball, by Dale Berra with Mark Ribowsky
Everyone, baseball fan or otherwise, knows Yogi Berra—his mastery of the game as a New York Yankee and his management of a championship Mets team made him a sports icon, but his personality and… unique speaking style, peppered with his signature Yogi-isms, made him a household name. But no one knew the real Yogi like his family, and here, his son Dale tells his own story of life with the American giant. Dale was blessed with a unique view of baseball and its great platers from an early age, and eventually followed in his father’s footsteps before a drug scandal put an end to his career. Through it all, Yogi supported his son and stayed close to him, and in this new memoir, Dale offers a one-of-a-kind perspective on the baseball great.

LeBron, Inc.: The Making of a Billion-Dollar Athlete, by Brian Windhorst
Sports is a business, something that some of the best players in history have understood intimately—few more than LeBron James, who was Cleveland’s favorite son before he became a global brand. Windhorst’s book tells of the intersection between sports and business as it recounts the story of James’ road to becoming a billionaire business mogul who changed the way that athletes manage their careers. It wasn’t always a smooth road, and Windhorst reports on the setbacks and failures that came along with the successes. It’s the perfect read for anyone interested in the business side of basketball.

Just Show Up: And Other Enduring Values from Baseball’s Iron Man, by Cal Ripken Jr. and James Dale
The Iron Man of baseball holds many records, but one of the most impressive is for his trek of consecutive games: he played 2,632 in a row, an impossibly high number that only Lou Gehrig before him even approached. It was seemingly destined to happen: Cal Ripken, Jr. grew up with his legendary father, coach and manager of the same Baltimore Orioles that the son ultimately joined. There are very few people with this level of insight into the game, but Ripken has even more to say: he also spent most of the last two decades as an analyst, entrepreneur, and author. In his latest book, he’s offering up the lessons he’s learned throughout all of it, talking about sports, business, and how to live life to its fullest.

Ballpark: Baseball in the American City, by Paul Goldberger
Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural expert Goldberger looks at baseball through the ballparks that draw us in. Beginning in the mid-1800s, the venues that have hosted baseball players and fans have reflected not only the history of the game, but our ever-changing communities—often becoming central hubs of urban development. Over more than a century, the structures have changed to reflect not just the growing needs of the game, but our own broader social and economic realities. This attractive, thoroughly illustrated guide consider the baseball stadium from the primitive early days into the future, imagining the ultra-modern, yet-to-be-completed structures of the near future.

WWE SmackDown 20 Years and Counting, by Dean Miller and Jake Black
Twenty years, five networks,  and over a thousand episodes of SmackDown are celebrated in this impressive anniversary volume. All of the weekly event’s greatest matches and most dramatic moments are explored in depth, as are the personalities that made them possible: names like The Rock, Jon Cena, The Undertaker, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. It’s a gorgeous celebration of WWE, and a slammin’ gift for any wrestling fan.

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