General interest, major value:
== “On The Origins of Sports: The Early History and Original Rules of Everybody’s Favorite Games,” by Gary Belsky and Neil Fine, Artisan Press, 256 pages, $19.95 (released April 19).
The blurb: For $20, there may be no better investment in a book that encompasses not only all the nuances and ready-known parts of what goes into a sport, but a visual display that is really unmatched by Sarah Rutherford. We know there are rules for everything. But did you know: The first rule of the Naismith “Basketball Ball” game in 1891 called for “The ball to be an ordinary Association foot ball.” Meaning, a soccer ball. Kick that around. The first UFC rules in 1993 included Rule 2: “Fight to be held in a circular pit, 20 feet in diameter (to be designed by John Milius).” Milius was a Hollywood screenwriter, and the “pit” was replaced by the octagon with a fence around it. Here, there’s also a timeline of how fantasy sports goes back to 1951 with the creation of the American Professional Baseball Association game that used dice to determine outcomes (10 years before Strat-O-Matic), and the 1963 introduction of “GOPPPL” (The Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prediction League), which started with eight people in the Oakland Raiders’ front office, including team broadcaster Bob Blum. It’s worth going back to find their 2007 project, “23 Ways To Get To First Base: The ESPN Uncyclopedia,” which is in need up dating (especially the list of every athlete who has guest-starred on “The Simpsons.”)
== “Hound of the Sea: Wild Man, Wild Waves and Wild Wisdon,” by Garrett McNamara with Karen Karbo, Harper Wave books, 304 pages, $26.99 (released Nov. 15) The blurb: The vibe is very much like the recent Pulitzer Prize winning “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life,” by William Finnegan, which came out in paperback last April. It’s about insecurities, fears and challenges for McNamara, once credited with surfing a record-height 100-foot wave in Portugal in 2013, which broke his own record of 78 feet two years earlier. McNamara is a touchy, feely guy and explains how he got to this crest in his life. His description as well about what a wave can feel like is enough to knock you off your moorings: “As I fall, my board shoots out from under me. The lip of the wave explodes square on my shoulders and head. The muffled sound of the surf roars. Underwater, I feel something hit me on the back of the head. At first I think I’ve hit a rock but below me is nothing but sandy bottom. The realization that I’ve kicked myself in the head with my own heels brings with it a surge of nausea.” Barrel up to that.
== “Freedom Found: My Life Story,” by Warren Miller, Warren Miller Company publishing, 512 pages, $29.95 (released Sept. 1). The blurb: Those who grew up watching his ski films know his legacy in that business, and when he left it behind, the monotone home-movie reel feel really wasn’t the same. Now they get to relish in his telling his own life story.
== “Baseball America’s Ultimate Draft Book: The Most Comprehensive Book Ever Published on the Baseball Draft: 1965-2016,” by Allan Simpson, Baseball America books, 768 pages, $44.95 (released Oct. 11). The blurb: Yes, it’s an expensive proposition, but also the size of a phone book (as your grandparents about that) as Simpson, the founding editor of Baseball America, goes back to a time when no one except his company covered the MLB draft (the first overall No. 1 choice is … of course, Rick Monday, out of Arizona State). It’s 50 years later and who better than to chronicle its history — hits, misses and other surprises. Continue reading