The 2019 holiday sports book guide: We’ve got more good reads if you’ve got the time
By Tom Hoffarth
We managed to get in about a half-dozen titles in our holiday season Los Angeles Times’ media piece. But there are, of course, more worthy of consideration:
== “The Greatest Upset Never Seen: Virginia, Chaminade and the Game That Changed College Basketball,” by Jack Danilewicz (University of Nebraska Press, 232 pages, $27.95)
As we watched UCLA’s recent trip to the Maui Classic, which found them in a 22-22 tie with Chaminade early in the second half, we couldn’t help but think: Wonder if anyone remembers the time when …
Seems our memory was a bit fuzzy as well.
We were in college ourselves and heard about No. 1 Virginia getting taken down 77-72 by this tiny NAIA Catholic school right before Christmas, 1982. We had always thought it was in the Maui Tournament (or the Hawaii Rainbow Tournament as it was called), but it wasn’t — Ralph Sampson’s Cavaliers were coming back on a stop in Hawaii after a trip to Japan for this one-and-done deal. It became a global story at a time when we had to wait for the news to catch up to us as the game ended past 3 a.m. on the East Coast and wasn’t televised.
Now, it’s more than a Wikipedia entry.
Sports Illustrated didn’t get around to running a story on it until early January the next year. That’s when most of the Virginia players started to wonder — did we just dream that? Why is everyone now treating it in this fashion?
SI also called it “The Greatest Upset Never Seen” in a 2007 Alexander Wolff story if you want the Readers’ Digest version.
As a postscript, we got a note from former Cal State Northridge basketball SID Greg Badovinac, who recalls:
“The following week, between Christmas and New Year, Chaminade came to visit Cal State Northridge in the CSUN Gymnasium (as both were called at the time). It was the largest crowd in the arena with the stands (at the time) on the North side of the gym opened since the NCAA Regionals in the late 1970s. We actually had television media there along with some print reporters. Biggest media attendance I ever dealt with as the basketball SID. But Chaminade beat Northridge that night as we blew our best chance at claiming fame.”
As Danilewicz’s book recounts, Chaminade left home on Christmas Day for a four-game road trip that started with College of Notre Dame in Menlo Park (an 89-78 win), Cal State Hayward (a 105-72 win), San Francisco State (an 80-73 win) and then Cal State Northridge — by a 79-77 margin.
Another fuzzy memory: An illustration done that was in the L.A. Times of Sampson stretched out with tiny Chaminade players tying him down — like Gulliver and the Lilliputans. Where is that drawing? Did we just imagine it? Maybe it was prior to that Chaminade-Northridge game.
Also: A review in the Nov. 22 issue of the Wall Street Journal on the book.
== “What Is A Girl Worth? My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics,” by Rachel Denhollander (Tyndale Momentum, $26.99, 352 pages)
The cover alone is a haunting reminder that this is an issue that won’t go away.
Mark Alesia, a former colleague at the L.A. Daily News who first interviewed Denhollander for the Indianapolis Star, endorses the book: “Denhollander stared down evil and changed the world. Parts of her memoir are heartbreaking, but it is ultimately uplifting, a story of faith, courage, and love. Rachael has become known internationally, but this book goes so much deeper than anything that has been said about her. It is a riveting memoir.”
We mentioned Denhollander’s journey as well as part of the HBO documentary “At the Heart of Gold.”
Denhollander, one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2018 also has a children’s version: “How Much Is a Little Girl Worth”
Also: Denhollander speaks about her book with NPR.
== “Tough Luck: Sid Luckman, Murder, Inc., and the Rise of the Modern NFL,” by R.D. Rosen (Atlantic Monthly Press, $27, 336 pages)
It’s 1935, and a Brooklyn high school football star is dealing with a father making headlines for murdering his brother-in-law, headed to Sing Sing Prison. How did the press basically ignore this mobster father and “Monsters of the Midway” son connection for decades? “This was a hands-off time,” said author Rosen in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “It was a very courteous media that observed the fine line between an athlete’s public and private lives. If I were to speculate, I would say that the thinking was, ‘We love this guy, let’s not saddle him in print with the misdeeds of the father.’ ”
From our reviews in April 2019 of baseball specific titles that we also did in the L.A. Times:
== “Ballpark: Baseball in the American City,” by Paul Goldberger (Knopf/Doubleday/Penguin Random House, $35, 384 pages)
As we reviewed in April, and then did a Q&A with Goldbergeron the possibility of what a ballpark in Long Beach might look like if the Angels were at all interested.
== “They Bled Blue: The 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers: Fernandomania, Strike-Season Mayhem and the Weirdest Championship Baseball Had Ever Seen,” by Jason Turbow (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 360 pages). As we reviewed in April.
== “Grassroots Baseball: Where Legends Begin,” by photographer Jean Fruth (Sports Publishing, $60, 224 pages)
A recommendation we made in an L.A. Times sports media column back in September. And we’re sticking to it.
== “Inseparable: How Family and Sacrifice Forged a Path to the NFL,” by Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin (with Mark Schlabach, Thomas Nelson Books, $26.99, 219 pages)
The story of the Seattle Seahawks teammates will eventually become a movie, as we found out during research for a Sports Business Journal piece about the history of the NFL in films. Mark Ciardi, whose Mayhem Pictures is in the process of doing the movie, told us: “You want the stories of the underdogs, like (Vince) Papale (in “Invincible,”) and the rookies whose journey is just about getting there and make that big play at the end. Some of the best movies are about the small victories that sometimes barely get on anyone’s radar. But they really are remarkable and impactful and wonderful.” This story is how the twins from Central Florida have made it this far – particularly Shaquem, whose prenatal condition led to having his hand amputated at the age of 4 – and become, well, inseparable.
Also: More from “Inside Edition”and NBC Sports Northwest
== “Three Seconds in Munich: The Controversial 1972 Olympic Basketball Final,” by David A.F. Sweet (University of Nebraska Press, $29.95, 225 pages)
New perspective by the USC journalism grad about the U.S. team’s loss to the Soviet Union at the Summer Games otherwise remembered for Israeli hostage killings. The U.S. college team with players aged 20-to-23, and coached by Hank Iba (with Don Haskins as an assistant) going up against USSR professionals most notably included Doug Collins, Tom McMillen, Bobby Jones and Tommy Burleson, but Dwight Jones and Tom Henderson were the key stat leaders, and they had Long Beach State’s Ed Ratleff coming off the bench.
Also: A piece with Sweet in Forest & Bluff Magazine.
== “My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me and Ended Up Saving My Life,” by Ryan O’Callaghan with Cyd Ziegler (Edge of Sports, $29.99, 232 pages)
The 6-foot-7, 330-poundNew England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lineman out of Cal (blocking for Aaron Rodgers) who came out as gay in 2017, six years after ending his NFL career, co-authored with the co-founder of Outsports.com, where the story first was published in ’17.
Also: Stories on the book with O’Callaghan in USA Today, The Boston Globe, NBC’s Today Show, and CBS “This Morning”
== “Before The Lights Go Out: A Season Inside a Game on the Brink,” by Sean Fitz-Gerald, (McClelland & Stewart, $29.95, 304 pages) about whether it’s too late to save the future of hockey based on its present condition.
== “Beating the Odds In Hockey and Life,” by Eddie Olczyk (Triumph Books, $28, 336 pages). The one-time Kings player takes his through his recent cancer battle — and the fact he’s the first American-born ex-NHL player to be on a national NHL broadcast team. We gave a shout-out to this L.A. Times piece in October. A book excerpt is here.
== “UCLA Basketball Encyclopedia: The First 100 Years,” by Spencer Stueve (Sports Publishing/Skyhorse Publishing, $26.99, 288 pages)
== “Classic Krakauer: Essays on Wilderness and Risk,” by Jon Krakauer (Anchor Publishing/Penguin Random House, $15, 192 pages).
== “Tiger Woods’s Back and Tommy John’s Elbow: Injuries & Tragedies That Transformed Careers, Sports and Society,” by Jonathan Gelber, MD, MS (Sports Publishing, $25.99, 216 pages)
== “Life Is Short and So Am I”: My Life Inside, Outside and Under the Wrestling Ring,” by Dylan”Hornswoggle” Postl (with Ross Owen Williams and Ian Douglass, ECW Press, $24.95, 360 pages)
== “Bodies Built for Game: The Prairie Schooner Anthology of Contemporary Sports Writing,” edited by Natalie Diaz (University of Nebraska Press, $26.95, 328 pages)
== “NFL 100: A Century of Pro Football,” edited by Rob Fleder (Abrams Books, $50, 228 pages)
== “Waves: Pro Surfers and Their World,” by Thom Gilbert (Abrams Books, $35, 240 pages). Exquisite photography and gritty commentary.
== “Fletcher: A Lifetime in Surf,” by Dibi Fletcher (Rizzoli Books, $55, 240 pages). A visual memoir from bathing-suit model mom (Dibi) from San Clemente connecting with Malibu competitive surfer Herbie (the first ever white member of the beach boys at Waikiki), then raising their sons Christian and Nathan, then their skating-phenom grandson, Greyson. They’re not counter-cultural icons with a love of art, fashion, music and … surf.
== “Art On Deck: An Exploration of Supreme Skateboards From 1998-2018,” by Byron Hawes (powerhouse Books, $65, 352 pages). The exclusive edition of copies selling in Urban Outfitters stores has a black cover, and it’s a white cover in book stores.