CLEVELAND, Ohio – Several sports titles landed with quite a range of topics, from Olympic history and a deep dive into sports journalism, to a view of basketball from a referee’s vantage, plus motivational and humorous takes. In a year when in-person sports were limited, these books offer a way to catch us up on our pastimes, to be entertained as well as educated. Several of the authors are Clevelanders.
By Jeremy Bhandari, Mango Publishing, 231 pages, $18.95
Sure world-class athletes work hard. But there are strong underlying forces that they rely on to push them to be successful. This book meshes biographical portraits of 16 athletes from several sports with the motivational pillars that they embrace. Each chapter ends with “paramount points,” quick, thoughtful bites worth pondering. Confidence, drive, discipline and much more are covered.
By Alex Harnocz, Ludicrum Press, 315 pages, $14.95
The Northeast Ohio author takes a very unique look at the Indians – or any sport’s team, for that matter – by summarizing each of 162 games culled from 120 years of Cleveland baseball. He imposed two requirements: Entries must account for every game across a 162-game season, and the Indians must have won the game. So Game 65, for instance, is July 10, 1947, when Don Black threw the first no-hitter in Municipal Stadium. That’s followed by Game 66 from July 3, 1939, when Ben Chapman hit three triples. Contemporary games also are included, like Game 69 when Leonys Martin stole home on June 15, 2019. Summaries are one to one and a half pages, and they form a fun vantage that encompasses records, milestones, trivia and history.
By Wayne Stewart, Rowman & Littlefield, 259 pages, $36
The author – who lives in Amherst – offers more than a few chuckles with these comical vignettes from baseball’s colorful characters. Stewart – a prolific writer with almost three dozen titles to his name – mined many sources for the gems found in these pages. He piles anecdotes upon one-liners that will make you laugh. Among the hi-jinks: One ballplayer filled his manager’s bathtub with Jell-O. There’s an entire section on former Tribe hurler Trevor Bauer. The book’s a reminder that there is always room for lighter moments and quips in a day and age when statistics often dominate. As ballplayer Charlie Kerfeld said, “People in New York have black teeth and their breath smells like beer, and the men are even worse.”
By Haley Shapley, Gallery Books, 263 pages, $29.99
Early on the author writes, “As a woman’s belief in her physical prowess grows, it does more than improve how much she can achieve athletically – it also elevates her overall well-being, including emotional, social, and economic health, and these are all signs of strength to strive for. No longer is her body an object to be judged; it’s a vessel to be cultivated, and celebrated.” That mantra drives the book, which is filled with personal challenges and role models. A diverse collection of sports is included for the many subjects featured in these pages, pulled together with an underlying theme: Women can, and should, celebrate and embrace the confidence that comes from inner strength.
By Patrick S. Washburn and Chris Lamb, University of Nebraska Press, 256 pages, $30
Few areas of curriculum have evolved as much as journalism, forcing those in the academic world to constantly stay on top of consumption and technology shifts. The authors’ book – subtitled “A History of Glory, Fame and Technology” – has a lofty subject to tackle, and they do so well. If texts were as interesting and clearly written as this one I’d still be in school. A chapter on ESPN and sports coverage of scandals is especially enlightening. The book serves a multitudinous audience: Students, academics, media members and anyone who wants to gain an understanding of how sports journalism has changed over decades. The authors have Ohio ties: Washburn is professor emeritus at Ohio University; Lamb, a Dayton native, is chair of journalism and public relations at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. (Disclosure: Lamb was my editor years ago at The Daily Iowan.)
By David Cone with Jack Curry, Grand Central Publishing, 385 pages, $17.99 (paperback came out in 2020)
Cone has had a rich career: 17 seasons, including five World Series championships, surgery for an aneurysm, throwing a perfect game. He teams here with Jack Curry, a former New York Times sportswriter. The focus is primarily on pitching but there are many insights and observations from a baseball life, including interactions with umpires and teammates. “Pitching is never simple,” he writes, “not even for those who succeed at the highest levels. It is complex and confounding, daunting and demanding. It is an art that I still study, still adore, still analyze, and, quite honestly, still miss. The lessons about pitching are constant.”
By Deborah Riley Draper and Travis Thrasher, Atria Books, 388 pages, $28.
The Olympics offer a never-ending trove of human-interest stories and, of course, records being set and broken. But few Olympics are as important or as historic as the 1936 Games in Berlin with their ignoble setting and heroic accomplishments. The authors dive into the lives of 18 Black Americans who endured racism in multiple forms: Jim Crow laws at home, Adolf Hitler in Germany. You’ll learn about Mack Robinson, whose more-famous brother Jackie would come to be known a decade later; Louise Stokes and Tidye Pickett, the first African-American women to compete in the Olympics, and many others. Theirs are stories worth telling, and ones that resonate.
By Richard Peterson and Stephen Peterson, Black Squirrel Books, Kent State University Press, 168 pages, $24.95
Rivalries endure for several reasons, but few have seen such a shift in dominance over the decades than the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. The authors cover the rivalry between the teams, separated by 130 miles and a bottomless pit of emotion, jubilation and frustration for their fans. From the Browns’ early, powerful years to the formidable Steelers of the 1970s and the clashes into the 1980s and beyond, the teams traded punches, so to speak, on the gridiron. Chapter breakdown is by decade, culminating with an appendix of outcomes.
By Phil Bova with Nino Frostino, Bovino Publishing, 196 pages, $16.99
OK, we’re squeezing this one in even though it came out in 2019. Bova, who lives in Northeast Ohio, was a veteran college basketball referee. His insights in this breezy read are fun jaunts down basketball’s memory lane. Remember Bobby Knight’s infamous chair-tossing incident? Bova was there. He ranks games (he officiated more than 1,500), arenas, players and coaches, and offers tidbits about a referee’s life, from family to travel and more. Refs are rarely heard from though they draw the ire of fans on a regular basis. It’s always good to check out their perspective when one writes a book.
By Christie Pearce Rampone and Dr. Kristine Keane, Grand Central Publishing, 268 pages, $28
Rampone, who played on multiple gold-medal winning U.S. women’s soccer teams, teams with neuropsychologist Keane to map out a blueprint for dealing with the pressures associated with youth sports. They blend knowledge of neuroscience and parenting skills to help kids – and parents – succeed on and off the playing field. What does mental toughness actually mean? They break down communication skills, dealing with performance anxiety, accountability and more. Key points and tips are included throughout the chapters.
By Steven Blush, Feral House, 319 pages, $32.95
The author dives into World Team Tennis, a mid-1970s phenomenon. It put an individual sport into a team concept, mixed men and women, and invited a colorful flair. This definitely wasn’t stodgy Wimbledon. After an historical overview, each team is given its own chapter. Sports historians and tennis buffs will enjoy. The book was designed by Cleveland’s Ron Kretsch.
Our annual look at the year’s books on cooking, recipes, drinks, wine and beer is out. This year, we looked at 45 titles covering a variety of cuisines and cooking styles.
I am on cleveland.com’s life and culture team and cover food, beer, wine and sports-related topics. If you want to see my stories, here’s a directory on cleveland.com. Bill Wills of WTAM-1100 and I talk food and drink usually at 8:20 a.m. Thursday morning. And tune in at 8:05 a.m. Fridays for “Beer with Bona and Much, Much More” with Munch Bishop on 1350-AM The Gambler.
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