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Sports Book Reviews: Tony La Russa's "One Last Strike" and More

By Harvey Frommer

An avalanche of fall sports books are on the shelves ready for reading. The range of subjects and approaches are amazing. All have something of interest for readers, but topping the list as he topped the baseball world in so many ways is Tony La Russa's "One Last Strike" (William Morrow, $27.99, 420 pages). The price is right and the reading is fascinating.

The book takes one inside the mind of the great LaRussa through the 2011 world championship season of the Cards offering insights and inside baseball that only the legendary Redbird skipper could. The book also offers much more than that - -focusing as it does in intriguing details about personalities like Mark McGwire, Joe Torre, Sparky Anderson, Albert Pujols. Where most "memoirs" are rehashes of news stories - this book breaks new ground fort the genre. MUST HAVE

The story of the man behind the Heisman Trophy is the subject of "Heisman" by John M. Heisman (Howard, Simon and Schuster, $25.00, 248 pages). Written by the subject's great nephew along with author Mark Schlabach, this is a special kind of book for football fans revealing as it was the life and times of its subject - -the man behind the trophy. Archival photos and important research make the book a winner.

"How the SEC became Goliath" by Ray Glier (Howard, Simon and Schuster, $22.99, 245 pages) is an engrossing view revealing the creation of the most dominant conference in collegiate football.

"Baseball is Just Baseball" by David Shields (Blue Rider Press/Penguin, $14.00, 183 pages) is a slim and under-sized attempt to capitalize of the fabulous Japanese star's move from Seattle to the New York Yankees. Nevertheless, this unauthorized collection is serene reading and a provider of insights into the superstar.

"Sandlot Stats" by Stanley Rothman (Johns Hopkins Press, 571 pages) is an over-sized tome that is truly a scholarly labor of love as its sub-title proclaims "learning statistics with baseball." For those interested in the subject - -this is your book - - one that attempts to explain the mathematical anchorage of baseball as a way to understand the universe of stats and probability.

For fans of the Mick - "The Classic Mantle" by Buzz Bisssinger with photographs by Marvin E. Newman (Abrams, $19.95, 114 pages, 50 color and b/w photos) is the book for you. The price tag is a bit hefty for the slim volume but the tome packs a punch showcasing as it does images from Mantle's heyday.

"Lamar Hunt" by Michael MacCambridge (Universal Uclick, $27.99, 416 pages) is a page turning biography by one of the best football writers around. Page after page yields up anecdotes about Hunt's impact on sports- -in fact three sports. Hunt is the only one inducted into three Halls of Fame. Hunt was a man who changed American sports, especially football. This is an important book for all those interested in sports and culture.

From the Clerisy Press comes "Gone Pro Alabama" ($17.95, 368 pages, paper) a book that details the deeds of Crimson Tide athletes who went on to become legends.

In a hockey frame of mind from McClelland and Stewart comes "The Lives of Conn Smyth" ($19.00, 384 pages, paper). This is definitely a tome terrific for those interested in the life story of a true hockey legend.

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Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Baseball Guru *Autographed copies of Frommer books are available.


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