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Hudy’s Hardcovers: The Best of 2005

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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: Hudy’s Hardcovers: The Best of 2005

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Hudy’s Hardcovers: The Best of 2005

This past year saw some of the best and the worst books to be reviewed as a Hudy Hardcover. There were highs from new authors, lows from some of the big names. Former athletes made us laugh, some cringe and others join the cast of “The Surreal Life.”
To start the year off right, he’s a look at the Top 10 Hudy’s Hardcovers of 2005.
Here's the short list:
1. Stride for Stride: The Legacy of Bright Dawn by Thomas Marshall
2. Where Dreams Die Hard by Carlton Stowers
3. Tale of Two Cities by Tony Massarotti and John Harper
4. First in Thirst by Darren Rovell
5. Slim and None by Dan Jenkins
6. Win it for… by Sons of Sam Horn
7. Travel Team by Mike Lupica
8. Boys of Winter by Wayne Coffey
9. The Pitch That Killed by Mike Sowell
10. The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King by Michael Craig

No. 1 Stride for Stride: The Legacy of Bright Dawn
By Thomas Marshall

First-time author Thomas Marshall hits a home run with his first novel about two horses born in Ireland, one an amazing colt the other a beautiful, but smaller mare. The birth of the second, the mare, is kept a secret until the mare becomes a winning horse in her own right.
The book is the jumping off point for Marshall, allowing the story line to grow and allow for both a continuation of the lives of both horses as well as at least one back story.
It is a heart-warming work of how these animals truly touch the lives of the characters as well as leap into the heart of the reader. With any luck another Marshall work will land on the shelves in 2006.
No. 2 Where Dreams Die Hard
By Carlton Stowers

The only difference between most of the squads competing in the United States and the 112 public high school teams competing throughout Texas, is that they do it a little differently. For those smaller Lone Star Schools, whose student enrollment falls below 100, they play under their own Friday Night lights in the glorious game of six-man football.
Author Carlton Stowers became tired of his own newspaper’s front pages, dedicated to the misdoings of others, bombings and mayhem he had seen from a news reporter’s eyes. He made the decision to turn his reporter pen and pad towards a quieter town, in a quieter portion of Texas and follow the world of six-man football for a season. His travels took him to the small town of Penelope and it’s populous of 211 residents and the Wolverines six-man football team.
It’s a book about football, about life, pain and suffering, but also about wins and losses, a winner for any football fan.
No. 3 Tale of Two Cities
By Tony Massarotti and John Harper

While this 2005 release has the familiar ring of the classic written by Charles Dickens, it took two authors to produce a work that is worthy both of the name and the plot line of this modern day baseball classic.
Baseball beat writers John Harper of the New York Daily News and Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald have shared writing space as well as barbs about their two hometown teams and now take their grievances public in “A Tale of Two Cities.”
The idea for the book took shape just moments after Aaron Boone’s ALCS-winning homer cleared the fence at Yankee Stadium in 2003. The two minds agreed that their combined beats and insights gave the reader a truthful and exciting behind the scenes look at this historic battle.
Whether your bed sheets have Yankee pinstripes on them or you are a member of Red Sox Nation, “Tale of Two Cities” gives “your guy” a chance to argue for your favorite team.
No. 4 First in Thirst
By Darren Rovell

You’ve seen it on the sidelines of football, basketball, baseball and soccer. It comes in big orange coolers and in little green paper cups. It has been drunk, spit out and often poured over a coach. Along the way, millions of people have had a drink of that green colored sport drink.
Now,’s business reporter Darren Rovell takes the reader into the laboratory, along the sidelines and into the board room of the sports drink juggernaut Gatorade and how it claimed an 80 percent share of the sports drink industry.
Rovell reveals the drinks putrid taste beginnings, to the science inside and the lawsuits along the way. Whether you have drunk it, poured it on a coach or are working towards your own MBA, “First in Thirst” should be on your bookshelf.
No. 5 Slim and None
By Dan Jenkins

Author Dan Jenkins provides a follow-up to his earlier golf fiction work, “The Money-Whipped Steer-Job Three-Jack Give-Up Artist,” returning PGA golf professional Bobby Joe Grooves onto the Tour in “Slim and None.” Grooves is a forty-four year old tour pro who has the unpopular label of having yet to win a major championship and the clock is ticking.
“Slim and None” follows Grooves on the tour and during his rounds at all four professional golf majors, giving the reader the behind the greens look at what life on the PGA tour is like.
Jenkins utilizes his experience following the game, utilizing real-life nicknames, facts, and subbing several characters for current real-life golf personalities. Along with the names and faces, Jenkins provides real-life voices as well as profanities from several of those characters which may be the only turn-off for some readers.
No. 6 Win it for…
By Sons of Sam Horn

Courtesy of Al Gore himself gave birth to sports chat rooms and message boards and in 1998 a Red Sox message board was born. Due to its popularity the site crashed in 2000 and it was recreated by fan Eric Christensen with a new server and new name,
It is from those 1,900 members of Red Sox Nation that Christensen culled his book of postings during the 2004 season.
There are postings for winning it for former Red Sox players, deceased friends and family members along with the future of Red Sox Nation. Some are funny, some are sad, but all are from true fans. For any current or former resident of Baastan, rooting for their ‘Boys, bring a box of tissues and enjoy the sense of belonging in Red Sox Nation.
No. 7 Travel Team
By Mike Lupica

New York Daily News columnist and ESPN Sports Reporter panelist Mike Lupica once again takes the reader on a believable journey in his novel, “Travel Team.” Whether the author used his own experience with youth basketball or borrowed a few horror stories from his own children, Lupica’s fiction is entertaining, witty and draws the reader close to the book’s hero, Danny Walker.
Easily compared to “The Bad News Bears” and “The Mighty Ducks,” “Travel Team” revolves around the small world, literally, of Danny Walker and his seventh-grade travel basketball team. Readers throughout the nation can relate to the conversations revolving around travel ball, tryouts, playing different town teams and most importantly, making final roster cuts.
Lupica takes the reader back into the classroom and the hallways of junior high school and reminds us how cruel other children can be and how important everything can seem at that age.
No. 8 Boys of Winter
By Wayne Coffey

It was 25 years ago that the small town of Lake Placid became the center of the universe for Olympic history and along with it a ‘miracle.’ Every adult who things of the ‘Miracle on Ice’ can remember where they were whey they hear ABC’s Al Michaels call those final tape delayed seconds of American history as a group of brash amateurs defeated the Russians, 4-3, on their way to a gold medal in ice hockey at the 1980 Olympic Games.
While the names Herb Brooks, Mike Eruzione and Jim Craig fall off the tongue of anyone who thinks of that fateful night in Lake Placid, Daily News sportswriter and author of more than 30 books, Wayne Coffey, makes it his mission to point out the names of the heroes we worshiped during that glorious contest.
What makes “The Boys of Winter” riveting is Coffey’s ability to recount each period, each score and along they way remind the reader that champions are not built singularly, but most successfully as a team.
No. 9 The Pitch That Killed
By Mike Sowell

Ray Chapman was a shortstop for the 1920 Cleveland Indians and Carl Mays was a submarine style starting pitcher for the New York Yankees. The lives of the two men became intertwined in baseball history during an afternoon game on August 16, 1920 at the Polo Grounds.
It took only a matter of seconds, from Mays’ wind-up, his right shoulder dropping to deliver the ball and then history, the ball striking the left side of Chapman’s head.
As the title infers, Chapman never survived that fatal pitch, Mays was never looked at the same way again and a city, Cleveland, found a way to manage the pain associated with the loss of one of their favorite sons.
Sowell utilizes his writing talents to draw the reader into the historic period along with the lives of the primary characters as well as those famous names who surrounded them. The author brings the era to life with statements and facts from players of the day, including Cleveland player-manager Tris Speaker and New York Yankee manager Miller Huggins.
No. 10 The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King
By Michael Craig

Poker is one of today’s fastest growing types of entertainment and author Michael Craig’s latest work, “The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King” is the inside look at the world of high-stakes poker.
With an appreciation for the game of Texas Hold ‘Em, Craig takes the reader on a trip that spanned more than three years, involved thousands of hands of poker among some of the best known names in the world of poker along with a new face, that of banker Andy Beal.
With the help of the famous Doyle Brunson, Beal got his wish and was playing heads up against the likes of Doyle Brunson, Jennifer Harman, Todd Brunson, Johnny Chan and “the professor” Howard Lederer.
“The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King” chronicles Beal's trips to Las Vegas over a three-year period, his continuing practice at the game as well as his focus on his business interests. The work culminates in a private table $10 million winner-take-all showdown.
There were also some duds along the way that couldn’t be mentioned in the 2005 Top 10. Here’s hoping that 2006 can bring out an even stronger list for Hudy’s Hardcovers.


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