It’s summer time. Time to hop in the car, head for the beach (don’t forget to stop at the service station and have the guy in the Yankee cap fill up your tank) and relax with a good book.

Here are some sports books that should help you pass the time. Sorry, all are non-fiction because that’s all I have time to read/recommend. Some of them are more than 30 years old, but they are still timely and very entertaining. Most of them are baseball books. Hey, it’s baseball season. Plus, the best sports writers write about baseball. All of them are available at the usual on-line retailers.

Beyond the Sixth Game, by Peter Gammons — If you’ve ever wondered how on Earth the Red Sox couldn’t get back to the World Series after 1975 with a nucleus of Lynn, Rice, Fisk, Evans and Burleson, this book lays it all out. Plus, it’s Gammons at the top of his game, which was about as good as it gets in sportswriting.

The Bronx Zoo: The Astonishing Inside Story of the 1978 World Champion New York Yankees, by Sparky Lyle and Peter Golenbock — Thanks to 2004, it’s now safe for Red Sox fans to read this book and not feel like they’re being kicked in the gut with every turn of the page. I actually hated the `78 Yankees less after reading this. One of the funniest sports books ever written. You’ll never think of Sparky Lyle or birthday cakes the same way again.

Loose Balls, by Terry Pluto — Another side-splitting book. It’s an oral history of the American Basketball Association, and after you put this book down (which you’ll have a hard time doing more than once), you’ll wish the league with the red, white and blue ball was still around. The stories involving Marvin Barnes will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

Patriot Reign, by Michael Holley — A must-read for Patriot fans, or anyone who can’t understand how someone like Bill Belichick could acquire someone like Randy Moss.(The late David Halberstam’s study of Belichick, “The Education of a Coach”, would probably be a good companion to this, but I haven’t read it yet).

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael M. Lewis — Merely the most revolutionary sports book of this century, and one of the best-written sports books ever, even if Kevin Youkilis isn’t Greek.

The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth, by Leigh Montville — The best of what was a pretty weak 2006 for sports books.

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