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Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Recommended Sports Travel Reading

By Jim Caple
ESPN.com

The Road Warrior's 10 favorite sports travel books:

1. "The Miracle of Castel di Sangro" by Joe McGinniss
McGinniss spends a season with an Italian team from one of Italy's poorest regions as it continues an improbable rise from the bottom classification to Serie B (the second-best league in Italy). Impossible to put down, it's a little bit "Bad News Bears," a little "Rocky" and a fair amount "Godfather."

2. "Playing the Moldovans at Tennis" by Tony Hawks
Hawks bets a friend that he can play -- and beat -- everyone on the Moldovan soccer team in tennis. This is a funny, gripping, informative and occasionally touching account of his journey to Moldova and attempt to win the bet.

3. "Road Swing" by Steve Rushin
Rushin is the country's best sportswriter and he's at his best in this account of his journey through both the fringes and mainstream of American sports.

4. "How Soccer Explains the World" by Franklin Foer
A better title would be How Soccer Reflects the World, but this is a thoughtful, offbeat and highly entertaining examination of soccer around the globe and how it reflects each culture.

5. "The Reindeer Was My Caddy" by Steve Rushin
More gems from Rushin, featuring the best of his sports travels in Sports Illustrated.

6. "Big Game, Small World" by Alexander Wolff
Wolff travels the world and brings back wonderful stories of basketball from all over. The chapter on Mike McCollow's wild coaching gig in Poland is worth double the price.

7. "You Gotta Have Wa" by Robert Whiting
The definitive book on baseball in Japan. Terrifically entertaining and well-written, as is his recent followup, "The Samurai Way of Baseball."

8. "French Revolutions" by Tim Moore
A fun and informative account of a somewhat out-of-shape travel writer cycling the entire route of the Tour de France, including the mountain stages.

9. "The Courting of Marcus Dupree" by Willie Morris
The gifted writer and editor returns to his Southern roots to chronicle life in Philadelphia, Mississippi -- site of the infamous 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers -- during football star Marcus Dupree's senior year of high school. It is a fascinating, beautiful journey into Southern history, culture and football.

10. "Fever Pitch" by Nick Hornby
Not a travel book strictly speaking, but it is a great take on fan obsession and soccer in England. Note: This book has nothing to do with the Drew Barrymore-Jimmy Fallon movie other than the title. An earlier movie of the same name, starring Colin Firth and available on DVD, is based on the book and it is worth a rental.

Two recent books I hope to add when I have time to read them (the reviews are very good): "Have Glove Will Travel" by Bill Lee, about the pitcher's baseball journeys across the globe, and "Spalding's World Tour" by Mark Lamster, about A.G. Spalding's promotional baseball tour of the world in 1888.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com who has covered sports on five continents and written about them all across America. His work can also be found on Page 2, and his book, "The Devil Wears Pinstripes," can be ordered through jimcaple.com.