Still need to get something for that special sports fan in your life? Consider the gift of words.

ThePostGame has been privileged to showcase some of the best sports books to hit the market in the past year, and for your shopping convenience, here's a recap. The slideshow below includes links to excerpts and buying information. There were other great sports books published in 2012, including Dream Team by Jack McCallum and Over Time by Frank Deford, so ours is hardly a comprehensive list. But as a site dedicated to telling great stories, we hope you can share some any way you can, in the spirit of the season or otherwise.

2012 Holiday Gift Guide: Sports Books Slideshow

 

Muck City

The loamy black "muck" around Belle Glade, Florida, once built an empire for Big Sugar and provided much of the nation's vegetables, often on the backs of destitute migrants. Today, forty-five miles from the mansions of Palm Beach, it is one of the poorest places in America, a town once labeled the "AIDS Capital of the World" and so removed from modern society that some families resort to catching rainwater to survive. But Belle Glade's high school team, the Glades Central Raiders, has sent an extraordinary number of players to the NFL -- 30 since 1985, with five of those drafted in the first round. Excerpt and buying information.

 

How The SEC Became Goliath

The SEC developed into the premier conference in college football for several reasons. One factor was that it was the first to stage a conference championship game. Veteran sportswriter Ray Glier examines the dynamics of why this game boosted the conference. Excerpt and buying information.

 

Best Of Rivals

Joe Montana helped the 49ers win Super Bowls after the 1981 and 1984 seasons. But first-round playoff exits in 1985 and 1986 coupled with Montana's back surgery led to the team's acquisition of Steve Young from the Buccaneers in 1987. That created the greatest quarterback controversy in NFL history as it lasted until Montana was traded to the Chiefs before the 1993 season. The two men couldn't have been more different in background, personality, and playing style, and their competition created as much tension as it did greatness, forcing Montana to prove that he was still the game's best quarterback and Young to prove that he was a worthy successor. Excerpt and buying information.

 

The Good Son

In the 1980s, Ray Mancini was a national hero; the real-life Rocky who rose from the gritty streets of Youngstown, Ohio, to become boxing's All-American Boy. Growing up in the shadow of his father -- whose own boxing career was tragically cut short by injuries sustained in WWII -- Ray vowed to win the world championship title and national glory that Lenny, the original Boom Boom, had missed out on. But another tragedy awaited the younger Mancini -- this time in the ring itself. A story of loss and redemption and the bonds between fathers and sons, author Mark Kriegel takes readers from the sweaty fight gyms of 1940s Brooklyn to the glamorous, if corrupt, televised fights of the 1980s, tracing the arcs of the very different careers of the Mancini men while depicting their personal relationships with the ring. Excerpt and buying information.

 

I Gave My Heart To San Francisco

Jesse Sapolu played 15 NFL seasons, winning four Super Bowls with the 49ers and earning two trips to the Pro Bowl. He did this despite a torn aortic heart valve, a dangerous condition that left him short of breath at times. In his new book, Sapolu reveals this secret and recounts his journey to the NFL. Born in Samoa and raised in Hawaii, Sapolu has special appreciation for the success he achieved in pro football when he knows that so many others had the more typical American upbringing. Excerpt and buying information.

 

Better Off Without 'Em

Is the SEC really the best conference in college football "top to bottom," as it's so often described? And if it is, why since the start of the BCS era in 1998 does the conference have overall losing records against the Pac-12 (11-12) and Big East (19-23) and superior but not dominating records against other major conferences? Might the nationwide perception of SEC superiority simply be part of a well-constructed ESPN business plan meant to protect and enhance the network’s $2.25 billion partnership with the SEC? As part of his admittedly left-coast-leaning inspection of myths and misconceptions about the South, author Chuck Thompson dug out the numbers and facts in devoting an entire chapter to Southern football amid critiques of religion, politics, education and racism in this book. Excerpt and buying information.

 

The National Forgotten League

The first fifty years of America's most popular spectator sport have been strangely neglected by historians claiming to tell the "complete story" of pro football. Well, here are the early stories that "complete story" has left out. What about the awful secret carried around by Sid Luckman, the Bears' Hall of Fame quarterback whose father was a mobster and a murderer? Or Steve Hamas, who briefly played in the NFL then turned to boxing and beat Max Schmeling, conqueror of Joe Louis? Or the two one-armed players who suited up for NFL teams in 1945? Or Steelers owner Art Rooney postponing a game in 1938 because of injuries? These are just a few of the little-known facts author Dan Daly unearths. Excerpt and buying information.

 

Running For My Life

When Lopez Lomong was 6, every boy in his village in Sudan was abducted and taken to a prison camp, where they'd be beaten, starved and trained as child soldiers. Sometime later, he escaped, ran three days to a refugee camp in Kenya and spent the next 10 years there as an orphan. His family assumed him dead, as he assumed them to be. In 2000, he watched Michael Johnson win a gold medal on a black and white TV rigged to a car battery in a farmer's hut and decided he wanted to run. He went on to run for the U.S at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing where he was the flag bearer at the Opening Ceremonies, and he ran for the U.S. again in 2012 in London. Excerpt and buying information.

 

Crackback!

At the start of the 2012 season, only 15 of the 120 FBS programs (12.5 percent) had African American head football coaches, down from 17 of 120 one year earlier. Meanwhile, at the conclusion of the 2011 NFL regular season, 10 of the 32 teams (31 percent) were being coached by African Americans. To equal that percentage at FBS programs, 22 more black head coaches would have to be hired immediately. So why isn't there more outrage about this state of affairs, even among the African American community? Why is it that the National Football League has advanced so much further in giving opportunities to African American coaches? Why do most African American college coaches, when they do receive job offers, wind up at the schools with the least resources? And what do both white and black coaches really think about the issue? Dr. Fitz Hill, the former head coach at San Jose State, tackles all this. Excerpt and buying information.

 

Closing The Gap

Willie Davis was one of the NFL's strongest, quickest, and most agile defensive linemen and a team captain who helped Vince Lombardi's Packers win five championships. In addition to being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Davis distinguished himself after his playing career by becoming one of the most respected businessmen in America. He served on the board of directors for Fortune 500 companies, taking part in various foundations, and speaking to audiences of all ages about his experiences. Among the topics in this autobiography is a look at the racial dynamic of being a black player for Green Bay in the 1960s. Excerpt and buying information.

 

Just Win, Baby

Al Davis was a maverick and a pioneer whose Hall of Fame career included stints as head coach, general manager, league commissioner and controlling partner of the Oakland Raiders franchise. One of Davis' legacies was helping businessmen break into the sports ownership game. Excerpt and buying information.

 

That's Why I'm Here

Chris Spielman was a high school and Ohio State football legend and a four-time Pro Bowl NFL linebacker, but he didn't tackle his toughest opponent until his professional playing career was almost over. In 1998, his wife, Stefanie, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and so began a 12-year journey that brought joy and suffering to the Spielmans, as well as hope and inspiration to thousands of others. In this book, Spielman traces his storied career, recalls his courtship of Stefanie Belcher, cherishes the growth of their four children, and invokes the deep spiritual faith that gave their family wisdom and comfort in times of struggle. Excerpt and buying information.

 

The Walk-On

For decades, Northwestern finished at the bottom of the Big Ten. But in 1992 new head coach Gary Barnett brought a winning attitude to Evanston and engineered one of the greatest turnarounds in college sports history, leading Northwestern to two Big Ten championships. Matt Stewart's experience as a safety mirrored the team. As a freshman, he walked-on to the team and ended up fifth string on the depth chart. But with hard work, determination and self-belief, Matt earned a full-ride scholarship and his efforts were rewarded in a remarkable way as the Wildcats made it to the Rose Bowl. Excerpt and buying information.

 

Road To Valor

Gino Bartali was a chain-smoking cycling superstar at a time when cycling was the most popular summer sport in Europe. In an era when many Americans were swinging for the fences, trying to be the next Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams, Europeans were chasing fame on their bicycles. Bartali lived out this collective fantasy when he won the Tour de France in 1938. Though a decade older than most of his competitors, he returned to the Tour in 1948 where racers battled snow, sleet and rain. Excerpt and buying information.

 

Jewball

This historical novel by Neal Pollack is set in 1937 in Philadelphia. The gears of world war have begun to grind, but Inky Lautman, star point guard for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, America's greatest basketball team, is dealing with his own problems. His coach has unwittingly incurred a massive gambling debt to the Bund, a group of American Nazis. His main basketball rival is self-righteously leading public protests against homegrown American fascism. And his girlfriend wants him to join a Jewish student organization that's all talk and no action. It's more than Inky can deliver. He just wants to play ball and occasionally beat people up for money. Excerpt and buying information.

 

Ozzie's School Of Management

Ozzie Guillen is a magnet for controversy. He has been suspended for ill-conceived statements about Fidel Castro and his longevity, and his rants are legendary. Rick Morrissey, an award-winning sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, reveals the strategy and psychology that underpin Ozzie's antics. Excerpt and buying information.

 

Bushville Wins!

Meet the screwballs in charge – pitchers Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette of the Milwaukee Braves, a righty and a lefty joined at the hip, both who felt Casey Stengel tried to railroad their careers as young pitchers. Meet the sluggers -- Henry Aaron and Eddie Mathews, two teammates whose opposites were extreme, but whose differences brought them closer together instead of ripping them apart. And meet the beer swiggers -- Milwaukee, the town, the team and the time -- the first team to relocate in the 20th century, the first team to come to a new market, move into a new stadium and draw 2 million a year -- led by a visionary owner named Lou Perini, a construction man whose blueprints for baseball's future were liberally imitated by young Bud Selig, who grew up in Milwaukee during the High Life years of the Braves. Excerpt and buying information.

 

Eat & Run

For nearly two decades, Scott Jurek has been a dominant force -- and darling -- in the grueling and growing sport of ultrarunning. And yet, perhaps even more impressive than his extensive list of race victories and course records is the fact that he achieves these astonishing accomplishments of endurance on an entirely plant-based diet. Jurek opens up about his life and career -- and a run through Death Valley. Excerpt and buying information.

 

Color Him Orange

Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim is known for his fierce competitive drive and loyalty to Syracuse, and his efforts paid off with an NCAA championship in 2003 after years of having teams fall just short of the title. This book examines the people who shaped him as an individual and a coach and the great players he has led, including Pearl Washington, whose decision to go to Syracuse was a pivotal moment in the program's leap to the nation's elite. Excerpt and buying information.

 

The Lady Is A Champ

The first woman professional boxing judge in the world, Carol Polis has had a life personal triumph against long odds. In 1971, Polis married a part-time professional boxing referee. Within two years, she went from being a squeamish spectator to a professional boxing judge -- the first woman ever to do so. From cutting her teeth on three-round undercard fights at the gritty Blue Horizon in Philadelphia to finding herself at the center of a riot at Madison Square Garden, Polis has worked a staggering 27 title fights in nine countries. Excerpt and buying information.

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