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’Tis the season for lots of sports books

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s A Great Game and Bobby Orr’s autobiography Bobby Orr: My Game are the two sports books receiving the most hype this holiday season. Rather that include them, our annual book column will focus on books with a Manitoba connection.

Former Blue Bombers coach Bud Grant with help from Minnesota author Jim Bruton has written his autobiography titled I Did it My Way: A Remarkable Journey to the Hall of Fame (Triumph Books). In the chapters "Going Pro" and "Grey Cup Champions," Grant fondly remembers the 14 years he spent in Winnipeg as a player and coach. His story of being interviewed for the coaching job at the home of board chair Jim Russell by the directors, who’d had a few drinks, shows how different it was from the current process. That group got it right.

Chris McCubbins: Running the Distance (J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing) is a biography of the Oklahoma-born runner, who won the 3,000-metre steeplechase at the 1967 Pan-Am Games in Winnipeg, and made our city his home in 1970. Author Joe Mackintosh tells the story of the 1999 Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame inductee through the use of newspaper clippings, interviews with family, friends and other runners, and McCubbins’ running diary. That diary best explains his training regime and his dedication to long distance running. He also brought that dedication to coaching other runners and to teaching at several Winnipeg schools. Excerpts from a second diary deal with the battle McCubbins lost to cancer in August 2009.

Winnipeg freelance writer Richard Kamchen and Toronto’s Greg Oliver are co-authors of Don’t Call Me Goon (ECW Press), which tells the stories of hockey players they call enforcers, gunslingers and bad boys. The Manitoba connection starts with Bad Joe Hall, who played in Brandon and Winnipeg in the early 1900s before moving east, and includes Dave Semenko, Stu Grimson and Arron Asham. The Winnipeg Jets are well-represented by Jimmy Mann, Tie Domi, Dave Manson, former coach Dan Maloney and GM John Ferguson. Having the enforcers talk about each other and also hearing from their opponents add up to an interesting read.

Full Count (Random House Canada) by Jeff Blair would be a good gift choice for baseball fans. The former Winnipeg Free Press sports reporter covers four decades of Toronto Blue Jays baseball, but readers need to know that the book was published early in the year before the team’s disastrous 2013 season. A highlight is Blair’s look inside the team’s operations and why decisions were made while J. P. Ricciardi was the GM and how they changed under Alex Anthopoulos.

MacIntyre Purcell Publishing in Nova Scotia has two hockey books out this fall. Road to the NHL, by Philip Croucher, tells the stories of 25 Maritimers who made the show including former Jets Paul MacLean, now the Ottawa Senators coach, Mike Eagles and Randy Jones as well as Billy MacMillan, who played for Canada’s national team when it was based in Winnipeg in the 1960s.

If the two-hour long line at Chapters Polo Festival on Dec. 7 for Jay Onrait to sign his autobiography is any indication, Anchorboy (Collins Canada) by the Fox Sports 1 anchor is the most popular sports book of the season. Several young men said how much they enjoyed Onrait’s humour when he was with TSN Sports and how friendly he was while signing. Onrait worked for A-Channel in Winnipeg before he went East

Memories of Sport appears every second week in the Canstar Community News weeklies. Kent Morgan can be contacted at 204-489-6641 or email:

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