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The 12 sports books of Christmas

By Bob Mackin

What happens more often than four-goal games by a Canucks captain, ferry strikes or the swearing-in of a new prime minister?

If you guessed the Twelve Sports Books of Christmas, congratulate yourself. Without further ado, here's my sixth annual recommendation of books for the sports fan on your shopping list.

- When Montreal dentist George Beers set lacrosse's rules in 1867, two teams of 12-men-a-playing battled outdoors on a 150-yard field. Beers' rules and everything you need to know to watch and play Canada's official summer sport are in Lacrosse For Dummies by Jim Hinkson, John Jiloty and Robert Carpenter (Wiley).

- The Super Bowl is so big that the 11 men on either side of the ball are secondary to the multimillion-dollar ads. Bernice Kanner explains why and how this came to be in The Super Bowl of Advertising: How the Commercials Won the Game (Bloomberg).

- Andrew Podnieks' Players: The Ultimate A-Z Guide of Everyone Who Has Ever Played in the NHL (Doubleday Canada) starts with Antti Aalto and ends with Andrei Zyuzin. Among the 50 players on the 10 pages of Smiths are Lower Mainlanders Clint "Snuffy" Smith and Gary "Suitcase" Smith.

- One of Roger Angell's favourite subjects is Ted Williams, the greatest ballplayer to wear number nine. Angell is back with a 40-year anthology called Game Time: A Baseball Companion (Harcourt).

- In eight years 'tween the pipes, Ken Dryden won six Stanley Cups for the Montreal Canadiens. Then he penned 1983's best-selling The Game (Wiley). It's back in print with a new chapter by the goaltending legend.

- If you spend all day dreaming about "Becks," now you can read about Manchester United's former number seven in David Beckham's Both Feet On The Ground: An Autobiography (HarperCollins). Now starring as Real Madrid's number 23, most Americans know him as a Spice Girl's hubby.

- How strong was Doug Hepburn? There's a photo with six Vancouver Canucks on the 1953 world weightlifting champion's back in Strongman: The Doug Hepburn Story by Tom Thurston (Ronsdale).

- Roger Neilson's revolutionary video analysis was instrumental when the Edmonton Oilers won the first of five Stanley Cup rings in 1984. The late "Captain Video" is one of 324 Hockey Hall of Famers in the definitive and deluxe Honoured Members (Fenn).

- Phil Esposito's post-game four rant in Vancouver was the turning point in 1972's Summit Series against the Soviets. Read what Espo had to say to the boo birds in Remembering Phil Esposito, Craig MacInnis, editor (Raincoast).

- Three troubled, but talented, puck stars grace the cover of Jeff Rud's Hockey's Young Superstars: The 25 Hottest Players On Ice (Raincoast). Boston's Joe Thornton was lucky that charges of assaulting a cop were dropped, while Atlanta's Dany Heatley is facing vehicular homicide charges. As for Calgary's Jarome Iginla, his only problem is playing for a team destined for another early exit from the playoffs.

- In Vancouver, he played more like a Moose than a Messiah. Mark Messier's Canucks career is remembered in The Two Captain Canucks, a chapter in Messier (Doubleday Canada), Jeff Z. Klein's enlightening, unauthorized biography of the Oilers and Rangers legend. Messier made no friends here when he wore the late Wayne Maki's number 11 and supplanted Trevor Linden as captain.

- Charmaine Hooper jumped higher than a partridge in a pear tree when she scored the only goal Canada needed to beat China in the Women's World Cup quarterfinal. The captain of the fourth-best team in the world penned the foreword in Women's Soccer: The Passionate Game by Barbara Stewart with Helen Stoumbos (Greystone). Published before the tournament, it's an attractive and informative survey of women in soccer.

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