Score: 88/100 (8.8 out of 10)
“California Sports Astounding” by Dan Cisco is an ambitious sports book that passionately discusses the history of multiple sports and sports figures in the state of California.
The key word there is “passionately.” Mr. Cisco clearly loves this topic and has clearly dedicated a great deal of his life following and learning about these sports. We haven't seen this much love for sports since “Why Baseball is a Sport and Gold is Not” by Aaron S. Bayley, a former grand-prize winner. The book covers about 70 sports including several in which California was integral to in the USA such as American football, lacrosse, water polo, and basketball.
If there's anything that holds this book back it's that, similar to another book we're currently reading called “Barbies & Blokes,” it's quite chaotic. You're getting a lot of information thrown at you all at once, sometimes in a way that seems random. For example, we're constantly getting “birthdays to remember” featuring all-time greats in sports, but its shoehorned or sandwiched in the middle of information about other sports. For example, you might be reading about curling but then see a “Notable Birthdays” section that talks about a pro football player. We wonder how this book might have been better organized or structured. It really does feel that the author had a long, long, long list of sports facts and wanted to share them. So, in a sense, this is almost like a trivia or “Did you know?” book. That's fine, it just doesn't read as well as something like the aforementioned book by Aaron S. Bayley.
There's also something about the title that, like the structure of this book, our brains have trouble computing. Shouldn't the title be “Astounding California Sports Facts” or something like that? It sounds like the words in the title are jumbled, but that might be nitpicking.
With that said, this book is fun to read, and it can be very interesting and engaging. We simply did not know all of these intricacies about sports in California. For instance, did you know that there was a sport called “basket ball” before basketball as we know it today? Did you know that the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders were once called something else, but the public petitioned for the name to be changed? Did you know that the first Super Bowl starring Vince Lombardi himself didn't sell out partly because the tickets were $12? Think about that in the context that some of the recent Super Bowl tickets were $6,000+!
This book also memorializes some legendary sports figures who may not be so familiar to current generations or those outside of California. For instance, we didn't know about James “Wally” O'Connor (Olympic swimmer and polo player from the early 20th century) or 1936 Olympic gold medalist in high jump Cornelius “Corny” Johnson.
If you love sports, check this book out on Amazon!