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By The Staff

Arnie Leshin has led a colorful life in the world of sports journalism, from his boyhood in Brooklyn to his more recent exploits in New Mexico. As a part-time sportswriter for the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Albuquerque Journal and Tribune even the Los Alamos Monitor. He has rubbed elbows with most of the great names in sports over the last 40 years, and has published a book titled “The Best Damn Sports Stories” to chronicle his adventures.“Four decades on the sports beat” is Leshin’s motto, as he recounts his brushes with great sports legends from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Martina Navratilova. Leshin was in the Wigwam Arena in Hershey, Pa., for Wilt Chamberlain’s historic 100-point basketball game, and on the marathon route when Joan Benoit won the first women’s marathon at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, along with dozens of other memorable encounters throughout the years as he covered every conceivable sport.A New York (baseball) Giants fan who only shifted his allegiance back to the East Coast several years after the Giants moved to San Francisco, Leshin obviously has a soft spot in his heart for the New York Mets, despite his devotion to Giants’ legend Willie Mays. Other heroes include Brian Piccolo, Yogi Berra and Muhammad Ali.Although the book could have used a judicious editor, readers will enjoy the many personal touches. Leshin gives advice on grammar, paraphrases the song, “I did it my way” and gossips shamelessly throughout the book. From jai alai to hockey, harness racing to pocket billiards, Leshin has opinions and is not afraid to state them for the record. He has covered all kinds of sports throughout North America, and his enthusiastic, if sometimes star-struck, anecdotes fill the slim volume.Leshin’s list of his “All Time Greats” in each of the sports is a good conversation starter. He challenges readers to dispute his selections of “all-time best” basketball team (with Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Larry Bird) and the all-time best athletes (with Jim Thorpe, Bo Jackson, Jim Brown and Jackie Robinson leading the way).The book is published by the Philadelphia-based self-publishing house Xlibris, and is available on the company’s website, and from Leshin directly by e-mail at rknee37@aol.com.Sports fans should have a ball with this book.