Not since Ball Four has any autobiographical sports book been such a thoroughgoing pleasure to read. Shep Messing, the charismatic goalie who wiggled his unorthodox way into a spot as the first transfer student at Harvard, a centerfold on the pages of Viva magazine, a berth on the team at the disastrous Munich Olympics, and into the annals of American soccer as goalkeeper on the team that bought PelÃ‰, is funny, quite mad, and absolutely charming. He takes us on his outspoken fling from the impoverished bush leagues--where the team owner fed his players hot dogs from his concession as pre-game meals--to the comparative luxury of the Cosmos, the Warner-Communications owned team that played big soccer for big money for the first time ever in this country. In the end, a contretemps with coach Eddie Firmiani ends Messing's Cosmos days, and he leaves New York for Oakland with a $100,000 contract in his pocket and, presumably, no less a penchant for clinging to notoriety and the underside of bar stools. Read this. You'll learn about behind-the-scenes soccer, and you'll laugh.