Baseball Books

by Rachel Baker on March 3, 2011

Let me start this by saying, Hot Dogs are Gross when you really think about it.  But, every year, starting in January, when I walk past the cold food shelves in the grocery store I think, “Its almost time for hot dogs!” and frankly, I start to get a little excited by the prospect that Baseball Season is only a couple of months away.  By the beginning of February, I start to seriously contemplate buying a pack…but don’t.  By the end of February, when I’m walking through the back fields of Digital Domain Park (the spring training complex for the NY Mets), I congratulate myself for my willpower and look forward to the first spring training game where I can sit in the stands eating a hot dog while watching a game.

Spring Training games have started; and while I’m extremely excited by the idea of what the Mets may be able to accomplish this year, I am also keenly aware of the fact that I read just one baseball book last year.  And prior to Spring Training starting, I normally have a list of baseball books to help get you in the mood for baseball.  This year, though has been different.  The Mets have gone through a great many changes this off-season and while I did a lot of reading on the changes, I just didn’t get around to reading any actual baseball books.

The other day, I received my copy of Bookmarks Magazine and was excited by the three page spread on baseball books. I’ve heard the crack of the ball on the bat; I’ve smelled the ever so wonderful smell of hot dogs and warm pretzels; I’ve gotten the first sunburn (and skin peel) of the season; and now I’ve spent some time going through some mini-reviews of baseball books.  I’m ready to sit in the stands and root for my favorite players.

To help me figure out what books I might read this season, I’ve compiled a list of books from a couple of different sources.  If you are interested in boning up on your baseball reading, I suggest picking a few from this list.

Showcased are from the Bookmarks Magazine spread are:

Crazy ’08: How the Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History by Cait Murphy
Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series by Eliot Asinof
The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It by Lawrence S. Ritter

Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero by David Maraniss
Jackie Robinson: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad
Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend by Larry Tye
Ty Cobb by Charles Alexander

Brittle Innings by Michael Bishop
Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris
The Great American Novel by Philip Roth

Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Anatomy of Baseball Ed. Lee Gutking and Andrew Blauner
The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop by Robert Coover
The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract by Bill James
Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend: Women Writers on Baseball Edited by Elinor Nauen
The Philosophy of Baseball by Mike Stadler
Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball by George F. Will
The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams

One I think deserves to be on the list as a must read is The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn

Others in my library I’ve read include:
Jinxed: Baseball Superstitions From Around the Major Leagues edited by Ken Leiker – this is a fascinating little book, easy to read.  There’s not a lot to glean from this book other than some of the odd superstitious things ball players to before a game.
Harvard Boys: A Father and Son’s Adventures Playing Minor League Baseball by John Wolff and Rick Wolff – this book is for people who are interested in what life is like in the Minor leagues.  I didn’t enjoy the format of the book, but it was interesting none the less.
As They See ‘Em: A Fan’s Travels in the Land of Umpires by Bruce Weber – I haven’t read this one yet, though I’ve leafed through it.  Seems like an interesting look at umpires.
The Game From Where I Stand: A Ballplayer’s Inside View by Doug Glanville – I really liked this book.  Here’s my review.

Books Recommended by fans (compiled from a thread on that aren’t already mentioned:

If At First by Keith Hernandez
The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball and the Art of Pitching by Ron Darling
The Old Ballgame by Frank De Ford
The Catcher Was A Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg by Nicholas Dawidoff
Any books by Thomas Boswell are great
The Machine: A Hot Team, a Legendary Season, and a Heart-stopping World Series: The Story of the 1975 Cincinnati Reds by Joe Posnanski
The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World by Joshua Prager
The Last Good Season: Brooklyn, the Dodgers and Their Final Pennant Race Together by Michael Shapiro
License to Deal: A Season on the Run with a Maverick Baseball Agent by Jerry Crasnick
The Ballparks by Bill Shannon (this one is out of print, but one may still be able to find it through used bookstores or something)
Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?: The Improbable Saga of the New York Met’s First Year by Jimmy Breslin
Anything written by Roger Angell

I’d be interested in hearing what you think of the books, so feel free to comment.  Also, please if you have recommendations, please let me know by using the comment section below.  Many Thanks in advance.

Good Luck to all the fans out there!  May your team do well; may there be few injuries, and here’s best wishes for a fabulous season for all!

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