A Baseball Lover's Reading List

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 12:04pm -- lwhite

The calendar has been turned to April and spring weather has finally arrived. The grass has been cut, the air carries on it the smell of hotdogs and popcorn and fans eagerly await the moment their teams take the field. Whether you are a fan of the Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, or Red Sox, Opening day is always one of the biggest games of the year. Come celebrate the start of the 2017 Major League Baseball Season by checking out some of the books below. 

 

 

Baseball: A Literary Anthology ed. By Nicholas Dawidoff

Poems in Baseball: A Literary Anthology include indispensable works whose phrases have entered the language-Ernest Thayer's "Casey at the Bat" and Franklin P. Adams's "Baseball's Sad Lexicon"-as well as more recent   offerings from May Swenson, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Martin Espada. Testimonies from classic oral histories offer insights into the players who helped enshrine the sport in the American imagination. Spot reporting by Heywood Broun and Damon Runyon stands side by side with journalistic profiles that match baseball legends with some of our finest writers: John Updike on Ted Williams, Gay Talese on Joe DiMaggio, Red Smith on Lefty Grove. 

 

 

 

Rhode Island Baseball: the early years by Rick Harris

Woonsocket native Gabby Hartnett set the world record by catching a baseball thrown from a blimp eight hundred feet above him. Then he did it again. Rhode Island Baseball possesses the same knack for astonishing you time after time with stories of baseball legends you thought you knew (like Nap Lajoie) and teams you might never have heard of (like the OSRC: Orcutt's Sure Rheumatism Cure). As you slide back into an era when men and women played professional ball barehanded and a rabbit hole could change a game, you will discover how large a role America's smallest state played in the nation's favorite pastime.

 

 

 

The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: the Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime by Jason Turbow and Michael Duca

Everyone knows that baseball is a game of complicated rules, but it turns out to be even more complex than we realize. Jason Turbow and Michael Duca take us behind the scenes of the great American pastime. Players talk about the game as they never have before, breaking the code of secrecy that surrounds so much of baseball, both on the field and in the clubhouse. We learn why pitchers sometimes do retaliate when one of their teammates is hit by a pitch and other times let it go. We hear about the subtle forms of payback that occur when a player violates the rules out of ignorance instead of disrespect. We find out why cheating is acceptable (but getting caught at cheating is not), and how off-field tensions can get worked out on the diamond. These tacit rules are illuminated with often incredible stories about everyone from national heroes true eccentrics.

 

 

 

For the Love of Baseball: a Celebration of the Game that Connects Us All by Lee Gutkind and Andrew Blauner

Stefan Fatsis sends his “stunningly perfect, consummately perfect, why-would-anyone-use-anything-else? perfect” glove to be restored by the glove designer at Rawlings. Frank Deford makes the case that the baseball cap may be the most universal article of clothing ever designed. Roger Angell considers why it is that pitchers are “so much livelier and more garrulous than hitters.” George Plimpton reflects on the slow demotion of aging or slumping players from pitcher to first base, to the outfield.  United by the authors’ fervent love of the game, each chapter in this book reminds us of the unique role baseball plays in our national history and collective imagination. 

 

 

 

Baseball Before We Knew it: a Search for the Roots of the Game by David Block

Block’s book takes readers on an exhilarating journey through the centuries in search of clues to the evolution of our modern National Pastime. Among his startling discoveries is a set of long-forgotten baseball rules from the 1700s. Block evaluates the originality and historical significance of the Knickerbocker rules of 1845, revisits European studies on the ancestry of baseball which indicate that the game dates back hundreds, if not thousands of years, and assembles a detailed history of games and pastimes from the Middle Ages onward that contributed to baseball’s development. In its thoroughness and reach, and its extensive descriptive bibliography of early baseball sources, this book is a unique and invaluable resource—a comprehensive, reliable, and readable account of baseball before it was America’s game.

 

 

 

The Head Game: Baseball Seen from the Pitcher's Mound by Roger Kahn

In his critically acclaimed and bestselling new book, Roger Kahn presents the story of this supreme war of wits and the people who changed the course of baseball by playing, what he calls, chess at 90 miles an hour. In The Head Game, Kahn investigates not only grips, tactics, and physics, but also the intelligence, maturity, and competitive fire that has inspired some of the greatest hurlers in history.

 

 

 

 

Bottom of the 33rd: Hope and Redemption in Baseball's Longest Game by Dan Barry

From Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Dan Barry comes the beautifully recounted story of the longest game in baseball history—a tale celebrating not only the robust intensity of baseball, but the aspirational ideal epitomized by the hard-fighting players of the minor leagues. In the tradition of Moneyball, The Last Hero, and Wicked Good Year, Barry’s Bottom of the 33rd is a reaffirming story of the American Dream finding its greatest expression in timeless contests of the Great American Pastime.

 

 

 

Keepers of the Game: When the Baseball Beat Was the Best Job on the Paper by Dennis D'Agostino

Keepers of the Game celebrates the last generation of baseball writers whose careers were rooted in Teletype machines, train travel, and ten-team leagues, and who wielded an influence and power within the game that are unimaginable today. Dennis D’Agostino brings together, for the first time, the personal histories of a group of journalists whose influence, power, and dedication to the game of baseball is part of a golden age of sports journalism that is now a thing of the past.

 

 

 

The Victory Season: the End of World War II and the Birth of Baseball's Golden Age by Robert Weintraub

In the spring of 1946, Americans were ready to heal. The war was finally over, and as America's fathers and brothers were coming home so too were baseball's greats. Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Joe DiMaggio returned with bats blazing, making the season a true classic that ended in a thrilling seven-game World Series. America also witnessed the beginning of a new era in baseball- it was a year of attendance records, the first year Yankee Stadium held night games, the last year the Green Monster wasn't green, and Jackie Robinson's first year playing in the Brooklyn Dodgers' system. The Victory Season thrillingly recounts these years of baseball and war, including the little-known "world series" that servicemen played in a captured Hitler Youth stadium in the fall of 1945. Robert Weintraub's extensive research and vibrant storytelling enliven the legendary season that embodies what we now think of as the game's golden era.

 

 

Before the Curse: the Glory Days of New England Baseball, 1858-1918  by Troy Soos

In this revised and updated version of his highly regarded book, author Troy Soos covers the history of baseball in New England from 1791 through 1918, the year in which the Red Sox won their final World Series of the 20th century. Beginning with the recently discovered Pittsfield, Massachusetts, document, the history of early New England baseball and its folk predecessors is briefly discussed, followed by the advent of pay for play, when the Boston Red Stockings dominated baseball's first major league. Turning next to the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s, decades that saw pro baseball establish itself in especially the larger cities of the Northeast, Soos demonstrates that the amateur game became a fixture of the towns, schools, and even the factories. Success at the game's highest level followed, as Boston won five NL championships in the 1890s before taking the first modern World Series in 1903.When five more world championships came during the 1910s, New Englanders could justifiably argue that the country's oldest region sat atop the baseball world. By the close of 1918, New England was baseball mad, and the 86 years of collapses, near-misses, and outright struggles that lay ahead would do nothing to diminish the game's high place in the regional culture.

 

 

The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It by Lawrence S. Ritter

Baseball was different in earlier days—tougher, rawer, more intimate—when giants like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb ran the bases. In the monumental classic The Glory of Their Times, the golden era of our national pastime comes alive through the vibrant words of those who played and lived the game.

 

 

 

 

The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America's Game by Edward Achorn

Chris von der Ahe knew next to nothing about base¬ball when he risked his life's savings to found the franchise that would become the St. Louis Cardinals. Yet the German-born beer garden proprietor would become one of the most important—and funniest—figures in the game's history. Von der Ahe picked up the team for one reason—to sell more beer. Then he helped gather a group of ragtag professional clubs together to create a maverick new league that would fight the haughty National League, reinventing big-league baseball to attract Americans of all classes. Sneered at as “The Beer and Whiskey Circuit” because it was backed by brewers, distillers, and saloon owners, their American Association brought Americans back to enjoying baseball by offering Sunday games, beer at the ballpark, and a dirt-cheap ticket price of 25 cents. In The Summer of Beer and Whiskey, Achorn re-creates this wondrous and hilarious world of cunning, competition, and boozing, set amidst a rapidly transforming America. It is a classic American story of people with big dreams, no shortage of chutzpah, and love for a brilliant game that they refused to let die.


 

The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood by Jane Leavy

Award-winning sports writer Jane Leavy follows her New York Times runaway bestseller Sandy Koufax with the definitive biography of baseball icon Mickey Mantle. The legendary Hall-of-Fame outfielder was a national hero during his record-setting career with the New York Yankees, but public revelations of alcoholism, infidelity, and family strife badly tarnished the ballplayer's reputation in his later years. In The Last Boy, Leavy plumbs the depths of the complex athlete, using copious first-hand research as well as her own memories, to show why The Mick remains the most beloved and misunderstood Yankee slugger of all time.

 

 

 

Dimaggio: Setting the Record Straight by Morris Engelberg, Marv Schneider with a forward by Henry A. Kissinger

Widely considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Joe DiMaggio transcended sports and was a true American icon. Beyond his public life in a New York Yankee uniform and his glamorous if brief marriage to Marilyn Monroe, DiMaggio was an intensely private individual who rarely, if ever, revealed himself to biographers attempting to tell his life story. Until now, Morris Engelberg, DiMaggio's closest friend and confidante over the last 16 years of his life, had rare access and insight to the man behind the legend. Teamed up with longtime AP journalist Marv Schneider, Engelberg corrects inaccuracies in recent biographies of DiMaggio and reveals the true, inside story of the great "Joltin' Joe."

 

 

 

The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron by Howard Bryant

Based on meticulous research and extensive interviews The Last Hero reveals how Aaron navigated the upheavals of his time—fighting against racism while at the same time benefiting from racial progress—and how he achieved his goal of continuing Jackie Robinson’s mission to obtain full equality for African Americans, both in baseball and society, while he lived uncomfortably in the public eye. Eloquently written, detailed and penetrating, this is a revelatory portrait of a complicated, private man who through sports became an enduring American icon.

 

 

 

Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu: John Updike on Ted Williams by John Updike

On September 28, 1960-a day that will live forever in the hearts of fans-Red Sox slugger Ted Williams stepped up to the plate for his last at-bat in Fenway Park. Seizing the occasion, he belted a solo home run- a storybook ending to a storied career. In the stands that afternoon was 28-year-old John Updike, inspired by the moment to make his lone venture into the field of sports reporting. More than just a matchless account of that fabled final game, "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" is a brilliant evocation of Williams' competitive spirit, an intensity of dedication that still "crowds the throat with joy."

 

 

 

For Love of the Game by Michael Shaara

Billy Chapel is a baseball legend, a man who has devoted his life to the game he loves and plays so well. But because of his unsurpassed skill and innocent faith, he has been betrayed. Now it's the final game of the season, and Billy's got one last chance to prove who he is and what he can do, a chance to prove what really matters in this life. A taut, compelling story of one man's coming of age, For Love of the Game is Michael Shaara's final novel, the classic finish to a brilliantly distinguished literary career.

 

 

 

Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella

“If you build it, he will come”; These mysterious words, spoken by an Iowa baseball announcer, inspire Ray Kinsella to carve a baseball diamond in his cornfield in honor of his hero, the baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson. What follows is both a rich, nostalgic look at one of our most cherished national pastimes and a remarkable story about fathers and sons, love and family, and the inimitable joy of finding your way home.