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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The 100 Best Baseball Books Ever Written

1 Prophet of the Sandlots, by Mike Winegardner

Mark Winegardner’s book about Tony Lucadello, the successful baseball scout who scouted Mike Schmidt, is written in a clean, almost invisible prose style. Winegardner’s understated approach pays off when the story ends with an unexpected twist. Scouts, like trainers in boxing, often make rich characters, and Winegardner’s devotion to Lucadello pays off in one of the truest baseball stories you’ll ever read. 

2 A Day In The Bleachers, by Arnold Hano

One of the first baseball books for adults, A Day in the Bleachers is really a long magazine article made into a tidy book. It’s about how Hano took the subway uptown to the Polo Grounds one day and bought a bleacher ticket for a World Series game. It just so happened to be one of the most famous games in World Series history because of an amazing play Willie Mays made in centerfield. Hano had a perfect view of the catch, and the even more remarkable throw. He’d been going to the Polo Grounds alone since he was four-years-old, and he was most at home in the bleachers. This is a gem.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 30, 2021 at 11:59 AM | 73 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Mefisto Posted: November 30, 2021 at 02:00 PM (#6055366)
The article says the books are in no particular order, so numbering them 1 and 2 could be misleading.
   2. The Duke Posted: November 30, 2021 at 02:05 PM (#6055368)
What a list. I’ve read a number of baseball books but I’d say I have not most of these. My personal childhood favorite is “ The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading & Bubblegum Book”.
   3. Baldrick Posted: November 30, 2021 at 02:21 PM (#6055374)
Making a big list and then insisting it's in no particular order drives me nuts.

Have the courage of your convictions! Give people recommendations that are at least vaguely useful!
   4. Bourbon Samurai stays in the fight Posted: November 30, 2021 at 02:43 PM (#6055382)
Anybody have thoughts about what's missing? Don't see Burt Solomon's fantastic book on the 1890's Orioles.
   5. Lassus Posted: November 30, 2021 at 03:34 PM (#6055399)
Alex Belth was never a Primate, I don't think, but is a certain level of internet blogging indie royalty from BITD. He's an archivist and serious literary nerd and real baseball fan. Bronx Banter was his deal. I can guarantee you that anything that was left out was agonized over.

Sadly, the book about Roger Kahn owning the Utica Blue Sox was not included.
   6. Perry Posted: November 30, 2021 at 03:40 PM (#6055402)
All in all it's a terrific list, I think, including some more obscure selections you don't usually see in these kinds of lists. Off the top of my head I might quibble with a few omissions -- it has only 2 of Angell's collections, and only 1 of Tom Boswell's. My own personal top 100 would also include Creamer's "Baseball in '41," Halberstam's "October 1964," Lewine and Okrent's "The Ultimate Baseball Book," Lowenfish's recent biography of Branch Rickey, and Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Wait Till Next Year."
   7. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: November 30, 2021 at 04:24 PM (#6055407)
Very nice to see a couple of favorites of mine that such lists almost always omit -- Mike Sowell's The Pitch That Killed & John Sayles' Pride of the Bimbos.

Others I'm extremely fond of -- Steve Fireovid's minor league memoir The 26th Man & Donald Hays' novel, The Dixie Association.

I'd be tempted to include one of Duane Decker's Blue Sox juveniles as well. Large swaths of baseball fans of a certain age cut their teeth on novels written for kids.
   8. TJ Posted: November 30, 2021 at 04:45 PM (#6055412)
What a list. I’ve read a number of baseball books but I’d say I have not most of these. My personal childhood favorite is “ The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading & Bubblegum Book”.


Loved that one as a kid, too. Still have my copy, dog-eared and tattered, but still treasured. Sorta like my childhood baseball cards, I guess...
   9. McCoy Posted: November 30, 2021 at 04:55 PM (#6055413)
I would quibble with having the Neyer/James book included and leaving out something from Allen Barra and or leaving out Slouching Toward Fargo, The Art of Fielding, and Calico Joe.
   10. Zach Posted: November 30, 2021 at 04:56 PM (#6055414)
Hmm, promising list. Nice mix of books I already knew about and books I hadn't heard of (but look interesting).
   11. we all water; we all 57i66135 Posted: November 30, 2021 at 04:57 PM (#6055415)
pleasantly shocked by the inclusion of "weaver on strategy".

and if 100 of the best baseball books ever written aren't enough to chew on, i'd also like to throw out an honorable mention for walter alston's "the complete baseball handbook", which is one of my favorite books for learning, teaching and appreciating the nuts and bolts mechanics of playing the game.
   12. Mike Webber Posted: November 30, 2021 at 05:01 PM (#6055416)
Great List. I doubt I've read half of the ones on the list published since 2010ish, but I have read almost all of the ones that are older. Howard Bryant is great, the Aaron book is one of the best baseball biographies, but I just don't have any interest in the topic of Juicing the Game. Or the Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty.

Never read Man on Spikes by Asimov, or Pride of the Bimbos but will add them to my list.

I liked Kinsella's Iowa Baseball Confederacy better than Field of Dreams.
Darryl Brock - If I Never Get Back, Havana Heat



Couple of Primates I'd recommend,

Mark Armour and Dan Levitt Paths to Glory. Pursuit of Pennants. Both very good.

Chris Jaffe - Evaluating Baseball's Managers: A History and Analysis of Performance in the Major Leagues, 1876-2008


   13. TJ Posted: November 30, 2021 at 05:06 PM (#6055418)
Do wish they could have found a spot for Sam Walker's "Fantasyland", which should be required reading for anyone (and their family, too) who is even thinking about joining their first fantasy baseball league...
   14. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: November 30, 2021 at 05:13 PM (#6055419)
Concur on If I Never Get Back & Fantasyland. Would add one of Troy Soos' Mickey Rawlings mysteries, too.
   15. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 30, 2021 at 05:23 PM (#6055420)
In random order, my top 21, though really it's more like 43. No point in ranking them, since the order would be constantly changing:

The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract

Jules Tygiel's Baseball's Great Experiment

Mark Stang's fabulous photo collections of the Indians, A's, Senators, Red Sox, Cardinals, Phillies, Cubs and Reds. I only wish he'd finish the series.

Glenn Stout, The "Century" series (Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs)

The collected Roger Angell essays (consisting of about 5 or 6 titles)

Johnny Evers, Touching Second

Koppett's Concise History of Major League Baseball

Charles Einstein, The Fireside Books of Baseball

Willard Mullin's Golden Age of Baseball

Fred Lieb, Baseball As I Have Known It

Damon Rice, Seasons Past (technically a novel, but really a history of New York Baseball from the 1840's through 1957, seen through the eyes of a multi-generational family)

Arnold Hano's A Day in the Bleachers

Paul Dickson's bios of Bill Veeck and Leo Durocher

Jane Leavy's bios of Koufax, the Mick and the Babe (the last isn't really a standard bio)

Charles Leerhsen's Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty

Brad Snyder, Beyond the Shadow of the Senators

Branch Rickey and Ronald Robert Riger, The American Diamond

Lee Allen, The Hot Stove League

Peter Morris, A Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball

Alan Schwarz, The Numbers Game

F. C. Lane, Batting: One Thousand Expert Opinions on Every Conceivable Angle of Batting Science....Collected Over a Period of Fifteen Years [1910 to 1925] From Nearly 300 Famous Players

You can argue about the order, or about whether other books should replace them in the top 25, but I'd like to know the reasoning behind any Top 100 list that omits any of them.

   16. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 30, 2021 at 05:25 PM (#6055421)
Chris Jaffe - Evaluating Baseball's Managers: A History and Analysis of Performance in the Major Leagues, 1876-2008

Terrific book. I could also add any of Rob Neyer's books to the mix, along with Howard Bryant's Shut Out.
   17. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: November 30, 2021 at 05:33 PM (#6055423)
Anybody have thoughts about what's missing?


Needs more Knotty Problems.
   18. rr: cosmopolitan elite Posted: November 30, 2021 at 05:56 PM (#6055431)
Winegardner is the guy who wrote two Godfather books, set between 1955 and 1964, with the cooperation of Mario Puzo's estate.



   19. rr: cosmopolitan elite Posted: November 30, 2021 at 06:03 PM (#6055433)
Looks like no Bill James on here; maybe I missed it. I think the NHBA should be on any list like this. Was glad to the The Long Season and The Echoing Green included. It is not a great book, but Epic Season is a pretty good and very detailed account of the 1948 AL pennant race by David Kaiser. I rec it to anybody interested in the Indians, Yankees, and/or Red Sox teams of that era.
   20. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 30, 2021 at 06:06 PM (#6055434)
Lots of great recs in the article and here, definitely some reading to catch up on during the holidays.
   21. McCoy Posted: November 30, 2021 at 06:09 PM (#6055435)
Re 19. Two Bill James books on the list.
   22. rr: cosmopolitan elite Posted: November 30, 2021 at 06:09 PM (#6055436)
ahh ok

scrolled too fast
   23. rr: cosmopolitan elite Posted: November 30, 2021 at 06:10 PM (#6055437)
I did see Neyer/James--did not count that though.
   24. McCoy Posted: November 30, 2021 at 06:11 PM (#6055438)
Paths to Glory was good and there's another book that I think Neyer co wrote along a similar line called Baseball Dynasties that is a little more breezy but doing the same thing.
   25. rr: cosmopolitan elite Posted: November 30, 2021 at 06:11 PM (#6055439)
Fred Lieb, Baseball As I Have Known It


Yeah. Anybody interested in early 20th Century baseball should check it out.
   26. rr: cosmopolitan elite Posted: November 30, 2021 at 06:13 PM (#6055440)
think Neyer co wrote along a similar called Baseball Dynasties


Neyer and Eddie Epstein, yeah
   27. Perry Posted: November 30, 2021 at 06:37 PM (#6055444)
Another one I just thought of that could be a candidate, VERY recent (spring of 2021): Luke Epplin's "Our Team," about the 1948 Indians and focusing on Bob Feller, Satchel Paige, Larry Doby, and Bill Veeck. I liked it a lot.
   28. MY PAIN IS NOT A HOLIDAY (CoB). Posted: November 30, 2021 at 06:56 PM (#6055446)
Alex Belth was never a Primate, I don't think, but is a certain level of internet blogging indie royalty from BITD. He's an archivist and serious literary nerd and real baseball fan. Bronx Banter was his deal. I can guarantee you that anything that was left out was agonized over.

In a display of *total* homer-Banterism ... he selected a book from Jay Jaffe!
   29. Rough Carrigan Posted: November 30, 2021 at 07:00 PM (#6055448)
#2 - Smokey Burgess was fat like your uncle Dwight.
   30. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 30, 2021 at 08:10 PM (#6055464)
Fred Lieb, Baseball As I Have Known It

Yeah. Anybody interested in early 20th Century baseball should check it out.


Lieb lived until 1980, when he was 92. I met him at the Hall of Fame in 1978, and he was frail but still energetic. His book mostly covers the early and mid-century game, but he does have a final chapter called Baseball: Then, Now, and Tomorrow, in which he gives his historical perspective on the events of the 70's. He lists his personal All-Star teams from 1876 through 1975, broken down in 25 year groupings by position. Here's his team from 1951-75:

1B Hodges
2B Jackie
SS Reese
3B Brooks
Utility Morgan

LF Aaron
CF Mays
RF Clemente
Utility Mantle

C: Berra, Campanella

Pitchers: Koufax, Spahn, Lemon, Wynn, Ford, Roberts, Gibson, Marichal

He added that Seaver, Hunter and Bench looked like future Hall of Famers, but by 1975 they hadn't played long enough to be included in the above list.
   31. AndrewJ Posted: November 30, 2021 at 08:25 PM (#6055466)
Provided you don't get too invested in specific rankings, these lists are always a lot of fun.

I would nominate BASEBALL EXTRA, an oversized coffee-table book of newspaper pages of baseball history from the Civil War-era through 2000, and the two-volume BASE BALL FOUNDERS/BASE BALL PIONEERS, essentially histories of the top amateur clubs of the pre-Civil War era, with brief biographies of the players on each team.

I prefer Angell's FIVE SEASONS to THE SUMMER GAME as his best collection, and I think I'd select Charles Einstein's FIRESIDE BOOKS OF BASEBALL anthology over his WILLIE'S TIME (which I still recommend).

And while EIGHT MEN OUT is an enjoyable read, Asinof's research has been called into question. I might replace it with DOUBLE PLAYS AND DOUBLE CROSSES by Don Zminda, about the White Sox during the 1920 season and the regular season games they might well have also thrown...
   32. dejarouehg Posted: December 01, 2021 at 05:07 AM (#6055502)
Loved Jane Leavy's books on Koufax and Mantle. IF you want to just read and laugh and revel in baseball goofiness, read a Tim Kirkjian book. Too much fun!

Saving this list for future reference.

I only allow myself to read a sports book every 3 or 4 books because I feel like there is so much more to learn that is more important that I don't know enough about but I'm some of these will destroy that ratio.

Surprised I didn't see any George Will books on the list.

I know it shouldn't count, but my favorite baseball book was my 1973/4 baseball encyclopedia. It was so cool to open to the first page of players and open with Hank Aaron.
   33. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 01, 2021 at 08:21 AM (#6055506)
Thanks for the kind words & recommendations for my book on managers. Bill James's book on managers is also fantastic - as is his Politics of Glory on the Hall of Fame.

Two great baseball autiographies worthy of mention: Ron Luciano's The Umpire Strikes Back is hilarious. Dick Willliams' "No More Mr. Nice Guy" is fantastic and enteratining all the way through as well.

I thought "It Ain't Over 'til Its Over" about pennant races is the best book the Prospectus crew ever did. "The Only Rule Is That It Has to Work" is much better than I expected from it.

Travis Sawchick's "Big Data Baseball" on the Pirates revival is the best of the post-Moneyball Moneyball-ish books.

Jason Turbow's "They Bled Blue: The 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers" isn't as the others listed here, but much better than I expected it to be.
   34. BDC Posted: December 01, 2021 at 09:12 AM (#6055512)
Anybody have thoughts about what's missing?

As long as The Celebrant is on a list (and it is on this one) I am usually happy. That is the one baseball novel that, after decades of writing about them, I love returning to.

If you ever run across a memoir by Steamboat Johnson called Standing the Gaff, it's well worth reading. Minor-league umpiring in the old-time high (white) minor leagues. Not on this list, it's fairly obscure, though it was reprinted by Nebraska about 25 years ago.
   35. asinwreck Posted: December 01, 2021 at 09:46 AM (#6055517)
You could do worse than spending the lockout reading books on this excellent list. I love that Bill Lee's memoir is the final title.

Books I'd add include Sandlot Seasons: Sport in Black Pittsburgh by Rob Ruck, and Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know about Baseball by Christopher J. Phillips.

Book I'm curious to read: John Owens and David Fletcher's Chili Dog MVP: Dick Allen, The 1972 White Sox and A Transforming Chicago.

   36. sotapop Posted: December 01, 2021 at 09:46 AM (#6055518)
I'm just really happy to see Josh Wilker made it as a baseball writer. Loved his Cardboard Gods blog, which I discovered right here way back in the Primer days.

As for omissions, I preferred Halberstam's "Summer of '49" to "The Teammates," but it's good to see that the writer did mention it.

If you've never read Durocher's "Nice Guys Finish Last," you should. Sure, unreliable narrator, sketchy person, but it's this sweeping Forrest Gump-ian tale. During his career he played with or managed everyone from Babe Ruth to Dizzy Dean to Willie Mays and there are great stories about all of them. It's the book that hooked me on baseball history.

A couple of others not yet mentioned: Jon Miller's "Confessions of a Baseball Purist," as pleasant a read as the guy's broadcasts, and Keith Hernandez's "Pure Baseball," which taught me some aspects of the game I'd never considered.

   37. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 01, 2021 at 10:04 AM (#6055522)
Paul Dickson's book on Durocher, "Baseball's Prodigal Son" is really good, too. You get all kinds of wild stories that Durocher left out. A personal favorite: while coaching with the Dodgers in the early 1960s, a husband filed for divorce against his wife, claiming that his wife was in love with Durocher and ignoring him. Durocher had to take the stand during the divorce proceedings, and denied that he was sleeping with the guy's wife - instead saying that he'd had an affair with the man's daughter. And the daughter was in the courtroom, stood up and declared her love for Durocher, and that she'd take him back if he'd have her. #### like that was constantly happening with Durocher, which makes Dickson's book so fascinating.

EDITED TO ADD: I may have got parts of the above story garbled up, but something insane like that happened in the book.
   38. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 01, 2021 at 10:17 AM (#6055527)
Is this where I mention I have 576 baseball books in my library? Well, I have 576 baseball books in my library (including David Kroll's "1962: Baseball and America in the Time of JFK", which just arrived in the mail yesterday).

EDIT: And digital-only copies of about 200 more!
   39. jobu Posted: December 01, 2021 at 10:22 AM (#6055529)
Shoot...I missed that this article had already been submitted and submitted it again.

It's a great list. I've read a ton of them, and have another ton in my library waiting to be read.

My 2nd-favorite Bill James Book, "This Time Let's Not Eat the Bones," is missing, but it's also a bit of a cheat as a collection of essays.

I think "Rotisserie League Baseball" is a big omission. The original book was a good read in its own right--funny, insightful, etc. It also launched the entire industry of fantasy baseball.
   40. gehrig97 Posted: December 01, 2021 at 11:02 AM (#6055539)
Best baseball book EVER: Baseball's Most Baffling MVP Ballots (Makes a great holiday gift!)

I'm not biased just because I wrote it.

OK, ok. Maybe I am. Biased. I guess I'd concede that Bill James guy has done some good stuff.

   41. gehrig97 Posted: December 01, 2021 at 11:07 AM (#6055540)
And if I'm being serious: Jane Leavy's "The Last Boy" is the best baseball bio ever written; DeLillo's "Pafko at the Wall" (the first part of "Underworld," released as a standalone novella) stands with Malamud's "The Natural" as the greatest piece of baseball fiction; and James' "New Historical Abstract" is probably the greatest single-volume compendium ever produced (certainly the most influential baseball book of the last... oh, ever).
   42. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: December 01, 2021 at 11:39 AM (#6055551)
Best baseball book EVER: Baseball's Most Baffling MVP Ballots (Makes a great holiday gift!)


In my to-read stack. Or maybe I should say tower. *sigh*
   43. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: December 01, 2021 at 11:40 AM (#6055553)
I prefer James' first Historical Abstract to its successor. That might well be because I, not surprisingly, read it first.
   44. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: December 01, 2021 at 11:53 AM (#6055554)
I've only read a handful of those listed in the article, but others I've enjoyed include:

- Bouton's "Foul Ball", in part because I was visiting the area when I bought it and hadn't yet read "Ball Four"
- George Will's "Men at Work", which helped me understand the sport a bit as a beginner
- Posnanski's "The Soul of Baseball" about Buck O'Neil, which is referenced in his entry in the article but doesn't make the list
- Lupica's "Summer of '98" must be intolerable for non-Yankee fans and probably even plenty of the inverse, but added warmth for a season I mostly missed
   45. gehrig97 Posted: December 01, 2021 at 12:11 PM (#6055556)
In my to-read stack. Or maybe I should say tower. *sigh*


Get on that!

(Kidding--if you do get around to reading, would love to know what you think)
   46. gehrig97 Posted: December 01, 2021 at 12:14 PM (#6055557)
@43: Now that I think about it, the first edition is clearly the more influential of the two. I prefer the writing in the follow-up, but I can't argue against the import and impact of the first one.

And I somehow left off Bouton's classic in my "best ever" list. "Ball Four" obviously belongs).
   47. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 01, 2021 at 12:29 PM (#6055559)
Post #43: I agree completely. Among other things, I loved the difference made between peak and career value.
   48. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 01, 2021 at 12:35 PM (#6055561)
Is this where I mention I have 576 baseball books in my library? Well, I have 576 baseball books in my library (including David Kroll's "1962: Baseball and America in the Time of JFK", which just arrived in the mail yesterday).

I'll spot you 200 and still beat you. But then you've probably got a lot more time than I have to add to your collection, and these days it's definitely a buyer's market.

EDIT: And digital-only copies of about 200 more!

The only other person I know who reads digital copies of baseball books is a manic / depressive outpatient from a mental institution. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
   49. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 01, 2021 at 12:40 PM (#6055564)
If you've never read Durocher's "Nice Guys Finish Last," you should. Sure, unreliable narrator, sketchy person, but it's this sweeping Forrest Gump-ian tale. During his career he played with or managed everyone from Babe Ruth to Dizzy Dean to Willie Mays and there are great stories about all of them. It's the book that hooked me on baseball history.

Definitely a great read, if a "bit" fact-challenged. You might try Paul Dickson's Leo Durocher: Baseball's Prodigal Son for a more balanced and yet overall positive take that includes his HoF campaign. Amazon has lots of hardcover copies from $2.00 on up.
   50. TJ Posted: December 01, 2021 at 12:47 PM (#6055567)
Dear Baseball Hall of Fame,

Would you please consider removing that bogus, navel-gazing piece of crap known as the BBWAA Career Excellence Award (aka the J.G. Taylor Spink Award) from your hallowed halls and replace it with a something dedicated to recognizing HOF-level books on baseball? We would much rather read great baseball books than the scribblings of pompous weasels that think they are bigger than the game...

Respectfully,
The baseball fans that you say you want to attract
   51. SoSH U at work Posted: December 01, 2021 at 01:07 PM (#6055574)
Dear Hall of Fame,

Don't listen to him.

OK, I think it would be great for the Hall to have something dedicated to recognizing HOF-level books. It doesn't have to come at the expense of the Spink. A lot of really great baseball writers who truly love the game have earned the Spink and likely consider it the highest honor in their profession.
   52. Mayor Blomberg Posted: December 01, 2021 at 01:31 PM (#6055586)
No Coover?
   53. BDC Posted: December 01, 2021 at 02:09 PM (#6055596)
No Coover?

The UBA was the second novel I looked for, after finding The Celebrant … but I don't know if I'd go to the barricades over that. It has not dated well - the stuff with Long Lew and Fanny was "ribald" BITD but now just looks rapey, for instance. It still has a great central idea.

What other fiction is there on this list? It is hard to read. I see Man on Spikes - that's an interesting book. I am not as much of a fan of Long Gone. The Natural is also a strong idea and a kind of "necessary" book, as is Shoeless Joe, even if both are flawed. I would take Bang the Drum Slowly over The Southpaw, though, by far.

21 is an excellent choice for graphic novel. But one I should pitch a fit about is James Sturm's graphic novel The Golem's Mighty Swing. That is the real deal and easily a top-100 book.
   54. TJ Posted: December 01, 2021 at 02:16 PM (#6055600)
OK, I think it would be great for the Hall to have something dedicated to recognizing HOF-level books. It doesn't have to come at the expense of the Spink. A lot of really great baseball writers who truly love the game have earned the Spink and likely consider it the highest honor in their profession.


Great- let them hang their Spink plaque on the wall of the BBWAA headquarters or something. Let it be their own "team Hall of Fame".
   55. SoSH U at work Posted: December 01, 2021 at 02:37 PM (#6055607)
Great- let them hang their Spink plaque on the wall of the BBWAA headquarters or something. Let it be their own "team Hall of Fame".


The war is over. Let it go.

   56. TJ Posted: December 01, 2021 at 02:45 PM (#6055610)
Over! Did you say "Over"? Nothing is over until we decide it's over! Was it over when Babe Ruth was beat out for the Rookie of the Year award? Hell, no!

(Er, did he say Babe Ruth? Forget it, he's rolling...)
   57. oscar madisox Posted: December 01, 2021 at 03:46 PM (#6055627)
Not a lot to argue with on the list provided, and plenty of good additions in the comments.

My additions:

The first Total Baseball. Reference books get short shrift on lists like this. It deserves a shout out.
Golenbock's Dynasty. Easily the best of his team histories. Bums, Fenway and the others were shite.
Someone mentioned If I Never Get Back. It was an excellent read. I liked the sequel too (Two in the Field), though baseball wasn't as prominent.
Bill Lee's The Wrong Stuff had its moments though I haven't re-read it in years.
So help me, I actually liked Hardball by Bowie Kuhn, though I don't agree with much of what he did as commissioner.
Finally, there's Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud. Joe Pepitone's life as a train wreck. I've read it often. Some parts make me laugh. Mostly I shake my head.







   58. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: December 01, 2021 at 03:48 PM (#6055629)
Another fiction nominee -- Michael Bishop's Brittle Innings. A finalist for the Hugo Award, I believe.
   59. dejarouehg Posted: December 01, 2021 at 04:20 PM (#6055645)
As a kid, I remember Zander Hollander's annual Complete Book of Baseball. Best money ever spent.

Recently read Madden's biography on Seaver. Very Good.

Also, Art Shamsky's book on he and a few 69 Mets teammates going to visit a fading Seaver in California was a great read if you're into the Mets of that era.

Appreciate all the recommendations people are making here.

Will definitely pick up the Durocher book.
   60. Snowboy Posted: December 01, 2021 at 04:47 PM (#6055655)
I have Raymond Garthoff's "Detente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan" on my bookshelf, basically a 1200pg day-by-day account of diplomatic relations between the two countries...so sometimes I like to kick back with a good coffee table book! BASE BALL PIONEERS sounds good, thanks for recommendation [31] AndrewJ.

I'm familiar with many on this list. I'm not much into fiction of any genre, but I really like "Willie's Time" by Charles Epstein and "Hoopla" by Harry Stein (not on the list) which is about the Black Sox. Sounds like I should make time for Asinof's "Man on Spikes"

Speaking of not on the list, and Black Sox, it wouldn't be one of the 100 best baseball books ever written but I would recommend "Shoeless: The Life and Times of Joe Jackson" by David L. Fleitz as well researched and readable.

[30] Jolly Old, you met Fred Lieb: wow.
I could leave it at that, but I'll add a double wow, related to him: he chose 1951-1975 OF as Aaron, Mays, Clemente
And not Mickey Mantle?.

Further, and related, per [30] Fred Lieb chose Jackie Robinson over Joe Morgan (thru 1975) at 2B for that era. That doesn't necessarily get a disagreement from me, but another wow. TFA article recommends Arnold Rampersad’s "Jackie Robinson: A Biography" (have not read) and says "To see Robinson's career numbers,” Roger Kahn once wrote, “is to see Lincoln through Federal budgets and to miss the Emancipation Proclamation. Double plays, stolen bases, indeed the bat, the ball, the glove, were only artifacts with which Jackie Robinson made his country and you and me and all of us a shade more free.” I'm listening, Roger.

Speaking of Kahn, I'm glad his "Boys of Summer" is in TFA and on my bookshelf. But that makes me all the more embarrassed to possess his co-authored book "Pete Rose: My Story" (1989) which begins with the two authors dedicating the book to their dead fathers somehow meeting and talking baseball. Maybe it's me, maybe I was too fresh off watching Kevin Costner and reading Kinsella, but I really wish Pete hadn't involved Kahn in his lies, and started the book that way.

Back to coffee table books, I saw "Bull City Summer" in TFA and that's been on my wishlist for a few years. I was impressed by the 79% off $11 price link for Amazon, alas that doesn't work up here. I have five Gordie Howe biographies, but baseball books are a little harder to come by, it's still $75 up here. So I asked an American friend to pick it up for me and hold it, maybe the border will open again someday.

For now I'll look for a few on this list at my local used bookstore, or reread some that I already have. Maybe I'll crack open my Charles Conlon photograph collection (also not on the list) and look deep into the eyes of the 1927 Yankees. Then do as Rogers Hornsby said: stare out the window, and wait for spring.
   61. TJ Posted: December 01, 2021 at 04:48 PM (#6055656)
Appreciate all the recommendations people are making here.


Totally agree, and thanks to everyone for continuing to share their favorites. Already added all the titles I have not yet read to my wish list, and my wife says to expect to expect Santa bringing me a couple of them if I stay off the naughty list for the rest of the year.

Not being certain I can, I'm going to find a copy of "Seasons of Hell" this weekend and not risk missing out...
   62. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: December 01, 2021 at 05:11 PM (#6055662)
Too lazy now to check, but IIRC the original Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia didn't make the list. I was a kid when it came out in 1969 & only remember seeing it advertised in magazines, but from what I've read it was an absolutely monumental
game-changer in any number of ways.
   63. Addie Joss Posted: December 01, 2021 at 08:08 PM (#6055693)
"You Gotta Have Wa", third to last on the list is a great read. It's about baseball in Japan and goes into detail about Americans playing there and their often humorous failures and successes in adjusting to Japanese baseball etiquette.
Alec Belth came up with an excellent list of books.
   64. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 01, 2021 at 08:41 PM (#6055698)
The only other person I know who reads digital copies of baseball books is a manic / depressive outpatient from a mental institution.

Well, that explains a lot.
   65. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 01, 2021 at 09:34 PM (#6055720)
Really glad to see Cait Murphy’s Crazy ‘08 on this list. This was one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read. After reading it and Leehrsen’s Cobb bio, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Deadball era may have been the best time to be a fan in history.

I would also stump for James’ Politics of Glory. For me it’s his best writing and most trenchant work. I learned life lessons about the importance of critical thinking from it. And it has a DIY/how-to thing going for it too that makes it practical.

Psyched to see Wa on this list and surprised by Sayonara Home Run. It’s not what I’d call a substantive book, mostly pictures of baseball cards.

   66. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 01, 2021 at 09:41 PM (#6055728)
BTW: Reading Whiting’s Tokyo Junkie currently. He does a nice job of showing the city’s growth and changing nature. Plus the big cultural gaps he encountered. Not Pulitzer material, but it does a nice job of putting flesh on the bone of You Gotta Have Wa by deepening the historical, economic, and cultural context around it.
   67. reech Posted: December 01, 2021 at 10:53 PM (#6055752)
The Great American Novel by Phillip Roth
Ron Darling has written 3 very good books.
And a shout out to Matt Christopher- who wrote a bunch of great grade school books about baseball...my favorite books as a young 'un.
   68. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 01, 2021 at 11:23 PM (#6055755)
[30] Jolly Old, you met Fred Lieb: wow.

Well, not exactly. I passed him on the steps of the HoF library. If I'd had more nerve I would've interrupted his conversation just to shake his hand. I think the only book of his I don't have is one he wrote on Astrology. He's chiseled alongside Koppett, Angell and James on my Mt. Rushmore of baseball writers.

I could leave it at that, but I'll add a double wow, related to him: he chose 1951-1975 OF as Aaron, Mays, Clemente
And not Mickey Mantle?.


I'm pretty sure that was because all of the named three were better fielders than Mantle. You did see that he chose The Mick as a utility backup. You could leave Ted Williams off an all-time team in LF for pretty much the same reason, and just make him your DH.
   69. Perry Posted: December 02, 2021 at 12:48 PM (#6055864)
BTW: Reading Whiting’s Tokyo Junkie currently.


Was going to mention that when I saw the comment on You Gotta Have Wa -- I stumbled on Tokyo Junkie in library a couple of weeks ago, remembered Whiting's name from his baseball stuff, and checked it out. Very entertaining and interesting, I agree. Whiting's personal story is fascinating; he was stationed in Tokyo by the Air Force ca. 1960 as a 19-year-old kid from rural California who'd basically never been anywhere, fell in love with the place, and basically never left.
   70. TomH Posted: December 02, 2021 at 03:50 PM (#6055921)
Yogi book. He didn't say half of the things he said!
   71. My name is Votto, and I love to get Moppo Posted: December 02, 2021 at 04:15 PM (#6055925)
- George Will's "Men at Work", which helped me understand the sport a bit as a beginner


Totally agree, this book greatly changed my view of the game.

Has anyone read "The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop."? Looks like it's out of print, and used copies are $30 or more. Is it worth chasing down?
   72. Hombre Brotani Posted: December 02, 2021 at 08:11 PM (#6055969)
No David Falkner books on the list, but his "Nine Sides of the Diamond" was one of my favorite books growing up, and the book he did with Sadaharu Oh, "A Zen Way of Baseball," probably should be on this list somewhere.
   73. Tom Nawrocki Posted: December 02, 2021 at 11:54 PM (#6056001)
Has anyone read "The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop."? Looks like it's out of print, and used copies are $30 or more. Is it worth chasing down?


I read it many years ago and thought it was a fantastic portrait of an obsessive who builds an entire world out of a baseball dice game. It's about both obsessive fandom and a desire to play God, and the detail Coover puts into the universe of Waugh's game (which is something the character builds from the ground up, not APBA or anything like that) is astonishing. I don't recall the rapey stuff BDC discusses back in post 53, but I reckon it is both cringey and a fairly accurate depiction of the kind of misogyny the world was steeped in back in 1968.

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