27 October 2012

Best Baseball Books

There are many great baseball books out there, as it is a genre that has seen a hundred years worth of literature. Here is a list of some of the best baseball books.

1. Roger Kahn - The Boys of Summer
This is a book about young men who learned to play baseball during the 1930s and 1940s, and then went on to play for one of the most exciting major-league ball clubs ever fielded, the team that broke the color barrier with Jackie Robinson. It is a book by and about a sportswriter who grew up near Ebbets Field, and who had the good fortune in the 1950s to cover the Dodgers for the Herald Tribune. This is a book about what happened to Jackie, Carl Erskine, Pee Wee Reese, and the others when their glory days were behind them. In short, it is a book about America, about fathers and sons, prejudice and courage, triumph and disaster, and told with warmth, humor, wit, candor, and love. - Quotes from The Boys of Summer

2. Michael Lewis - Moneyball
Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s general manager, is leading a revolution. Reinventing his team on a budget, he needs to outsmart the richer teams. He signs undervalued players whom the scouts consider flawed but who have a knack for getting on base, scoring runs, and winning games. Moneyball is a quest for the secret of success in baseball and a tale of the search for new baseball knowledge—insights that will give the little guy who is willing to discard old wisdom the edge over big money.

3. David Halberstam - October 1964
October 1964 should be a hit with old-time baseball fans, who'll relish the opportunity to relive that year's to-die-for World Series, when the dynastic but aging New York Yankees squared off against the upstart St. Louis Cardinals. It should be a hit with younger students of the game, who'll eat up the vivid portrayals of legends like Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris of the Yankees and Bob Gibson and Lou Brock of the Cardinals. Most of all, however, David Halberstam's new book should be a hit with anyone interested in understanding the important interplay between sports and society.

4. Bill Veeck - Veeck--As In Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck
Bill Veeck was an inspired team builder, a consummate showman, and one of the greatest baseball men ever involved in the game. His classic autobiography, written with the talented sportswriter Ed Linn, is an uproarious book packed with information about the history of baseball and tales of players and owners, including some of the most entertaining stories in all of sports literature.

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

6. Bill James - The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract
When Bill James published his original Historical Baseball Abstract in 1985, he produced an immediate classic, hailed by the Chicago Tribune as the "holy book of baseball." Now, baseball's beloved "Sultan of Stats" (The Boston Globe) is back with a fully revised and updated edition for the new millennium.

7. David Halberstam - Summer of '49
The year was 1949, and a war-weary nation turned from the battlefields to the ball fields in search of new heroes. It was a summer that marked the beginning of a sports rivalry unequaled in the annals of athletic competition. The awesome New York Yankees and the indomitable Boston Red Sox were fighting for supremacy of baseball's American League, and an aging Joe DiMaggio and a brash, headstrong hitting phenomenon named Ted Williams led their respective teams in a classic pennant duel of almost mythic proportions—one that would be decided in an explosive head-to-head confrontation on the last day of the season.

8. Jim Bouton - Ball Four
When first published in 1970, Ball Four stunned the sports world. The commissioner, executives, and players were shocked. Sportswriters called author Jim Bouton a traitor and "social leper." Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn tried to force him to declare the book untrue. Fans, however, loved the book. And serious critics called it an important social document. Today, Jim Bouton is still not invited to Oldtimer's Days at Yankee Stadium. But his landmark book is still being read by people who don'tordinarily follow baseball.

9. Bernard Malamud - The Natural
The Natural, Bernard Malamud’s first novel, published in 1952, is also the first—and some would say still the best—novel ever written about baseball. In it Malamud, usually appreciated for his unerring portrayals of postwar Jewish life, took on very different material—the story of a superbly gifted “natural” at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era—and invested it with the hardscrabble poetry, at once grand and altogether believable, that runs through all his best work. Four decades later, Alfred Kazin’s comment still holds true: “Malamud has done something which—now that he has done it!—looks as if we have been waiting for it all our lives. He has really raised the whole passion and craziness and fanaticism of baseball as a popular spectacle to its ordained place in mythology.”

10. Roger Angell - The Summer Game
The Summer Game, Roger Angell’s first book on the sport, changed baseball writing forever. Thoughtful, funny, appreciative of the elegance of the game and the passions invested by players and fans, it goes beyond the usual sports reporter’s beat to examine baseball’s complex place in our American psyche.

11. Jonah Keri - The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First
What happens when three financial industry whiz kids and certified baseball nuts take over an ailing major league franchise and implement the same strategies that fueled their success on Wall Street? In the case of the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, an American League championship happens—the culmination of one of the greatest turnarounds in baseball history.

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