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June 6, 2012

The Lineup Card

10 Favorite Baseball Books

by Baseball Prospectus

1. ​The Numbers Game​ by Alan Schwarz
Having devoured Moneyball a year earlier, I was ridiculously excited to read The Numbers Game by Alan Schwarz seven years ago when I happened across it at the bookstore. Yes, I used to go to the bookstore every couple of weeks and just peruse the shelves. Is that even possible these days? In Game, Schwarz tours the rich history of statistics in baseball from Henry Chadwick to Allan Roth to Bill James in a riveting 258 pages leaving no statistical stone unturned. 

This book took my baseball fandom to another level. Moneyball was the impetus for me to dive headlong into the stats craze and learn more about it, while Game was my first venture into the middle of the pool preparing me for my 2006 venture into the deep end of the pool when BP’s very own Baseball Between the Numbers was released. I absorbed all of it. 

I grew up a baseball diehard in suburban Detroit; I loved playing for hours at the park at the end of our block then nerding out over packs of baseball cards, spending hours playing RBI Baseball video games, and keeping my own stats in reams of notebooks before eventually discovering the greatness of Front Page Sports ’98 on the computer in high school (what. a. dork!). 

These books, and Game especially, were the natural progression of my fandom in my early and mid-20s culminating with the unthinkable: a writing position with Baseball Prospectus to start my 30s. —Paul Sporer

2. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract ​by Bill James
The Bill James New Historical Baseball Abstract may not be the best baseball book of all time, but it's far and away my favorite. It's my favorite because of when it came along, just as I was becoming more aware of the game's complexity and stats. Just as I left college and had time to delve into a book for fun. And just as I was craving more baseball after a terrific 2001 season that saw the Twins finally show some life again. So when Rob Neyer started talking up this thousand-page love letter to the game, I knew what I would be reading in the fall of 2001.

I remember buying the Abstract on the day it came out, and walking around with it for a month or so. I read it while I walked to work from the parking lot. I read it at lunch. I read it while I watched baseball. I read it in bed. What spoke to me about James' book was not the complicated Win Shares system he briefly described in the back, nor the rankings of the players (though that was fun). It was the stories James told about the game that traced its evolution through vignettes and with irreverence. Reading it taught me not just about the game itself, but about how much I liked the game and why. Because I devoured every single page in James' book, and when I was done, I wanted more. The sheer volume of information in that book is still mindboggling. It's still one of my favorite books to turn to when doing research or when I just want to kill a few minutes by rereading a couple stories. —Michael Bates

3. The Bullpen Gospels ​by Dirk Hayhurst
I had front-row seats behind the visitors' bullpen for the Giants game on August 23, 2008—a birthday gift from a close friend. Then a penny-pinching high school graduate set to head off to college a week later, I crossed my fingers and hoped to find myself a foot away from Jake Peavy or Greg Maddux for this rare treat. But when I looked up the pitching probables for that afternoon, I found that a 27-year-old I had never heard of would be warming up in front of me for his first big-league start. No Peavy, no Maddux, just a minor-league veteran with major-league dreams.

Two years later, that pitcher was the author of my favorite baseball book—a book about the years he spent toiling in A-ball for the chance he finally got that August day. As fans, we can learn how to analyze baseball for ourselves, and we can read recaps of games on the field and transactions upstairs from beat writers. An inside look at clubhouse culture and minor-league life from a player submerged in it is the rarest of treats—the equivalent of front-row seats for a starving college student. And The Bullpen Gospels by Dirk Hayhurst provided that window from all angles, personal and professional, better than any other book I've read. (The sequel, Out of My League, is lying next to me, half-finished.)

I had to look up the final score of that game, and I couldn't have given you a single number from Hayhurst's first career line. But because of The Bullpen Gospels, I'll never forget that I sat a foot away from Dirk Hayhurst as he prepared for his major-league debut. —Daniel Rathman

4. Ball Four​ by Jim Bouton
A sitcom adapted from the seminal baseball book Ball Four was part of CBS's prime-time lineup in the fall of 1976. The show only lasted five weeks before being canceled, but it piqued my interest enough to check the book, written by former major-league pitcher Jim Bouton, out of my school library. In retrospect, I'm surprised my school had Ball Four on the shelves, because it was very controversial for its time. Ball Four was Bouton's diary of spending the 1969 season with the expansion Pilots and Astros. Much of it was a humorous look at the frivolous stuff that goes on in major-league clubhouses, hotels, airplanes and buses. However, Bouton was also the first person to pull back the curtain to expose the fact that many players liked to chase women, drink heavily, and abuse amphetamines. It marked the end of innocence for professional athletes. The media began ending its chummy relationship with the players and began covering them more objectively. Bouton also ended Ball Four with this memorable line: "All these years you think you're gripping the ball, but it is really the ball that is gripping you." Little did I know in my preteen days, but that line would wind up describing most of my adult life as well." —John Perrotto

5. ​Breaking into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime ​by Jean Hastings Ardell
I'm Captain Obvious, so I'll go ahead and state the obvious: A lot of guys write baseball books. And a lot of guys have played baseball. However, women have contributed to the national pastime for decades, and not just by serving as eye candy for clubhouse reports, cleat chasers, or a bikini-clad pool attendant for the Miami Marlins. Women have contributed as overexcited broadcasters, but apart from that, there have also been professional female players, umpires, trainers, executives, owners, scribes, and historians.

I received a copy of ​Breaking into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime, from one of those contributors, Christina Kahrl, as a gift. I admit, though I do love baseball history, my knowledge of women in the game was sorely lacking. Jean Hastings Ardell narrows the gap, delving into seven major ways women have contributed to the game, and helping us understand that women have always had a significant involvement in the game. Unlike many baseball books, Breaking into Baseball is written more from a female perspective; just a few of the baseball journeys chronicled are those of Kim Ng, Justine Siegal, Marge Schott, and Bernice Gera. Yes, gents: Morganna makes a flash appearance. —Stephani Bee

6. Skinnybones​ by Barbara Park
Considering how many times I read it, I'm embarrassed to admit how few specifics I can recall about Skinnybones, a young-adult novel about a boy who is skinny and plays baseball against boys who aren't. (One thing I do recall is his complaint that his bones are actually normal-sized; it's the lack of fat and muscle that makes him skinny, and his nickname a lie.) I can't recommend the book enough, especially if you're around 11 years old and skinny. But rather than bluff on details, I'll just quote a fifth-grade book report I found online:

In the beginning of the book, Alex is talking about his cat and he is sending in a slip to try to get on T.V. Then, Alex talks about how bad he plays baseball. He always gets the most improved player award at the Awards Assembly. He starts out reeking and ends up stinking. Next, he has a pitch out with T.J Stoner and he ends up losing. Then he has a baseball game and T.J Stoner is pitching for the other team. If T.J wins it will be his 125th straight game that he wins. Finally, Alex feels great even though T.J got to go on T.V. because Alex’ entry slip for kitty fritters won!

Okay, yeah, that's just a perfect description of Skinnybones, my favorite baseball book. —Sam Miller

7. Glory of Their Times​ by Lawrence S. Ritter
Step one: Buy a tape recorder. Step two: Spend several years tracking down old ballplayers from the turn of the century, most of whom have fallen off the map. Step three: Talk to them, and remember to hit record. Step four: Transcribe.

Players like to tell stories, and Lawrence Ritter let them. Inspired by the death of Ty Cobb in 1961, Ritter spent the next five years following the four steps outlined above. The result was The Glory of Their Times, an oral history of baseball in the late 19th and early 20th centuries “told by the men who played it.” Several of those men were Hall of Famers whose names you probably know. If you read it, you’ll know much more than their names.

There are many reasons to buy the book: to be entertained, of course, and to learn about baseball, but also to learn about life in the United States a century ago, the nature of nostalgia, and the art of telling stories. There are embellishments, and there are almost certainly inaccuracies, but take the book for what it is—old men remembering being young men, with both the wisdom and the selective memory of advanced age—and you’ll get a lot out of it. Some of the players thought the game, and the world, had gone downhill since their day. Others were much more optimistic. And most of them said things like “what the dickens” and “a real humdinger.”

Bob Feller called The Glory of Their Times “a wonderful book.” Bob Feller wasn’t one for compliments. But Bob Feller was right. —Ben Lindbergh

8. Lords of the Realm​ by John Helyar
In 1990, John Helyar and Bryan Burrough chronicled the leveraged buyout of corporate giant RJR Nabisco in Barbarians at the Gate, a book that defined Wall Street’s wild ride in the ‘80s. Where does a writer turn for a worthy subject after tackling the unholy marriage of egos, betrayals, mergers and greed on Wall Street? The boardrooms and ownership groups of Major League Baseball, of course.

Helyar’s next project, Lords of the Realm, provides a definitive history of the business side of baseball, and the cast of characters is irresistible: Judge Landis and Charles Comiskey, Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson, Bowie Kuhn and Marvin Miller, Charlie Finley and Gussie Busch, Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf. Helyar puts you inside their deliberations and arguments at crucial moments throughout the game’s history.

The book also delivers a long line of laughs. In one memorable exchange, yacht-racing aficionado Ted Turner addressed his new colleagues at his first owners meeting after buying the Braves: “I’m glad to be here because I love competition. There’s nothing like being on the ocean, with the strong winds blowing and the wind in your face and not knowing your destiny.”

“Son,” replied longtime Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, “you came to the right place.” —Jeff Euston

9. The Natural​ by Bernard Malamud
During my formative years as a baseball fan, I read Bernard Malamud's The Natural. I'm pretty sure it was 1984, but that period is a blur these days, so I could be off by a year or three. Anyway, I've forgotten much about the book beyond the fact that it was beautiful and heartbreaking. And that it was beautiful because it was heartbreaking.

A quick check of Wikipedia, bastion of truth, reveals that the movie was released in 1984. I definitely read the book before the movie came out, because when that happened, I very much wanted to see it. And then I heard about the ending.

For those who haven't read or seen The Natural, I'll just say that a central plot point—perhaps the central plot point—was altered for Hollywood. It changed the entire meaning of the story and its lead character.

I still haven't seen the movie. I've heard wonderful things about it, and I'm sure many of them are true. But for me, watching the movie version would be a bit like watching an adaptation of Lord of the Rings that had Sauron winning. It might be interesting, and even good, but it's not the story I know and love.

Or the story I knew and loved. Like I say, it's been a while. I'll have to read it again. —Geoff Young

10. Juiced by Jose Canseco
While its quite common [and easy] to dismiss the sensationalized fluff of a fame-starved narcissist as nothing more than adolescent bluster, it’s a more rewarding exercise to view the content as an articulate portrait of contemporary life in major-league baseball, documented by the pen of a modern realist, the José Maria de Eça de Queiroz of former steroid users. With the prose of a skilled 6-year-old and the nuance of a bowling ball, Jose Canseco takes us on a journey inside the secret world of a professional athlete, pulling the curtain back on the banality of daily life through the advanced technique of monosyllabic busts and poorly-constructed thought. In Chapter Eight—Imports, Road Beef, and Extra Cell Phones—Canseco delivers his ultimate critique of modern society, opening the eyes of the audience to the routines of our heroes, the great men with great flaws. My five favorite quotes from Chapter Eight, which I think sum up the chapter (and the book) with a pure and direct honesty rarely found in modern literature:

“We’re men; we have egos, and libidos, and that's a tough set of forces to combat.”

“Did I sleep with a lot of those women? Sure I did."

“It was much better to hook up with a beautiful stripper and then go back to your place.”

“Oh my God, I’m 0-for-20. I’m going to get the ugliest girl I can find and have sex with her.”

“But here’s the point I want to emphasize: what happens to your testes has nothing to do with any shrinking of the penis.”

Juiced: A Modern Classic. Jason Parks

Related Content:  Baseball Books,  Best Baseball Books

48 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

amazin_mess

The Numbers Game is fantastic.

Jun 06, 2012 03:49 AM
rating: 3
 
burmart

I'm reading Lords of the Realm and am loving it. Unfortunately, Amazon wants 23 bucks for the Kindle edition, so I found a paperback copy of the book in a used book store for 3 bucks.

Take that, Amazon and publishers. I would have bought it digitally for a reasonable price of 10 bucks, but asking $23 for a digital copy is ridiculous. Instead of having some of my money, you have none of it in relation to that book purchase.

Overall, though, it's a fantastic read.

Jun 06, 2012 04:41 AM
rating: 4
 
Slingerland65

Jason Parks is hysterical.

Jun 06, 2012 04:46 AM
rating: 7
 
Jim ONeill

The first baseball player to describe the "inside" aspect of the life of a major leaguer in a season long chronicle was Cincinnati reliever Jim Brosnan, whose book, "The Long Season" pre-dated Bouton's book by a few years. It is filled with the pathos of ballplayers struggling to stay in the game as well as an insight into the off the field antics that are now legend. In addition, it is the first mention of "greenies" and shows the rather casual attitude toward their use. But Bouton's book was less subtle and since it was about the Yankees, it gathered more attention. Still my favorite of all the chronicle type books.

Jun 06, 2012 05:05 AM
rating: 4
 
pobothecat

Great, great call there, jim.

Jun 06, 2012 11:41 AM
rating: 0
 
Llarry

Also one of my favorites, I'm glad someone else brought it up. Among my favorite parts is the glossary, which defines terms like 'Shelled - said of a pitcher whose pitches return from the plate going faster than when they arrived' and that a 'Mop-up-man' also answers to "Who the hell wants to pitch?".

Jun 06, 2012 14:21 PM
rating: 0
 
radarbinder

"The Long Season" and "Pennant Race" by Jim Brosnan were the first look into the dugouts, clubhouses and lifestyle of major league ballplayers. Brosnan to an extent begot Bouton but the subtlety of the relief pitcher's writing style gives you a lot of information "between the lines." For instance, there was the revelation that several Reds considered part-time outfielder Jerry Lynch (whose platoon and pinch-hit performances were exceptional) meant more to the Reds than Frank Robinson, the guy who led the NL in OPS and was awarded the NL MVP. This and other portions of the books reveal the tail end of racism in baseball. Baseball fans who do not read these two books are missing genuine history that is presented well by a literate, observant author.

Jim Brosnan was an early iteration of the closer, a man who was in the top ten in saves five times between 1958 and 1963. He had an above-average career for a reliever. His ERA+ was a respectable 112 and he had a .539 winning percentage with 55 wins and 67 saves. In this modern era he likely would have compiled over 200 saves. He was a good player but I would assert he was a better writer.

Jun 06, 2012 23:52 PM
rating: 1
 
gweedoh565

Ball Four may be one of my favorite books - baseball or otherwise - of all time. Not only does it 'pull back the curtain' on major leaguers and the psyche of a player as he navigates successes and failures, but it is hilarious, and Bouton is incredibly insightful, candid, and unabashed in his musings (to the somewhat amusing annoyance of his teammates, both then and, of course, after the book was published).

It's basically a direct pipeline of stories about the majors through the filter of a baseball geek with a deep passion for the game.

Jun 06, 2012 07:00 AM
rating: 5
 
Sean

I think it still has an incredible societal perspective too. I found the descriptions of U.S. society during the Vietnam War resonated with me more than three decades later when I was reading it during the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Jun 06, 2012 10:26 AM
rating: 3
 
gweedoh565

That said, my favorite quote from Ball Four is:

"Baseball is an ass."

Jun 06, 2012 10:53 AM
rating: 0
 
npb7768

I re-read the The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book every spring...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_American_Baseball_Card_Flipping,_Trading_and_Bubble_Gum_Book

Jun 06, 2012 08:19 AM
rating: 1
 
stevebro

You've gotten most of the great ones: James' HBA, The Glory of Their Times, Ball Four. The only obvious one that has been left out, in my view, is Eight Men Out, Asimoff's telling of the Black Sox scandal. After reading that you'll believe that Charles Cominskey is the real villian and that his plaque should be torn from the wall in Cooperstown.
And Perrotto is right. The last line of Ball Four is a classic. He's slightly off however. It reads: You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.

Jun 06, 2012 09:11 AM
rating: 2
 
stevebro

I should have mentioned that a new book that arguably will be on this type of list ten years from now is The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. Its a novel about a slick-fielding shortstop, with a great made-up college fight song:
So be cheery,my lads
Let your hearts never fall
While the bold Harpooner
Is striking the ball.

Jun 06, 2012 09:18 AM
rating: 0
 
tmangell

Just finished it a couple of days ago. Brilliant!

Thought I'd mention Robert Coover's The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J Henry Waugh, Prop; Brad Snyder's A Well-Paid Slave (about Curt Flood and his fight for free agency); and Sam Walker's Fantasyland. All worth owning in hard copy.

Jun 06, 2012 16:41 PM
rating: 0
 
steve.k

I have the Bill James HBA next to the bed. I probably pick it up 3-4 times a week. Every week. A classic.

Jun 06, 2012 09:44 AM
rating: 2
 
mikebuetow

"Favourite?" I clicked the link just to be sure you hadn't added a cricket expert.

Jun 06, 2012 10:02 AM
rating: 3
 
Lou Doench

"The Soul of Baseball" and "The Machine" by Joe Posnanski. The former made me cry, the latter made me cheer.

Jun 06, 2012 10:07 AM
rating: 2
 
mrdannyg

It's official. Jason Parks is so amazing, he was able to convince me to read Jose Canseco. That is just an astounding feat.

Jun 06, 2012 10:11 AM
rating: 2
 
iorg34

"10 Favourite Books". Good humour. Analyse the encyclopaedia, and you'll realise there is no grey area - this is a British spelling. As I was sceptical that BP's esteemed editors would make a wilful error, I took the lift to the fifth storey of the reference library, checked the card catalogue, and ploughed through a useage guide. I tucked into a cosy corner, hoping my meagre intellect would have the fibre to plough through the issue at hand. On my way home, I stepped in dog faeces, got a flat tyre and pulled to the kerb. I wrote a phoney cheque to the ageing anaemic proprietor and travelled home to my flat.

Jun 06, 2012 10:19 AM
rating: 11
 
BP staff member Geoff Young
BP staff

Sorry to hear about your lorry's tyre.

Jun 06, 2012 10:56 AM
 
iorg34

Actually, I was driving my estate car. And it wasn't any olde motorway, but a dual carriageway. I was on the road surface attempting to open the boot for my extra tyre, and a juggernaut headed towards the car park ran straight into my side bumper. Apparantly their was a diversion around the flyover. Well, he was headed to the car park while drink-driving and eating a snickerdoodle biscuit and some crisps. I hope they take the blighter's driving licence; he nearly went through his windscreen.

Jun 06, 2012 11:16 AM
rating: 5
 
BP staff member Matt Kory
BP staff

Someone's been watching a lot of Top Gear. Or, you know, actually living in the UK. Probably Top Gear though.

Jun 06, 2012 11:45 AM
 
eastlaker
(271)

I would have liked to see two lists: fiction and non-fiction. It would have offered up a lot more books. Maybe even get Brittle Innings (fiction), The First Fireside Book of Baseball (fiction/non-fiction/poetry etc) and The Gashouse Gang(non-fiction).

Jun 06, 2012 10:53 AM
rating: 1
 
pobothecat

Three come to mind that I'll throw out there just 'cause they deserve mention.

"Bang the Drum Slowly", Mark Harris. (Made into a 70's movie with Robert DeNiro and Michael Moriarity. Worth Watching.)

"So You Think You Know Baseball", Harry Simmons (A book full of one-page rule-puzzles. Best baseball illustrations ever.)

"Veeck As in Wreck", Bill Veeck (Because there can't be a discussion of baseball books without it.)

Jun 06, 2012 11:33 AM
rating: 5
 
Dave Scott

It's an American game, it deserves the American spelling of "Favorite."

Jun 06, 2012 11:37 AM
rating: 0
 
NYYanks826

Don't get your knickers up in a bunch, old chap.

Jun 06, 2012 12:00 PM
rating: 3
 
NYYanks826

Looking forward to reading Dirk Hayhurst's follow-up to The Bullpen Gospels. That was definitely one of my favorite baseball reads of all time.

Jun 06, 2012 12:01 PM
rating: 0
 
CrashD

Anybody remember The Boys of Summer? Anybody remember the end of Chapter 1, when the young newspaper reporter describes what it was like to stand in the batter's box while Clem Labine was warming up and survive to explain, in layman's terms, why right handed hitters do better against left handed pitchers? If not, there's a treat waiting for you.

Jun 06, 2012 12:32 PM
rating: 0
 
foulpole75

Boys of Summer should be on this list. But if you're reading Roger Kahn — and again, you should be — you should be reading Roger Angell, too. His books from the 60s and 70s are compilations of his literary visits to spring training each year for the New Yorker, and are delightful ways to enjoy the game.

Jun 10, 2012 14:15 PM
rating: 1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Is it signifcant that, besides a mention by Alan Schwarz, none of the ten authors listed Moneyball as their favorite and none of the commentators even mentioned it?

As for myself, I'll admit I enjoyed Three Nights in August.

Jun 06, 2012 13:31 PM
rating: 1
 
Richard Bergstrom

I mean, besides a mention by Sporer.

Jun 06, 2012 13:31 PM
rating: 0
 
Llarry

Is Moneyball really a "favourite" type of book? Important, yes. A good read, sure. But I just don't think it's the kind of book that becomes a favorite, whatever your likes/dislikes, there's some other book that will jump ahead of it.

Jun 06, 2012 14:37 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I could ask the same question about "Juiced".

And yes, Moneyball is one of my favorites.

Jun 06, 2012 14:38 PM
rating: -1
 
jhardman

As a Ranger fan, I really enjoyed "Seasons
In Hell" by Mike Shropshire and I have it on my admittedly biased list.

Jun 06, 2012 14:10 PM
rating: 0
 
JPinPhilly

I'm reading "Juicing the Game" by Howard Bryant at the moment. Pretty good read on the entirety of the steroid era. There's a lot of stuff in there about the shrinking strike zone, the smaller ballparks, the depleted pitching staffs due to expansion, and the charge made by some that the stitching on the balls being used was tighter. He paints a pretty good picture of all of the forces that combined to create the offensive explosion of that era.

Jun 06, 2012 14:12 PM
rating: 0
 
BarryR

Three works of fiction that I think deserve mention:
1) "The Great American Novel", by Philip Roth -- The story of the downtrodden Rupert Mundys, a team forced to play all its games on the road during WWII because the owner sold their stadium as scrap metal. Told by a sportswriter named Word Smith, this is a wonderful book. Not a month goes by where I don't recall the triumphant bus ride of the Mundys returning from their annual exhibition game against the local insane asylum.
2) "The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Proprietor", by Robert Coover -- This story of an accountant who created not just a complex tabletop baseball game, but an entire league and players to populate it, is a brilliant work. For those of us who grew up with APBA and Strat-O-Matic, rolling dice over and over again, this book is special indeed. The league's existence comes from Waugh, and Waugh's existence revolves around the league.
3) "The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant", by Douglas Wallop. -- This is way out of print, and nowhere near the level of the other two, but it is the source for "Damn Yankees" which gave us the classic literary character of Joe Hardy. I mention it here because of a moment not included in the musical versions. Near the end of the book, Lola tells Joe Hardy not to trust the Devil, as he will never let the Senators win the pennant. When Joe asks why he wouldn't, Lola says "because he's a Yankee fan - who else do you think the Devil would root for?"

Jun 06, 2012 14:24 PM
rating: 4
 
iorg34

Absolutely agree. I haven't read the third book, but the top two are all-timers. "The Brothers K" is also in the pantheon. Honorable mention to "The Greatest Slump of All Time" and Al Stump's Ty Cobb perfidious Ty Cobb biography.

Jun 06, 2012 14:47 PM
rating: 1
 
JPinPhilly

It's not really a baseball book but Underworld by Don Delillo has some great underlying baseball stuff woven into it including the opening chapter which takes place at the Polo Grounds during the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" game. Jackie Gleason pukes. Good times.

Jun 06, 2012 14:56 PM
rating: 1
 
saigonsam

My favorite fiction baseball book never gets mentioned in these types of articles. "The Iowa Baseball Confederacy" by W.P. Kinsella (author of "Shoeless Joe").

Jun 06, 2012 19:17 PM
rating: 1
 
R.A.Wagman

Your timing, sir, is impecable - see below.

Jun 06, 2012 19:25 PM
rating: 0
 
saigonsam

I actually deleted the last sentence of my comment explaining that it may be considered a better book for young adults (I read it as a pre-teen, too)rather than for disillusioned old men.

Jun 06, 2012 20:46 PM
rating: 0
 
BarryR

As a sabermetrician, I would be remiss if I didn't mention a book remarkably few people have read -- "The Second Baseball Abstract" by Bill James. I found this book in an ad in a table top gaming newsletter - Bill had crated a free game to be included with all copies -- and I sent away for it. Many of you were not born yet and can't imagine an era where the public never saw home-road or lefty-righty splits. Bill got them by the simple act of sending a letter to teams asking for them. If that was all that was there it would have been special, but the writing was terrific. This book introduced the concepts of Park Factors, Range Factors, and contained the original Defensive Spectrum, a concept which astonished me when I read it.
The influence that book, and the more popular ones which followed it, had on my life, and, if I may say it,the lives of all of us who frequent this site, can't be understated.
I think I'm going to dig it out of the closet this weekend and read it again.

Jun 06, 2012 14:59 PM
rating: 1
 
whanson

There is an audio version of "Glory of Their Times" available that is the original interviews. Really great!

Jun 06, 2012 19:10 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

Always hilarious to read Americans with an inferiority complex. Favourite, indeed! In addition to the chap who pointed to the Roth and Coover books, I should also mention The Iowa Baseball Confederacy by W.P. Kinsella. I read it first as a preteen and it sparked in me a feel for the romanticism of baseball that has yet to leave me.
That said, when I re-read the book in my 20's, I realized that type writing wasn't so great. Kinsella's short story collection about the Hobemma reserve are fantastic, but his baseball stuff, including Shoeless Joe (aka Field of Dreams) is full of kitsch. But the effect will not leave me.

Jun 06, 2012 19:24 PM
rating: 2
 
saigonsam

I agree. It is one of the few books that really has stuck with me over the years. I read it many times since picking it up when I was eleven, but not so much after becoming an adult.

Jun 06, 2012 20:55 PM
rating: 0
 
bumphadley

Anyone other than me read "Prophet of the Sandlots" by Mark Weingarden? About Phillies scout Tony Lucadello. Not the best writing in the world, but great story. Recommended.

Jun 06, 2012 20:30 PM
rating: 0
 
krissbeth

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for The Chosen, which is more about religion and fathers, but has some very nice baseball set pieces, including its opening.

Jun 06, 2012 22:34 PM
rating: 0
 
tannerg

I just finished "One Shot at Forever." Couldn't put it down -- read it cover to cover in one sitting. Maybe the best book I've ever read. Seriously.

Jun 10, 2012 17:44 PM
rating: 0
 
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