PDA

View Full Version : The best baseball books


Tannerfan
02-07-2012, 04:39 PM
Last night my wife and I went out to dinner with a group of friends. We talked about the Super Bowl, but then the conversation turned to everyone saying what their favorite sport was. I of course said baseball, and the woman next to me said she enjoyed it but found it a little boring. I told her that once you understand the nuances of the game it is very dramatic and exciting. I used game six of this past World Series as an example.
Long story short, she is a very literary person and asked me to reccomond at least three books about baseball.
I've thought of Moneyball and Roger Kahn's The Boys of Summer. I know I can count on all of you to help me come up with a third, and probably a better one and two as well.
Help me out WSI'ers. I want to convert her from basketball to baseball!

Golden Sox
02-07-2012, 05:01 PM
1) Bums by Peter Golenbock. The best book on the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers. 2) Veeck As In Veeck by Bill Veeck. Although I basically had no use for him when he owned the White Sox the second time around, you can't go wrong with his first book.

mrfourni
02-07-2012, 05:01 PM
Three nights in August is pretty good, and I'm not even a big Bissinger fan

Fenway
02-07-2012, 05:03 PM
Last night my wife and I went out to dinner with a group of friends. We talked about the Super Bowl, but then the conversation turned to everyone saying what their favorite sport was. I of course said baseball, and the woman next to me said she enjoyed it but found it a little boring. I told her that once you understand the nuances of the game it is very dramatic and exciting. I used game six of this past World Series as an example.
Long story short, she is a very literary person and asked me to reccomond at least three books about baseball.
I've thought of Moneyball and Roger Kahn's The Boys of Summer. I know I can count on all of you to help me come up with a third, and probably a better one and two as well.
Help me out WSI'ers. I want to convert her from basketball to baseball!

David Halberstam should pass her literary test.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=halberstam/070613
http://swingleydev.com/blog/wp-content/summer_of_49.jpg

MeteorsSox4367
02-07-2012, 05:25 PM
Ball Four. I reread it every summer and some of my nerdy friends and I can quote passages of the book.

Love baseball, love the inside nature of the book. Possibly my favorite book.

delben91
02-07-2012, 05:28 PM
David Halberstam should pass her literary test.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=halberstam/070613
http://swingleydev.com/blog/wp-content/summer_of_49.jpg

Halberstam's work is excellent, I second this.

Foulke You
02-07-2012, 05:31 PM
I'm in the process of reading "Cobb" by Al Stump. It is one of the more captivating baseball books I've read in quite some time. When you read this book, you begin to understand what made Ty Cobb tick and how he became the jerk history remembers him as. You do not need to be a fan of the game to find this book interesting. It's Ty Cobb the person that takes center stage in this biography and not just his awe inspiring baseball career.

SephClone89
02-07-2012, 05:36 PM
Roger Angell's "The Summer Game." Just...wow.

KenBerryGrab
02-07-2012, 05:41 PM
Great nonfiction choices. Suggest "The Natural." If she's seen the movie, she'll be shocked that the novel is a tragedy.

Oblong
02-07-2012, 07:45 PM
Ball Four. I reread it every summer and some of my nerdy friends and I can quote passages of the book.

Love baseball, love the inside nature of the book. Possibly my favorite book.

Was just going to suggest this. Talked about today with a friend. I"ve not yet read it this off season and I do every year. Probably because of the warm weather we're having.

What makes it a great book is Bouton's observational skills with regard to little details and how to write about them to bring out the humor. He took a bunch of regular guys and made them all out to be characters. I bet any group of 20 guys at that age and at that time would be just as funny, but it takes true talent to be able to capture and express it the way Bouton did. I'd have thought Hunter S. Thompson wrote it.

Viva Medias B's
02-07-2012, 10:23 PM
Lost Ballparks

That is a coffee table book that came out in 1992, and it has great retrospectives of ballparks that had been torn down by that time.

Southsider101
02-07-2012, 10:29 PM
1. Eight Men Out, by Eliot Asinof The best book written
about the 1919 Black Sox.

2. The Old Ball Game, by Frank Deford. The story
of John McGraw, Christy Mathewson and the
pre-WW1 deadball era.

3. You Gotta Have Wa, by Robert Whiting. An
excellent introduction to Japanese baseball and
Americans who have played there.

Lip Man 1
02-07-2012, 11:07 PM
The Boys Of Summer
Ball Four
Safe By A Mile
Making Airwaves
The Long Season
The Pennant Chase
Durocher
Koufax

and any and all books that even mention the White Sox in passing. :D:

Lip

palehosepub
02-08-2012, 11:08 AM
Baseball Palace of the World, The Last Year of Comiskey Park - Douglas Bukowski- one of my very favorite Sox books, a must read if you grew up loving old Comiskey Park, I re- read it every couple of years just to experience those memories again. But you have to be a WHite Sox fan to really appreciate it....

Ball Four - great insight, great read, lots of laughs

Glory of their Times - I love the old timers oral histories, the dialogue, Ritter is the author.

Eight Men Out - reads like a spy thriller.

Cobb - The most fascinating baseball biography written (Stump)

Veeck as in Wreck - if you love the inside business of baseball

GoGoCrede
02-08-2012, 11:33 AM
The Boys of Summer - classic

Opening Day - story of Jackie Robinson's first year in the majors.

I Had A Hammer - Hank Aaron's autobiography

Blockade Billy - I haven't read this one yet, but it's by Stephen King and looks really good.

gobears1987
02-08-2012, 11:43 AM
The Teammates

Fenway
02-08-2012, 12:01 PM
The Teammates

In many ways the sequel to Summer of 49.

The Red Sox actually have replaced the Ted Williams statue at Fenway with this.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5265/5576284883_c9ff9114b5_z.jpg

Ted's statue was moved to the spring training complex in Ft. Myers.

http://www.nbc-2.com/story/16651176/ted-williams-statute-relocated-to-jetblue-park

soxfanatlanta
02-08-2012, 01:03 PM
I really enjoyed Are We Winning?: Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball by Will Leitch. The passage about Steve Bartman was worth the price of the book alone.

Wsoxmike59
02-08-2012, 04:14 PM
My favorite baseball books, that I've read through the years.

1) Bums
2) Dynasty
3) Summer of '49
4) Ball Four
5) Eight Men Out
6) Durocher - Nice Guys Finish Last
7) Sox: From Lane to Fane and Zisk to Fisk
8) Minnie and the Mick
9) Through Hope and Despair
10) The Glory Of Their Times

In my queue for this season are Cobb by Al Stump and The Rocket That Fell To Earth by Jeff Pearlman

GoGoCrede
02-08-2012, 04:45 PM
I forgot Eight Men Out, for shame. I would also suggest Sox and the City. It's a light read, but I think it captures well the perspective of an average (well, until he became relatively well-known, and even then he's still pretty down-to-earth) Sox fan who's had the opportunity to witness some really pivotal events in Sox history. It's also how I heard about WSI.

My favorite baseball books, that I've read through the years.

1) Bums
2) Dynasty
3) Summer of '49
4) Ball Four
5) Eight Men Out
6) Durocher - Nice Guys Finish Last
7) Sox: From Lane to Fane and Zisk to Fisk
8) Minnie and the Mick
9) Through Hope and Despair
10) The Glory Of Their Times

In my queue for this season are Cobb by Al Stump and The Rocket That Fell To Earth by Jeff Pearlman

This one sounds good. I went to Amazon and discovered one of the editorial reviews spells it "Minosa." Boo.

chicagowhitesox1
02-08-2012, 06:37 PM
I'm in the process of reading "Cobb" by Al Stump. It is one of the more captivating baseball books I've read in quite some time. When you read this book, you begin to understand what made Ty Cobb tick and how he became the jerk history remembers him as. You do not need to be a fan of the game to find this book interesting. It's Ty Cobb the person that takes center stage in this biography and not just his awe inspiring baseball career.


I think Al Stump really hurt Cobb's reputation. Cobb wasnt the racist bitter man Stump made him out to be and that reputation always stuck with Cobb.

That book was released during a turbulent time in American history and alot of the younger genaration who read that book put alot of undue bias towards Cobb and it just stuck with Cobb through the genarations. I'm not saying Cobb was some great guy but all these myths you hear about Cobb are only half true. I think in that book Stump wrote that Cobb and Ted Williams hated each other which even Williams said wasnt true.

Cobb was just as racist as anyone in those days but Cobb always gets the worst reputation. If Cobb was that racist I doubt he woulda said Willie Mays was the only player nowdays he would pay to watch. Or the fact he built a hospital in his hometown for blacks and made sure that it had black docters. He hired a black man too take care of his property and let him and his family live there for free and over time he was for integration of blacks in the major leagues.

Cobb wasnt hated by teammates like Stump claims either. This comes from when Cobb first came up he had a chip on his shoulder probaly from his mother accidently killing his father and of course when Cobb got his rookie hazings from Sam Crawford and his gang, Cobb just took it the wrong way. When the league suspended Cobb for beating up a heckler the whole entire team went on strike. I doubt a team would do that if they hated him that much. Later in Cobbs career he got a bad rep from pitchers when he was managing and thats because he did take more time teaching hitters and somewhat neglected his pitchers. Theres alot more I can say but that Al Stump was a liar who went for afast buck off Cobbs name.

eastchicagosoxfan
02-08-2012, 10:53 PM
I think Al Stump really hurt Cobb's reputation. Cobb wasnt the racist bitter man Stump made him out to be and that reputation always stuck with Cobb.

That book was released during a turbulent time in American history and alot of the younger genaration who read that book put alot of undue bias towards Cobb and it just stuck with Cobb through the genarations. I'm not saying Cobb was some great guy but all these myths you hear about Cobb are only half true. I think in that book Stump wrote that Cobb and Ted Williams hated each other which even Williams said wasnt true.

Cobb was just as racist as anyone in those days but Cobb always gets the worst reputation. If Cobb was that racist I doubt he woulda said Willie Mays was the only player nowdays he would pay to watch. Or the fact he built a hospital in his hometown for blacks and made sure that it had black docters. He hired a black man too take care of his property and let him and his family live there for free and over time he was for integration of blacks in the major leagues.

Cobb wasnt hated by teammates like Stump claims either. This comes from when Cobb first came up he had a chip on his shoulder probaly from his mother accidently killing his father and of course when Cobb got his rookie hazings from Sam Crawford and his gang, Cobb just took it the wrong way. When the league suspended Cobb for beating up a heckler the whole entire team went on strike. I doubt a team would do that if they hated him that much. Later in Cobbs career he got a bad rep from pitchers when he was managing and thats because he did take more time teaching hitters and somewhat neglected his pitchers. Theres alot more I can say but that Al Stump was a liar who went for afast buck off Cobbs name.
I srcond this. Cobb was a rotten human being when he was a young man. He was a drug-addicted old man when Stump collaborated with him. In between Cobb, like part of the nation, tried to reconcile his racism with reality. There's no moment of epiphany on the part of Cobb. No Pee Wee Reese moment either. Cobb's actions as young man tell a story. His actions as an older man also tell a story.

On an aside, Tris Speaker was a well known member of the klan. He also worked one-on-one with Larry Doby to teach Doby how to play center field.

I like a lot of the books mentioned. I'll add one book.
Ty and the Babe by Mike Stanton.

chicagowhitesox1
02-09-2012, 12:58 AM
I srcond this. Cobb was a rotten human being when he was a young man. He was a drug-addicted old man when Stump collaborated with him. In between Cobb, like part of the nation, tried to reconcile his racism with reality. There's no moment of epiphany on the part of Cobb. No Pee Wee Reese moment either. Cobb's actions as young man tell a story. His actions as an older man also tell a story.

On an aside, Tris Speaker was a well known member of the klan. He also worked one-on-one with Larry Doby to teach Doby how to play center field.

I like a lot of the books mentioned. I'll add one book.
Ty and the Babe by Mike Stanton.

I'm gonna try to read that book. I've always found it interesting that in every photo i've seen Ruth and Cobb together in, Cobb always looks happy to be in the picture with him.

TDog
02-09-2012, 01:32 AM
Ball Four is probably the best baseball nonfiction baseball book I've every read. It is probably the most important, if such a thing can be attached to a baseball book. I believe it was the only book named by The New York Times on its list of most important books of the 20th century. Jim Bouton finished the century with his Final Pitch edition, which in hardcover, is a very nice looking book. Bouton's teammates pretty much loathe him, but he wrote the ultimate insider baseball book despite being the ultimate baseball outsider.

Roger Angell's New Yorker pieces that were compiled into books certainly comprise excellent journalism, and there are some good biographies, although they are far outnumbered by the really bad ones. And I've read a lot of very good and very bad baseball books; Fiction does a much better job at distilling what makes the game important and even special. Shoeless Joe, though, may be a bit too mystical for people with no interest in baseball to get. The Natural, which, not so different from Babe Ruth's swing, is allegorically based on what Bernard Malamud believed true of Shoeless Joe Jackson, is an excellent tragedy.

My favorite baseball novel is Hoopla by Harry Stein, which is told in alternating narration by a fictitious Hearst sportswriter who covered the 1919 World Series and Buck Weaver. It is about baseball, but it also is very much about America in the early 20th century.

The best baseball novel I have ever read that has nothing to do with the 1919 White Sox, is Hanging Curve by Troy Soos, an author of a baseball mystery series. His other books are simply niche mysteries with a baseball theme, just as writers write mysteries with themes of other areas of great interest (cooking, antique collecting, chocolate etc.) Hanging Curve is about race relations in the 1920s, and the title refers to a lynching.

The baseball novel I had the most fun with was The Great American Novel by Phillip Roth, about a fictional World War II baseball team that plays all its games on the road.

eastchicagosoxfan
02-09-2012, 08:07 AM
I'm gonna try to read that book. I've always found it interesting that in every photo i've seen Ruth and Cobb together in, Cobb always looks happy to be in the picture with him.
Cobb and Ruth had a contemptuous relationship for several years. It took Ruth several years to finally win Cobb's begrudging respect. Ruth single-handedly destroyed the game that Cobb loved and dominated. The book chronicles their careers and their rivavlry, which was downright brutal when Cobb managed the Tigers. Eventually, the two did become friends. Walter Johnson helped the friendship along by setting up both (unknowingly to either) to share a cab with him. In 1940, Cobb challenged Ruth to a golf game. The book covers their golf matches, as well as the preperation each player put into it, in great detail. Cobb's cunning and guile, versus Ruth's power.

Railsplitter
02-09-2012, 10:22 AM
Two I like but haven't seen mentioned: Robert Creamer's Baseball in '41 and Donald Honig's Baseball America: The Heroes of the Game and the Glory of Thier Times.

The former makes the case for 1941 being the best baseball season ever weaving stories of DiMaggio's hitting streak Williams' quest for .400 and season long duel between the Cardinals and Dodgers for the National League crown, interwoven with Creamer's reminisences of the the summer he turned 19 and the war looming in the background.

The latter's title basically says it all, but I like the way Honig tells the story.

If you don't have a card for your local public library, get one, because that's only way you'll be able to find these wondeful books.

TDog
02-09-2012, 11:22 AM
Two I like but haven't seen mentioned: Robert Creamer's Baseball in '41 and Donald Honig's Baseball America: The Heroes of the Game and the Glory of Thier Times.

The former makes the case for 1941 being the best baseball season ever weaving stories of DiMaggio's hitting streak Williams' quest for .400 and season long duel between the Cardinals and Dodgers for the National League crown, interwoven with Creamer's reminisences of the the summer he turned 19 and the war looming in the background.

The latter's title basically says it all, but I like the way Honig tells the story.

If you don't have a card for your local public library, get one, because that's only way you'll be able to find these wondeful books.

I've read all three books, although I believe the Glory of their Times was written by Lawrence Ritter. You might have an easier time finding them in Amazon than at your public library.

ohiosoxfan
02-09-2012, 11:40 AM
Roger Angell's "The Summer Game." Just...wow.


I can't agree more. . . Angell is such a great writer though not as well known as Roger Kahn and others. This book made me feel like I was sitting in the ballpark under the warm sun watching the best sport of all. Amazing.

Madvora
02-09-2012, 12:11 PM
I forgot Eight Men Out, for shame. I would also suggest Sox and the City. It's a light read, but I think it captures well the perspective of an average (well, until he became relatively well-known, and even then he's still pretty down-to-earth) Sox fan who's had the opportunity to witness some really pivotal events in Sox history. It's also how I heard about WSI.



This one sounds good. I went to Amazon and discovered one of the editorial reviews spells it "Minosa." Boo.
Yeah I read Minnie and The Mick. Very good history of the Sox/Yankees rivalry back then that we don't get to experience anymore.

chicagowhitesox1
02-09-2012, 02:48 PM
Two I like but haven't seen mentioned: Robert Creamer's Baseball in '41 and Donald Honig's Baseball America: The Heroes of the Game and the Glory of Thier Times.

The former makes the case for 1941 being the best baseball season ever weaving stories of DiMaggio's hitting streak Williams' quest for .400 and season long duel between the Cardinals and Dodgers for the National League crown, interwoven with Creamer's reminisences of the the summer he turned 19 and the war looming in the background.

The latter's title basically says it all, but I like the way Honig tells the story.

If you don't have a card for your local public library, get one, because that's only way you'll be able to find these wondeful books.

I never read Baseball in 41 so i'm gonna check that one out but The Glory of Thier Times is probaly my favorite baseball book written.

Foulke You
02-09-2012, 03:01 PM
I think Al Stump really hurt Cobb's reputation. Cobb wasnt the racist bitter man Stump made him out to be and that reputation always stuck with Cobb.

That book was released during a turbulent time in American history and alot of the younger genaration who read that book put alot of undue bias towards Cobb and it just stuck with Cobb through the genarations. I'm not saying Cobb was some great guy but all these myths you hear about Cobb are only half true. I think in that book Stump wrote that Cobb and Ted Williams hated each other which even Williams said wasnt true.

Cobb was just as racist as anyone in those days but Cobb always gets the worst reputation. If Cobb was that racist I doubt he woulda said Willie Mays was the only player nowdays he would pay to watch. Or the fact he built a hospital in his hometown for blacks and made sure that it had black docters. He hired a black man too take care of his property and let him and his family live there for free and over time he was for integration of blacks in the major leagues.

Cobb wasnt hated by teammates like Stump claims either. This comes from when Cobb first came up he had a chip on his shoulder probaly from his mother accidently killing his father and of course when Cobb got his rookie hazings from Sam Crawford and his gang, Cobb just took it the wrong way. When the league suspended Cobb for beating up a heckler the whole entire team went on strike. I doubt a team would do that if they hated him that much. Later in Cobbs career he got a bad rep from pitchers when he was managing and thats because he did take more time teaching hitters and somewhat neglected his pitchers. Theres alot more I can say but that Al Stump was a liar who went for afast buck off Cobbs name.
I'm not finished with the book yet but I disagree on many of your points based on what I've read. The first one is about Stump supposedly portraying some sort of myth about his friendship with Ted Williams. In the book, Stump says that Williams and Cobb were friends. He also went on to say that they frequently talked baseball together and that Williams picked his brain on hitting all the time. What he did say was that Cobb and Williams had a big argument once about Rogers Hornsby (whom Cobb didn't care for) and it had an effect on their friendship and the two didn't speak as much after that incident. Stump also mentions Cobb's charity donations which he often did anonymously but at the same time he mentions his intense cheapness about certain things. He was a millionaire but decided to sue the power company over a $16 error in his bill. The power company shut off his electricity and Cobb left it off rather than pay the bill. Stump also mentions that Cobb worked alongside black workers on his father's farm and even answered to a black supervisor.

My interpretation of the book is that Stump is not taking sides but merely telling the story of Cobb's life from beginning to its lonely end. Cobb was a tremendously talented, intense, and intelligent man but socially, he was flawed. The death of his father was a huge turning point in his life. I detect no bias in the book as a lot of his source material was from Ty Cobb himself many times with direct quotes attributed. Stump lived with him (and helped take care of him) and was one of Cobb's few close friends at the end of his life. If you don't think that Cobb alienated people in the game when he played, how do you explain only three people associated with baseball showing up for his funeral? You are certainly entitled to your opinion on the book but so far, I think it is a fascinating look at one of the best baseball players to ever play the game.

chicagowhitesox1
02-09-2012, 05:42 PM
I'm not finished with the book yet but I disagree on many of your points based on what I've read. The first one is about Stump supposedly portraying some sort of myth about his friendship with Ted Williams. In the book, Stump says that Williams and Cobb were friends. He also went on to say that they frequently talked baseball together and that Williams picked his brain on hitting all the time. What he did say was that Cobb and Williams had a big argument once about Rogers Hornsby (whom Cobb didn't care for) and it had an effect on their friendship and the two didn't speak as much after that incident. Stump also mentions Cobb's charity donations which he often did anonymously but at the same time he mentions his intense cheapness about certain things. He was a millionaire but decided to sue the power company over a $16 error in his bill. The power company shut off his electricity and Cobb left it off rather than pay the bill. Stump also mentions that Cobb worked alongside black workers on his father's farm and even answered to a black supervisor.

My interpretation of the book is that Stump is not taking sides but merely telling the story of Cobb's life from beginning to its lonely end. Cobb was a tremendously talented, intense, and intelligent man but socially, he was flawed. The death of his father was a huge turning point in his life. I detect no bias in the book as a lot of his source material was from Ty Cobb himself many times with direct quotes attributed. Stump lived with him (and helped take care of him) and was one of Cobb's few close friends at the end of his life. If you don't think that Cobb alienated people in the game when he played, how do you explain only three people associated with baseball showing up for his funeral? You are certainly entitled to your opinion on the book but so far, I think it is a fascinating look at one of the best baseball players to ever play the game.


It's a good baseball book and i'll be honest I havent read it in a long time and it is true Cobb and Stump were friends but Al Stump used Ty Cobb the same way Bill Surface did with Roger Hornsby. Cobbs family wouldnt even speak to Stump after that book especially after the 1994 book. When the movie came out with Tommy Lee Jones that built up alot more bitterness.

The book is true in only halfs to sell more copies. For example you mentioned only three baseball players attended his funeral and of course that makes Cobb sound even more hated. The players who attended were Ray Schalk, Nap Rucker and Mickey Cochrane and the family intended having a large public funeral and some of the pall bearer's were gonna be Casey Stengal and Douglas MacArthur but they changed thier minds and asked that it be private only. Thats why only three ball players attended.

I dont mean to sound critical because it really is a great book and I enjoyed it but i've learned alot about Cobb through the years and the funeral story always kinda stumped me until I found out why just 3 players attended. Alot of that also was because most of Cobbs teammates were either dead or just couldnt afford to attend and of course he did alienate more than a few players too.

Stumps book is one of the best Cobb books written but think Charles Alexander had the best one. He used quotes from Cobb during his playing days and not from the 80 year old Cobb on his last breath.

vinny
03-08-2012, 09:05 AM
Through a friend, I got my hands on an advance copy of Trading Manny by freelance SI contributor Jim Gullo. It's basically the story of he and with his 8-year old son became disillusioned with baseball in the aftermath of the steroid scandal, and Gullo's efforts to find answers and explanations to the questions both he and his son have so that they can rediscover their love for the game.

It's a quick read; I started yesterday and am half-way through. It's supposed to be released next week.

SI1020
03-08-2012, 09:28 AM
1. Eight Men Out, by Eliot Asinof The best book written
about the 1919 Black Sox.

2. The Old Ball Game, by Frank Deford. The story
of John McGraw, Christy Mathewson and the
pre-WW1 deadball era.

3. You Gotta Have Wa, by Robert Whiting. An
excellent introduction to Japanese baseball and
Americans who have played there. I feel like banging my head against the wall. We are all indebted to Asninof, and indeed for years I agreed with you. Not anymore. This is by far the best book ever written about the Black Sox. I've been touting this book here for a long time, but think it just may be time to give it up.

http://www.amazon.com/Burying-Black-Sox-Baseballs-Succeeded/dp/1574889729

wilburaga
03-08-2012, 02:41 PM
For my (gulp) 60th birthday last week, my daughters got me this.

http://www.simplypersonalized.com/newspaper-gifts/sports-books/new-york-times-baseball-books/chicago-white-sox-commemorative-book/

It's a history of the Sox as seen through the New York Times, with full page original shots of the Times' coverage of the Sox in their milestone moments. It's a joy to go through these pages and relive the moments I experienced and immerse myself in the coverage of events that preceded me. I may be derided as a New York snot, but IMHO the Times' sportswriters have always been a clear step above.