With the postseason underway, and I nearly finished with The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnanski, I got to thinking about my favorite baseball books. I suspect that The Baseball 100 will jump toward the top–if not the top–of the list. But what are my favorites right now? My list of books I’ve read since 1996 has quite a few baseball-related books on it. Here is my selection of the best ones, in my opinion:
- Ball Four by Jim Bouton. A classic in the genre, and one that set the stage for the modern baseball tell-all.
- Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville: A Lifelong Passion in Baseball by Stephen Jay Gould. Gould is best known for his books and essays on paleontology and evolution in Natural History magazine. But he was a huge baseball fan, and I love the way he thinks about the game in these essays.
- Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty by Charles Leerhsen. Everything I knew, or thought I knew, about Ty Cobb was dispelled by this book. I read it in the offseason. Always a good time to read baseball in order to make it a year-round sport.
- Yogi: A Life Behind the Mask by Jon Pessah. The book made me love Yogi even more.
- Casey Stengel by Marty Appel. Possibly the most remarkable career in baseball ever.
- Red Smith: On Baseball by Red Smith. Reading this book cemented the idea that when I grow up, I want to be a baseball writer. Unfortunately, I read this book when I was 46 years old. Fortunately, I still haven’t grown up.
- Great Baseball Writing: Sports Illustrated 1954-2004 edited by Rob Fleder. An absolutely remarkable collection of baseball writing.
- Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella. The first time I’d read this book was in the aftermath of 9/11. I’d seen Field of Dreams many times before I read this book. I love Field of Dreams but this book was far and away the best thing about baseball I’d ever read.
That all said, I am enjoying The Baseball 100 so much that I suspect it will end up as #2, possibly even #1 on the list by the time that I finish.
Of course, for as many baseball books I’ve read, there are countless I have yet to read. Some that I want to read, or have been wanting to read for some time include:
- The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created by Jane Leavy
- Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin
- The Summer Game by Roger Angell
- The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
- Bill James’ Historical Baseball Abstract by Bill James
And, as always, I am open to suggestions.
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