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Book Suggestions > All-Time Best Baseball Books

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message 1: by Gerard (new)

Gerard (gkwilecki) What do you consider the all time best baseball books that every true baseball fans should have on their shelves? I am working to build my library of baseball books.


message 2: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments I would start with " THE GLORY OF THEIR TIMES " BY Lawrence Ritter, anything David Halberstam, or Mike Sowell, " EIGHT MEN OUT ", maybe " RED SOX CENTURY " by Glenn Stout, " THE KID " by Ben Bradlee Jr.," SHOELESS JOE", "THE NATURAL". I`ll think of more after another cup of coffee, but there`s a start. Also, if you have a favorite team or situation or player, let us know. There are many opinions here.
Mike Linn


message 3: by Wayne (new)

Wayne Baker In response to Gerard, I only read Michael's post. I would add any of the collected New Yorker pieces (Summer Game, Season Ticket, Late Innings, Five Seasons, etc) by Roger Angell...the best baseball writer ever, and it is not even close. His election last year to writers' wing of HOF was long overdue. Also I'd suggest several Bill James books (Guide to Baseball Managers, the Bill James New Historical Baseball Abstract, the Neyer-James Guide to Pitchers), and Neyer (Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends and Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders). You might also consider any of the four Fireside Books of Baseball (ed. Charles Einstein) or the two Armchair Books of Baseball (ed. John Thorn).


message 4: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17648 comments I would suggest the following in addition to Mike's books.
1. Summer of 1949 by Halberstam
2.The Era 1947-1957 by Roger Kahn
3. Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
4. The Teammates by Halberstam
5.56 by Kostya Kennedy about Dimaggios's streak and a lot more.
6. Ty Cobb by Al Stump(great read but criticized justly because Stump was a fraud and may have fabricated many stories.


message 5: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments I answered BEFORE coffee
Mike Linn
I listed anything Halberstam & Sowell, but all combined, Gerard has a good starting list


message 6: by Wayne (new)

Wayne Baker Harold wrote: "I would suggest the following in addition to Mike's books.
1. Summer of 1949 by Halberstam
2.The Era 1947-1957 by Roger Kahn
3. Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
4. The Teammates by Halberstam
5.56 by K..."


This is to Harold: I am not aware of all the particulars (please do some additional research to see if I am correct here or not), but it is my understanding that Stump, who collaborated with Cobb on Cobb's My Life in Baseball, the True Record, decided years later to take a lot the material he had that Cobb would not let him use, to generate the 1994 Ty Cobb book. As a reference point, try to find and read Stump's late 1950s or early 1960s article for the defunct TRUE, THE MAN'S MAGAZINE. In the article, titled, I think, Ty Cobb's Wild Struggle to Live (apologies if I got the title incorrect), Stump recounts how crazy, stubborn, etc. Cobb was while Stump did the interviewing of him for the True Record bio. The Stump article in True was published in several baseball anthologies edited by Thorn and maybe others, I think. My memory of reading many years ago both Stump-authored Cobb is that Stump decided baseball fans and historians were entitled to read accurate accounts of Cobb with all his many flaws revealed. I did not get the impression that Stump was fabricating.
Another aside, note I recommended Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends. In it, Neyer does thorough research to generally disprove the published accounts of many baseball stories, i.e., Joe Morgan accounts of games against Pirates, Stargell, etc. He shows how checks of Retrosheet and other sources proves anecdotes were misremembered, combined, etc. Neyer does a fine job showing from surviving audio tapes how Ritter made Glory of Their Times a great book by using editing, rewriting, etc. Note a side by side comparison Neyer prints of a Ritter interview and the way Ritter rewrote and edited it. Did Ritter take some liberties? You decide. can tell you from YEARS of experience in the news business that unless you see the quote or interview on live unedited TV or hear it on live radio, most great writers and reporters do such editing of interviewees, esp. those who are not everyday public figures. Why? To make their articles tighter, and to not make an interviewee look like a fool if he or she mangled the language. Example: Why quote someone's double negative when it can be "fixed" without changing the most important things: accuracy and context? The days of quoting the late Robert Clemente as saying "I got a heet," another example, should be long past. Write it as he got a hit and be done with it.
Further, I suggest we all take with a grain of salt bios of baseball players and figures from approximately 1950s and backwards. Until Dick Young decided reporters should go to the clubhouse and actually interview players and managers after and before the games (and later, of course, Jim Bouton and then the NY writers known as the chipmunks), a lot of what was written in books and in daily news reports glossed over all the warts and foibles of the players, managers, and owners. Example: In contemporary baseball reportage, how much was there of Babe Ruth's faults? Very little. How much prior to 1945 of baseball's tacit refusal to let blacks play? Very little.
None of this should lessen our enjoyment of great baseball writing. We should just read it with our eyes wide open and analytical abilities on full alert.


message 7: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17648 comments It really wasn't until the late 40's when newspapers and magazines started to pay the reporters for hotel, food, and transportation that they began to get away from the leash of the owners and clubs. That's when real reporting began. BUT Roger Kahn can't be accused of it in his 1993 account of The Era.
Also Wayne, I have to disagree with you about the 94 Cobb book. I was shocked to hear about the scandal and criticism of the book by so many fans and writers on Amazon. I then emailed JOHN Thorn to ask him about it. I can't quote exactly because the email was destroyed after hackers got into my account 3 years ago, but he agreed that the book was unreliable. We shall all see hopefully with the new Charles Leerhrsen book out in May which promises to destroy many of Stump's accounts as per Leerhsen's facebook post to me.


message 8: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17648 comments Wayne, I'm curious why you have no reviews on your profile or books read. I am in no way suggesting anything. You write very well so I'm surprised.
PS The Pitch that Killed by Mike Sowell is outstanding and every fan should read it.
I will take you up on Neyer's book and get it-thanks


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Wayne is exactly right on the 'grain of salt' for most things written before what I term the modern era, which began with Jim Brosnan's The Long Season. Everything before that was white-washed bubble gum written on a 10-year-old's level.

It is hard to disagree with any of the books mentioned so far--you can't go wrong with any of them.

For the ultimate baseball book list, I would recommend The Long Season and Ball Four, just for the historical view of baseball writings.

I think Leigh Montville's Ted Williams book is one of the best baseball biographies I have ever read. The Babe Ruth book in the early 1970s by Robert Creamer is the definitive book on the Babe.

Just a fun book for anyone who remembers the '50s and '60s that you don't hear much about anymore is The Great American Baseball Card Flipping and Trading Book, written in the early '70s.

Men At Work by George Will and Moneyball are worth having on a bookshelf.

Another book I recommend is Echoing Green about the 1951 Giants/telescope/Shot Heard Round the World. It was excellently researched and well written.


message 10: by Wayne (new)

Wayne Baker This to Harold:

I signed up for this group a few months ago, and the comments on the Cobb book just got to me enough that I wrote what you saw. I suggest you read the Stump piece for True, then skim My Life in Baseball and then Stump's Ty Cobb. After that you may still have your opinion, and I have mine, and we will agree to disagree. I just think, whatever its flaws, Stump book fleshed out Cobb far better than the authorized bio he wrote. That said, I have not read any other books about Cobb.
So because what you read above was my first post, hence no reviews from me of any books. Just FYI to all reading, I would be reluctant to offer any review of books I read years ago. Memory fades with distance. Speaking of Distance, that is the title of a great, great Roger Angell piece on Bob Gibson written about five years after Gibson retired. Those too young to remember, visit YouTube, search for Game 1 of the 1968 World Series and watch Gibson strike out 17 Tigers. Complete NBC broadcast, but in black and white sted of color it was shown with live.
I will gladly add books to the list here that I think are worth reading.
Some new suggestions:
Juicing The Game by Harold Bryant about the steroids era and its cover up
The Best of Baseball Digest, J. Kuenster, ed, great pieces from that magazine
The Bad Guys Won, Pearlman, on 86 Mets
Any of the oral histories by Donald Honig are excellent: Baseball When the Grass was Real; Baseball Between the Lines; the Man in the Dugout, etc
A good closeup look at the games within a game, from the 1980s, Nine Innings, Okrent, on an Orioles-Brewers game from 1982 or 1983.
Also, a book by Thorn, very well done even though I think he intended it for teenage readers: Baseball's Ten Greatest Games. In it, you go to each of these games with him.
And an article by the aforementioned above Roger Angell, which I believe was titled THE WEB OF THE GAME. He sits in the stands with Smoky Joe Wood (!) the star of 1912 Red Sox team and former coach at Yale as they watch Ron Darling (Yale) and Frank Viola (St. John's) go mano a mano in an NCAA Tournament game played in New Haven.
Three books by a younger Thomas Boswell, the sports columnist for The Washington Post: Why Time Begins on Opening Day; How Life Imitates the World Series; and Cracking the Show. As you read those, remember, some of that writing was done ON DEADLINE. Nothing is tougher -- and I mean nothing -- than having to write about an important game in any sport when you deadline is looming. The greatest beat and wire service writers do it by doing what is called "running" -- you write what you have after three innings, six innings, etc. and then top it, sometimes with quotes, sometimes without, within minutes of the end of the game.
Not books, by urge serious fans of baseball to follow Buster Olney and Jayson Stark on ESPN web site (you have to pay $20 a year for access) and Ken Rosenthal/Rob Neyer/John Paul Morosi on Fox Sports Web site, and Tom Verducci and Joe Sheehan in Sports Illustrated and on the SI Web site. Verducci also wrote a great book with Torre, The Yankees Years, and put out a collection of his best SI pieces titled, I think, The Best of Tom Verducci. Cannot check accuracy of titles I site because we are moving soon and my books are in boxes, to be pulled out next month.


message 11: by Doubledf99.99 (new)

Doubledf99.99 | 1330 comments Wayne wrote: "This to Harold:

I signed up for this group a few months ago, and the comments on the Cobb book just got to me enough that I wrote what you saw. I suggest you read the Stump piece for True, then sk..."

Nice piece and recommendations..
Since I'm a Cardinal fan, I watch the Gibson game every year just before the start of the season.. Boy, was he intense that game..


message 12: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments I was sitting just beyond third base, about 18 rows back, with 54,691 others watching one of the gutsiest , intense, & thrilling pitching performances ever. I had gotten out of the Army around Labor Day, and my entire family, I guess grateful I was still breathing, presented me with tickets, transportation & lodging to an amazing series. I was just past my 21st birthday. Every time I see that game, I still get goose bumps.
Mike Linn


message 13: by Doubledf99.99 (new)

Doubledf99.99 | 1330 comments Boy, that must of been something to see... glad you got back safe as well..


message 14: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments Yeah, me too, although if you remember correctly, Detroit in 1968 was also a war zone, never left the hotel except to & from the ballpark
Mike Linn


message 15: by Doubledf99.99 (new)

Doubledf99.99 | 1330 comments Yep, I rember that wild crazy summer quite well. If you haven't read The Summer of 68, I highly recommend it.

Summer of '68: The Season That Changed Baseball—and America—Forever
Summer of '68 The Season That Changed Baseball—and America—Forever by Tim Wendel
Tim Wendel


message 16: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17648 comments Doug wrote: "Wayne is exactly right on the 'grain of salt' for most things written before what I term the modern era, which began with Jim Brosnan's The Long Season. Everything before that was white-washed bubb..."
I agree with The Echoing Green. It is one of my favorite all time books because that 1951 season was so fascinating. Also Ball Four is the best ever.


message 17: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17648 comments To Wayne:
This is just one article of which John Thorn mentioned about "fabrication". I don't know anything about the author of this post but this is what I was referring to:
http://blog.detroitathletic.com/2011/...


message 18: by Lance (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12620 comments Mod
I will chime in with my recommendation for anything by Roger Angell. Also David Halberstam. Harold mentioned one - "Summer of '49." Two others by him I recommed are "October 1964" and "The Teammates."

Earlier Buster Olney was mentioned. He wrote a book I have heard so many good things about and yesterday I got a copy at a library used book sale. The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty: The Game, the Team, and the Cost of Greatness


message 19: by Lance (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12620 comments Mod
To Gerard: I have also read several fictional baseball books. If you ar interested I have a few in mind there too.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Doubledf99.99 wrote: "Wayne wrote: "This to Harold:

I signed up for this group a few months ago, and the comments on the Cobb book just got to me enough that I wrote what you saw. I suggest you read the Stump piece for..."


I love the line from Norm Cash before the next game Gibson started in the Series. Mayo Smith told the Tigers, "He can be beat, he's not superman." Cash replied, "Then why is he dressing in a phonebooth and not the clubhouse?"


message 21: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17648 comments Never heard that-great line from Norm Cash. Thanks Doug


message 22: by Michael Linn (last edited Apr 26, 2015 09:05AM) (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments Curt Flood & Mickey Lolich were the kryptonite
Mike Linn
P.S. I hadn`t heard the great Cash line either...


message 23: by Michael (new)

Michael Tidd (tiddbitts) Hey there - new to the group, and honestly I've only read maybe 10 baseball books, but here are my top 4:

1. Glory of Their Times
2. Veeck as in Wreck (Bill Veeck)
3. Uppity (Bill White)
4. Ball Four (Jim Bouton)

Like I said I've read only a few more (Ron Darling, Terry Francona, Gus Zernial, etc) but those four stand out.

Glory of Their Times is stories from the actual players, which is a real treasure. Amazing stories of guys during their playing days, ups and downs, great quotes and anecdotes. It puts you back in the 30s-40s-50s like very few books can.

Veeck was a real upstart, but a glorious baseball personality, and a real champ at the written word too. The book is thick with tiny print and he lays it all out there, every trade, every sale of a player to a big league club, every fast one he pulled. Its a great treat to read the cowboy days of GM'ing and also get the outsider's view when he was squeezed out, mainly for pushing the future that eventually happened anyway.

Bill White was a favorite from some old simulation games when I would have him on my 60s teams, so I bought the book on a whim. What a tremendous story - from fighting with the club over his signing bonus, to racism in the minors, to the broadcasting booth, and eventually MLB's front office. White was uppity and proud of it, as he should be. Another sort of 'outsider' voice that wasn't a fan of the recent Commissioner.

And Ball Four, well of course - I'm not even halfway through Bouton's journal for the Pilots, but the inside stories, the lack of a filter, and his witticisms make it one of the best. He broke a lot of rules sharing what he did, and it definitely changed the game. Great character and a great read so far - my wife catches me giggling quite a bit while flipping through it.

That's my 4, hope it helps.


message 24: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments Hey Michael, Michael here too. Your list is pretty solid, even short as it is . And no offense meant, but the regulars here have read the 10 this month or so. I alone have over 500 taking up 6 bookshelves. So take a closer look at some of the previous comments, and you`ll get a fuller idea of what the truly great books are out there, although for only 10 books, you`ve got one heck of a start. Welcome aboard, & don`t be shy, we discuss everything baseball
Mike Linn
I sign my name this way because there are a couple of Mike`s already taking up some space.


message 25: by Gerard (new)

Gerard (gkwilecki) Thanks for all of the suggestions...I will use these lists to add to my library. I just finished the Billy Martin bio and am now reading the Hodges bio. Very much looking forward to the Cobb bio next month. I have read the Ted Williams bio by Bradley. I also read the Kahn book about Rickey and Robinson.


message 26: by Gerard (new)

Gerard (gkwilecki) Anyone read the Connie Mack books by Macht? I know they are lengthy, and the third book is due this fall.


message 27: by Mike (new)

Mike (mike9) | 6338 comments I have the first two but haven't tackled them yet.


message 28: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments Gerard wrote: "Thanks for all of the suggestions...I will use these lists to add to my library. I just finished the Billy Martin bio and am now reading the Hodges bio. Very much looking forward to the Cobb bio n..."

I am 2/3 through Rickey & Robinson, and because of my Brooklyn roots, love every page. Since Kahn was woven into the Brooklyn Dodger fabric, and the fact that I`ve read EVERY Brooklyn book I can get my hands on, on almost every page there`s something I didn`t know. I mean , that`s got to be the reason we read 5 books on Cobb, 3 on Hodges, etc. It`s to see if there`s something new. Here, there`s much new due to conversations, meetings, and Kahn knowing all the participants. If the topic interests one in the first place, grab it
Mike Linn


message 29: by Mike (new)

Mike (mike9) | 6338 comments Will do Mike.


message 30: by Marc (new)

Marc Robinson (sportkrank) | 27 comments I really enjoyed the Connie Mack books. I am reading the new Cobb bio right now. It is definitely a different view of what has been espoused before.


message 31: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments You must mean the Hornbaker book, because I don`t think the Leerhesen one has been released yet.
Mike Linn


message 32: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17648 comments Mike Linn, I had to decide whether to read Rickey and Robinson or Willie's Time by Charles Einstein. I chose the later. it's very intelligently written, witty, but more laced with history of America. I enjoy that too. Some of the stories are LOL. I'll get to Robinson and ricky next week hopefully unless I have to work-OMG WORK !!!!


message 33: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments Eventually, we`ll ream `em all
Mike Linn
Work???


message 34: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17648 comments Dobbie Gillis days


message 35: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments Maynerd G Krebs
Mike Linn


message 36: by Marc (new)

Marc Robinson (sportkrank) | 27 comments I am reading the Leerhesen book through netgalley.


message 37: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17648 comments He's no slacker either. Leerhesen is a Yale grad and
a former executive editor at Sports Illustrated. He has written for Rolling Stone, Esquire and the New York Times.


message 38: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments Marc wrote: "I am reading the Leerhesen book through netgalley."

What`s netgalley, and did you pay for it?
Mike Linn


message 39: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17648 comments https://www.netgalley.com/ You can get them before they are officially published


message 40: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments But a general in the public like me cannot?
Mike Linn
Thanks Harold


message 41: by Lance (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12620 comments Mod
I use NetGalley frequently for getting copies before publication. That was how I got the copy of In Pursuit of Pennants: Baseball Operations from Deadball to Moneyball as an example. An account from them is free. You have a blog...so you can sign up.


message 42: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments Thanks, you just increased my reading by a lot
Mike Linn


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Michael wrote: "Maynerd G Krebs
Mike Linn"


I loved Maynard G. Krebs. He was the ideal of cool I tried to live up to (failing miserably). He was definitely cooler than Gilligan.


message 44: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments Robert Osbourne Denver made a career of basically 2 identical characters,Krebs & Gilligan. He passed away 10 years ago at the age of 70. He seemed like a nice man, there`s a Rosie O`Donnell interview on Google
Mike Linn


message 45: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17648 comments Maynard was from Dobie Gillis Doug. I doubt that you remember him in that role, but his notable line was WORK!!. He was an early hippie type who was lazy.


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

I remember seeing him on reruns of Dobie Gillis. I remember Dobie always sitting in front of the Thinker statue wondering about life and girls. I loved Maynard's gotee and beatnik ways. What I meant was that Bob Denver was definitely cooleer as Maynard than he was as the nerdy goofball Gilligan that he played later.


message 47: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17648 comments Yes I understood and you're right. I loved that show. Dwayne Hickman starred and you'd get cameos by future stars like warren beatty on it.


message 48: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10876 comments But don`t forget Steve Franken as Chatsworth Osbourne Jr.,Sheila Kuehl as Zelda Gilroy, Frank Fayen as Herbert T. Gillis, Dobie`s father,& my personal teenage crush, Tuesday Weld, as Thalia Menninger, who was pretty hot on a Monday too. Warren Beatty was Milton Armitage for 5 episodes-
a very young at the time,
Mike Linn


message 49: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17648 comments I think the father's name was Frank Faylen. He was in some world war 2 movies I remembered Tuesday weld's face but not her name. I always confused her with Sandra Dee. Both hot blondes


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