Posted Under: Baseball's Best Books
With Christmas just a few days away, and many of us struggling to figure out that perfect gift or at least one that they won’t hate, I thought I would ask some folks from around baseball for some recommendations on books that they love, and would put high on their list to give that baseball fan in your family. Here are some of the answers that I got back:
From Dan Connolly, National Baseball Writer, the Baltimore Sun
(His blog- Connelly’s Bar - is one of my favorite blogs hosted by a newspaper.)
“This may be cliche, but if you are a baseball fan or baseball writer, and you haven’t read Roger Kahn’s The Boys of Summer about his experiences as a young Brooklyn Dodgers beatwriter and the lives of those players as the years pile up, well there’s a hole in your resume. Tremendous insight and stories that hold up decades later. Also, anything by David Halberstam is great, but The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship is extraordinary. ”
From Lee Lowenfish, Author of such great baseball books as Branch Rickey: Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman and Art of Pitching with Tom Seaver. He has written some of the most popular pieces on LoveMyteam about Scouting in baseball, but you can also visit him at LeeLowenfish.com
“Among the books that came out this year Vernona Gomez and Lawrence Goldstone’s Lefty: An American Odyssey about her father Lefty Gomez ranks very high. They really recreate
the period of Lefty’s greatness, the 1930s, and place it in very fine historical context. After his playing career he became a genuine ambassador for baseball and that’s all in the book, too. Also most fascinating are the stories of how he met and married his wife June O’Dea a top-notch Broadway musical comedy star.
Among older books I had in my library that I read for the first time Baltimore AP sportswriter’s Gordon Beard’s 1967 Birds on the wing;: The story of the Baltimore Orioles was a revelation about the modern Orioles’ first championship of 1966.”
From Jim Thompson, Professional Scout for the New York Mets
(Jim actually sent me a long list, but since several of his choices repeated others, I picked out a few of the more unexpected choices to share.)
The Art of Fielding: A Novel by Chad Harbach – A must read for the DIII or small liberal arts college baseball player. Traits of former teammates, and oneself, are readily apparent amongst Harbach’s characters. He captures the dynamics of a team at this level where competing interests and the understanding that, for most, the end of their athletic careers are near.
The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball and the Art of Pitching (Vintage) by Ron Darling – Clearly this is not an impartial choice, however, Ronnie does a great job of capturing the on field emotions of players in the moment that the casual observer doesn’t always recognize.
The Last Best League: One Summer, One Season, One Dream by Jim Collins – outstanding work about chasing the dream in the Cape Cod Summer League
and lastly, Scout’s Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team by Bill Shanks – The antithesis to “Moneyball”