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America’s Pastime on the Page: Baseball Reads

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America’s Pastime on the Page: Baseball Reads

baseball reads

Major League Baseball’s season is in full swing, and the sport known as “America’s Pastime” is more exciting than it’s been in years. Of course, when it comes to the written word, baseball has always had a knack for coming alive on the printed page, and inspiring many fascinating reads written by players and fans alike. Here are some of the best baseball-themed books you can check out with your Livingston Library card…

ball four

(Descriptions provided by the publishers)

Ball Four by Jim Bouton

When Ball Four was published in 1970, it created a firestorm. Author Jim Bouton was called a Judas, a Benedict Arnold, and a “social leper” for having violated the “sanctity of the clubhouse.” Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn tried to force Bouton to sign a statement saying the book wasn’t true. Ballplayers, most of whom hadn’t read it, denounced the book. It was even banned by a few libraries. Almost everyone else, however, loved Ball Four. Fans liked discovering that athletes were real people-often wildly funny people. Today, Ball Four has taken on another role-as a time capsule of life in the sixties. This ebook version includes the first edition, the 1980, 1990, and 2000 updates, and 138 photos.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

Moneyball is a quest for something as elusive as the Holy Grail, something that money apparently can’t buy: the secret of success in baseball. The logical places to look would be the front offices of major league teams, and the dugouts, perhaps even in the minds of the players themselves. Lewis mines all these possibilities–his intimate and original portraits of big league ballplayers are alone worth the price of admission–but the real jackpot is a cache of numbers–numbers!–collected over the years by a strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts: software engineers, statisticians, Wall Street analysts, lawyers and physics professors.

Game Time by Roger Angell

Roger Angell’s famous explorations of the summer game are built on acute observation and joyful participation, conveyed in a prose style as admired and envied as Ted Williams’s swing. Here is Angell on Fenway Park in September, on Bob Gibson brooding in retirement, on Tom Seaver in mid-windup, on the abysmal early and recent Mets, on a scout at work in backcountry Kentucky, on Pete Rose and Willie Mays and Pedro Martinez, on the astounding Barry Bonds at Pac Bell Park, and more. With twenty-nine essays divided between spring, summer, and fall, Game Time carries readers through the arc of the season with refreshed understanding and pleasure. With an introduction by Richard Ford, this collection represents Angell’s best writings, from spring training in 1962 to the explosive World Series of 2002.

October 1964 by David Halberstam

The “compelling” New York Times bestseller by the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, capturing the 1964 World Series between the Yankees and Cardinals (Newsweek). David Halberstam, an avid sports writer with an investigative reporter’s tenacity, superbly details the end of the fifteen-year reign of the New York Yankees in October 1964. That October found the Yankees going head-to-head with the St. Louis Cardinals for the World Series pennant. Expertly weaving the narrative threads of both teams’ seasons, Halberstam brings the major personalities on the field—from switch-hitter Mickey Mantle to pitcher Bob Gibson—to life. Using the teams’ subcultures, Halberstam also analyzes the cultural shifts of the sixties. The result is a unique blend of sports writing and cultural history as engrossing as it is insightful.

bo jackson

The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson by Jeff Pearlman

Drawing on 720 original interviews, a New York Times best-selling sportswriter captures as never before the elusive truth about the greatest athlete of all time who took the world by storm from the mid-1980s into the early 1990s–and then, almost overnight, disappeared.

Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original by Howard Bryant

Few names in the history of baseball evoke the excellence and dynamism that Rickey Henderson’s does. He holds the record for the most stolen bases in a single game, and he’s scored more runs than any player ever. “If you cut Rickey Henderson in half, you’d have two Hall of Famers,” the baseball historian Bill James once said. But perhaps even more than his prowess on the field, Rickey Henderson’s is a story of Oakland, California, the town that gave rise to so many legendary athletes like him. And it’s a story of a sea change in sports, when athletes gained celebrity status and Black players finally earned equitable salaries. Henderson embraced this shift with his trademark style, playing for nine different teams throughout his decades-long career and sculpting a brash, larger-than-life persona that stole the nation’s heart. Now, in the hands of critically acclaimed sportswriter and culture critic Howard Bryant, one of baseball’s greatest and most original stars finally gets his due.

Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series That Changed Baseball by Luke Epplin

In intimate, absorbing detail, Our Team traces the story of the integration of the Cleveland Indians and their quest for a World Series title through four key participants: Bill Veeck, an eccentric and visionary owner adept at exploding fireworks on and off the field; Larry Doby, a soft-spoken, hard-hitting pioneer whose major-league breakthrough shattered stereotypes that so much of white America held about Black ballplayers; Bob Feller, a pitching prodigy from the Iowa cornfields who set the template for the athlete as businessman; and Satchel Paige, a legendary pitcher from the Negro Leagues whose belated entry into the majors whipped baseball fans across the country into a frenzy. Together, as the backbone of a team that epitomized the postwar American spirit in all its hopes and contradictions, these four men would captivate the nation by storming to the World Series–all the while rewriting the rules of what was possible in sports.

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

An excerpt from Goodwin’s memoir of growing up in suburbs of New York in the 1950s: “When I was six, my father gave me a bright-red scoreboard that opened my heart to the game of baseball. After dinner on long summer nights, he would sit beside me in out small enclosed porch to hear my account of that day’s Brooklyn Dodger game. Night after night be taught me the odd collection of symbols, numbers, and letters that enable a baseball lover to record every action of the game. Our score sheet had blank boxes in which we could draw our own slanted lines in the form of a diamond as we followed players around the bases. Wherever the baserunner’s progress stopped, the line stopped. He instructed me to fill in the unused boxes at the end of each inning with an elaborate checkerboard design which made it absolutely clear who had been the last to bat and who would lead off the next innings. By the time I had mastered the art of scorekeeping, a lasting bond had been forged among my father, baseball, and me.”

infinite baseball

Infinite Baseball: Notes from a Philosopher at the Ballpark by Alva Noë

Almost more than any other sport, baseball has long attracted the interest of writers and intellectuals. Relatively few of them have been philosophers however. Alva Noë, a celebrated philosopher, here proposes to collect and rework his short articles and blog posts (many of which first appeared on npr.org) on baseball into a cohesive and accessible book that tries to tease out its deeper meanings – and to advance a view of what baseball ultimately is all about. A basic theme will run through the book, which is that fundamentally baseball is concerned with questions of responsibility and liability – i.e. who gets credit or blame for a play. It is starting from this fundamental insight that Noe then ranges over diverse topics like the slowness of baseball and the virtues of boredom, why fans write down box scores, the meaning of the no-hitter, television replays, the aesthetics of ballparks, how we learn to ‘see’ baseball like we learn to look at art, the ethics of performance enhancing drugs, the nature of fandom, and reflections on rules and umpires. Noë’s writing voice is informal and personal, and always puts the details of the sport before the ideas. Ultimately, his essays are part of a larger view of baseball as fundamentally a game about values – and not simply, as some would have it, a numbers game.

The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnanski

Longer than Moby-Dick and nearly as ambitious,​ The Baseball 100 is a one-of-a-kind work by award-winning sportswriter and lifelong student of the game Joe Posnanski that tells the story of the sport through the remarkable lives of its 100 greatest players. In the book’s introduction, Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator George F. Will marvels, “Posnanski must already have lived more than 200 years. How else could he have acquired such a stock of illuminating facts and entertaining stories about the rich history of this endlessly fascinating sport?”

Lou Gehrig: The Lost Memoir by Lou Gehrig

In 1927, the legendary Lou Gehrig sat down to write the remarkable story of his life and career. He was at his peak, fresh off a record-breaking season with the fabled 1927 World Series champion Yankees. It was an era unlike any other. Gehrig’s personal remembrances were published that year as popular weekly columns in The Oakland Tribune. Until now, those pages were lost to history.

24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid by Willie Mays and John Shea

Widely regarded as the greatest all-around player in baseball history because of his unparalleled hitting, defense and baserunning, the beloved Willie Mays offers people of all ages his lifetime of experience meeting challenges with positivity, integrity and triumph in 24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid. Presented in 24 chapters to correspond with his universally recognized uniform number, Willie’s memoir provides more than the story of his role in America’s pastime. This is the story of a man who values family and community, engages in charitable causes especially involving children and follows a philosophy that encourages hope, hard work and the fulfillment of dreams.

im keith hernandez

I’m Keith Hernandez: A Memoir by Keith Hernandez

Keith Hernandez revolutionized how first base was played, partied hard, and played harder than anyone as a champion New York Met in the ’80s, and even had a star turn appearing as himself on an episode of Seinfeld. Now Hernandez is ready to tell the full story of his career, the majority of which he spent with the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets. He was a five-time All-Star who shared the 1979 NL MVP award, and won two World Series titles, one each with the Cardinals and Mets. He received Gold Glove awards in eleven consecutive seasons, the most by any first baseman in baseball history, and he served as the first team captain in Mets history.

108 Stitches : Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters From My Time in the Game by Ron Darling

New York Times bestselling author and Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Ron Darling offers his own take on the “six degrees of separation” game and knits together wild, wise, and wistful stories reflecting the full arc of a life in and around our national pastime. Darling has played with or reported on just about everybody who has put on a uniform since 1983, and they in turn have played with or reported on just about everybody who put on a uniform in a previous generation. Through relationships with baseball legends on and off the field, like Yale coach Smoky Joe Wood, Willie Mays, Bart Giamatti, Tom Seaver and Mickey Mantle, Darling’s reminiscences reach all the way back to Babe Ruth and other early twentieth-century greats. Like the 108 stitches on a baseball, Darling’s experiences are interwoven with every athlete who has ever played, every coach or manager who ever sat in a dugout, and every fan who ever played hooky from work or school to sit in the bleachers for a day game.

Play Hungry: The Making of a Baseball Player by Pete Rose

Pete Rose was a legend on the field. As baseball’s Hit King, he shattered a number of hitting records that may never be broken. And during the 1970s, he was the leader of the Big Red Machine, the Cincinnati Reds teams that dominated the game. But he’s also the greatest player who may never make the Hall of Fame because of his lifetime ban from the sport. Perhaps no other athlete’s story is so representative of the triumphs and tragedies of our national pastime. In Play Hungry, Rose tells us the story of how through hard work, hustle, and sheer will he became one of the unlikeliest stars of the game. Guided by the dad he idolized, a local sports hero with the spirit of a champion, Pete had an All-American boyhood. But even with the coaching of his father on how to compete and play baseball the right way, Pete was cut from his team as a teenager–he wasn’t a natural. By the time scouts were coming to his high school games, he wasn’t even considered the best player on the team. Rose was determined, though, and never would be satisfied with anything less than success. His relentless hustle and headfirst style would help him overcome his natural shortcomings, leading to a storied career including the Rookie of the Year Award, three batting titles, and the MVP Award. Play Hungry is Pete Rose’s love letter to the game, and an inside story of life on the diamond.

Joe, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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