From the time I picked up my first Little Golden Book, I’ve been a voracious reader. My current profession—librarian—probably speaks to that as well as anything. As I grew into a love of baseball, I found it and literature to be an instant match. There’s so much history and so many stories tied up within the national pastime that no amount of ink could ever fully capture it all. In my case, though, it hasn’t been for a lack of effort, as baseball-themed books are never far from my Goodreads list.
With all of us stuck at home without live sports at the moment, opportunities for reading have certainly increased. As such, I present some of my favorite baseball tomes for your perusal...
Moneyball- The beginning (for better or worse) of data-driven baseball.
Baseball Between The Numbers- Fully opened my eyes/mind to analytics-based thinking.
The Shift- More narrative than numbers regarding new-age baseball philosophies.
Luckiest Man- Inspiring and tragic in equal measure.
Crazy ‘08- If you are fascinated by the Dead Ball Era, this is the book for you.
Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty- Was Cobb really the tyrant Al Stump portrayed him as?
Chief Bender’s Burden- A touching, yet difficult, account of being a Native American star in baseball’s early days.
Just Tell Me I Can’t- Jamie Moyer pitched until he was nearly 50 years old!
Game of Shadows- Still the definitive essay on baseball’s Steroid Era.
The Phenomenon- Rick Ankiel experienced the highest highs and lowest lows of perhaps any baseball player of all time.
The Streak- Sizes up the differences & similarities between Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken Jr.’s iron-man streaks.
Emperors & Idiots- Wonderful overview of the entire rivalry.
Now I Can Die In Peace- Bill Simmons with some of the most hilarious & relatable baseball writing ever produced.
Last Night Of The Yankee Dynasty- A history of those New York Yankees squads we all loved to hate.
The Yankee Years- Joe Torre’s perspective on NYC baseball.
Francona: The Red Sox Years- Tito’s legendary rise and precipitous fall as Red Sox skipper.
Faithful- Step-by-step walkthrough of that curse-breaking ‘04 season (co-written by Stephen King!)
Cool Of The Evening- I bought this at the 2005 TwinsFest and it remains the best 1960s Twins history book I’ve ever read.
Season of Dreams- Good luck finding this one, but it’s an absolute gem, recalling the 1991 World Championship season.
Hi Everybody!- This will be your baseball-loving grandfather’s favorite book ever—guaranteed. Herb Carneal was that generation’s “voice of the Twins”.
One Tough Out (coming soon!)- Rod Carew’s battles with opposing pitchers—and heart disease.
Why Baseball Matters- Why do we invest so much time/emotion in this thing called baseball?
Are We Winning?- The strong connection between fathers and sons in baseball fandom.
The Dad Report- Father/son duos that reached the major leagues.
I Don’t Care If We Never Get Back- Two guys go on the ultimate baseball road trip—30 games in 30 days (aka my dream).
90% Mental- Is mental-skills coaching the new frontier in baseball? Also, Bob Tewksbury pitched (briefly) for the Twins and talks about those experiences!