8 new baseball books to carry you through spring training

As major-league ball players limber up for the long season in Florida and Arizona, fans can begin to ramp up their baseball reading by reaching for one of the following recent releases.

1. ‘Gil Hodges: A Hall of Fame Life,’ by Mort Zachter

The irony of the title of this book is that Gil Hodges has never been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, even though many close observers of his career have long contended that he deserves a spot in the Cooperstown shrine. Besides being an outstanding first baseman for the Dodgers, Hodges managed the 1969 Miracle Mets to a World Series championship. It was the class and integrity with which Hodges comported himself both in and out of baseball that elevates him in many eyes and is an underlying theme of this exhaustively researched biography. 

Here's an excerpt from "Gil Hodges":

“After games, [Jackie] Robinson and his white teammates went their separate ways. But at some point early in their friendship, and especially after Hodges married in 1948, the Robinsons and Hodges began to spend time together away from the ballpark. Like Hodges, Robinson was no night owl, and the two men had much in common.

“‘Gil was one of the first and only ones we socialized with,’ Robinson’s wife, Rachel, told me. ‘He was quiet, friendly, warm – you could count on him. And you didn’t have to ask for help from Gil ... he anticipated what you needed and was there for you.’  ”

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