Baseball books that hit it out of the park

Seven baseball writers share their favorite classic books about the game. 

'The Universal Baseball Association Inc., J Henry Waugh, Prop.,' by Robert Coover (1968)

Batter up! In honor of the return of the "boys of summer," Monitor contributor Randy Dotinga asked seven baseball authors about their favorite classic baseball books. Here are 9 great reads.

 

WRITER John Thorn, official historian, Major League Baseball ("Baseball in the Garden of Eden")

FAVORITE BOOK "The Universal Baseball Association Inc., J Henry Waugh, Prop.," by Robert Coover (1968)

COMMENT "It's not only the greatest of baseball novels, but a crystal-ball view into the brain of the obsessed fantasy-baseball player – and all of us who often prefer baseball to real life."

 

WRITER Marilyn Cohen ("No Girls in the Clubhouse")

FAVORITE BOOKS "Women in Baseball: The Forgotten History," by Gai Ingham Berlage (1993) and "Breaking Into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime," by Jean Hastings Ardell (2005)

COMMENT "These great reads tell a compelling story about historical [figures] who have been ignored or erased."

 

WRITER Sridhar Pappu ("The Year of the Pitcher")

FAVORITE BOOKS "9 Innings: The Anatomy of a Baseball Game," by Daniel Okrent (1985) and "A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports," by Brad Snyder (2006)

COMMENT "In '9 Innings,' the framework of a single regular season game between the Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles truly makes one understand the often hidden complexities of the modern game. Each pitch and each at-bat is a dramatic moment unto itself.

"Much of Snyder's book takes place away from the field. But one could argue that it is the story of modern sports itself. Contrary to some people who believe the sport had a much simpler, innocent past, professional baseball has never been a children's game. It was played by grown men who, for generations, weren't treated as such."

 

WRITER Debra A. Shattuck ("Bloomer Girls: Women Baseball Pioneers")

FAVORITE BOOK "Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game,"  by John Thorn (2011)

COMMENT "Even as Thorn exposes the fact that most of what we thought we knew about baseball's history is dead wrong, he shows us that the lies we've told ourselves about our national pastime are a positive part of the story. He assures us that it is OK to continue enjoying the fantasy we've created."

 

WRITER Alan Schwarz ("The Numbers Game")

FAVORITE BOOK "Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball," by John Helyar (1994)

COMMENT "Incredibly enlightening and well written, it's the inside story of the relationship between players and owners from baseball's beginnings through the 1994 strike."

 

WRITER: David Rapp ("Tinker to Evers to Chance")

FAVORITE BOOK "The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract," by Bill James (2001)

COMMENT "This is the one book I'd want if stranded on a desert island. No matter how little or much you partake of this book, you will know twice as much about the game of baseball and its history as you did before. It's a gift that just keeps on giving."

 

WRITER Robert C. Cottrell ("Two Pioneers")

FAVORITE BOOK "It Happens Every Spring," by Valentine Davies (1949)

COMMENT "In this novel, a chemist discovers an ointment that causes a baseball to veer away from wood. He becomes a great pitcher. It's corny but captures the majesty of the sport."

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