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Not that anyone asked me, but ...
2008-04-30 18:15
by Bob Timmermann

Since this is a day for Baseball Toaster to discuss top ten baseball books, I thought I'd drop in my 10 favorite baseball books. I don't know if they qualify as "best" or "essential" or "influential" or perhaps any or all.

Most of the titles have been mentioned before in both of the two links above and they aren't presented in any order except the order I remembered them (this list changes as I see titles on my shelf):

The Southpaw and Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris. Josh Wilker has written about Harris's work much more eloquently than I can over at Cardboard Gods, but the story of Henry Wiggen and Bruce Pearson is something that everyone should read. Even with the stories set in the 1950s, the themes are timeless.

The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence Ritter. Ritter lets the history of the Deadball Era speak for itself. Sure some players told some tales, but this is still the most enjoyable and enriching way to learn about baseball before the era of film, radio, and television. The Fred Snodgrass and Chief Meyers chapters are the best.

The Long Season by Jim Brosnan. Before there was Jim Bouton, there was Jim Brosnan and he was told us the story of being a big league relief pitcher in 1959. There aren't tales of players taking greenies or looking up women's skirts, but Brosnan's season is just as fascinating.

The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip through Buck O'Neil's America by Joe Posnanski. Posnanski took a man who had turned into an icon and turned him back into a human being and made you realize that the difference between icon and regular guy is not much. In the end, I admired the human being more than the icon.

Lords of the Realm by John Helyar. Helyar expertly details how baseball's owners took the country's leading legal monopoly and in, paraphrasing Ted Turner, "****** it up."

Branch Rickey: Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman by Lee Lowenfish. For a 683 page, greatly detailed, and heavily footnoted book, this is a quick read and tells you the good, the bad, and the in between about one of baseball's most influential figures.

Baseball Before We Knew It by David Block. Block turned up historical information on the history of baseball-like games that completely changed how we should view the sport's beginnings. It is an incredible work of scholarship.

Even the Browns by William B. Mead. (Also published as The 10 Worst Years in Baseball). This is picked more for sentimental reasons as Mead writes about the 1944 season in which the St. Louis Browns took advantage of rosters decimated by players sent off to serve in World War II to win their only AL pennant. 1944 was my mom's favorite year to watch baseball as her two hometown teams in St. Louis made it to the World Series.

Strange, but True Baseball Stories by Furman Bisher. This children's book was published in 1966 back when Furman Bisher was just a grouchy old man, unlike now when he is just a grouchy very old man. But it was one of the first baseball books I read over and over and over. I loved the story about how Stan Musial switched from being a pitcher to an outfielder (the story isn't that strange, he hurt his shoulder) or how Gene Rye hit three home runs in an inning in the minor leagues. I just ate stuff up like that. And what is The Griddle now, but a collection of strange, but true baseball stories?

2008-04-30 19:14:47
2.   Bob Timmermann
I deleted comment #1 because I put a comment of mine on the wrong blog, thread, and just about everything else.
2008-04-30 19:30:47
3.   grandcosmo
I throw mine on here in no particular order:

My Life as a Fan by Wilfrid Sheed
A False Spring by Pat Jordan
The Catcher was a Spy by Nicholas Dawidoff
The Glory of their Times by Lawrence Ritter
You Know Me, Al by Ring Lardner
The Universal Baseball Association, Inc. by Robert Coover
The Lords of Baseball by Harold Parrott
The Natural by Bernard Malamud
Once More Around the Park (to represent all Angell books) by Roger Angell
Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract by Bill James

and the great short story by James Thurber, "You Could Look It Up."

2008-04-30 19:47:31
4.   Johan
The Toaster has been useful today. A couple weeks ago, all my bookmarks just disappeared, including links to the books on my list. Today I've been reminded of two of them

Crazy '08
Baseball Before We knew It

Yay Toaster!

2008-04-30 19:49:56
5.   Linkmeister
Hey! I have a copy of "Even the Browns!" I thought that was too obscure for anyone else to know!
2008-04-30 20:59:00
6.   Bluebleeder87
I read a few books about baseball when I was in Jr. High School but the one that stands out in my mind is "My Life in Baseball" written by Ty Cobb but Al Stump was the ghost rider (what ever that means) but yeah it was the first book I ever started & FINISHED reading so it kind of has a sentimental value to me I guess.
2008-05-01 05:30:24
7.   Johnny Nucleo
I'm hardly as well-read in the baseball book category as some readers, but I liked "9 Innings" by Dave Okrent, "October 1964" by David Halberstam, "The Glory of Their Times", and the Bill James Abstracts. And yes, I liked "Moneyball".

Has anyone read "Dollar Sign on the Muscle", about baseball scouting in the 60's? That's next on my list.

2008-05-01 06:13:50
8.   Ron Kaplan
Kudos for qualifying this list as "favorite," as opposed to "greatest/best," which, of necessity, is a subjective matter.

A few of my favorite things:
* Ball Four
* All Those Mornings...At the Post, by Shirley Povich
* Imagining Baseball: America's Pastime and Popular Culture, by David McGimpsey
* Baseball: America's Diamond Mind, by David Crepeau
* Anything written by Leonard Koppett

2008-05-01 15:58:29
9.   scareduck
"Helyar expertly details how baseball's owner"

And all this time I was under the delusion that each team had its own owner.

2008-05-01 21:36:02
10.   Samhain
I was thrilled to find out that the actual interview tapes for "The Glory Of Their Times"--one of my favorites--have been released in an audio book version.

I've back-ordered it at Amazon. Can't wait to hear the voices of those early baseball stars. Should be like a time machine.

Among my other favorites.

"Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy" by Jane Leavy
"Veeck--As In Wreck" by Bill Veeck and Ed Linn
"Men At Work" by George Will
"Why Time Begins On Opening Day" by Thomas Boswell
"The Long Season" and "Pennant Race" by Jim Brosnan
"Bill James Historical Abstract" (both editions)
"Ball Four" by Jim Bouton
"My Greatest Day In Baseball" John P. Carmichael, ed.

2008-10-22 19:19:15
11.   Lee Corbett
I liked The Great American Novel by Roth

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