• Essential Baseball Library

    Posted by on July 31st, 2009 · Comments (22)

    As shared in past comments, my “Essential Baseball Library” recommendations have been added to WasWatching.com. Click here to see it.

    A few comments on this:

    1. It’s limited to books that I’ve personally read and/or have used for reference. Therefore, if there’s a notable work out there that seems like it’s missing – i.e., “Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero by Leigh Montville” or “Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life by Richard Ben Cramer” – it’s because I haven’t read it (yet).

    2. If it seems like the list is heavy towards the time period 1980-2009, there’s a reason for that: My date of birth. Granted, it would be nice to have more works listed here covering the time period pre-1980. However, I was 17-years old in 1980 – and, until that time, I was more into playing and watching baseball than reading about it. It wasn’t until I was in college, and thereafter, that reading about baseball became one of my favorite baseball-related activities. As such, I was more likely to read baseball books released after 1980, etc.

    3. Some of the books listed have publication dates that differ from what you might see in other sources. Basically, for the most part, I listed the publication dates as they appear in the copies of these books that are in my possession.

    4. I decided to exclude “annual” baseball books from this list – although there are many great ones, especially the old Bill James Abstracts. Perhaps, at a later date, I’ll decide to include them on the list.

    5. Related to the above, this list is very fluid – and a work in progress. And, I’ll be updating it appropriately, as needed.

    Please feel free to use the comments section below to discuss this list – and thanks in advance for your interest and feedback on it.

    Comments on Essential Baseball Library

    1. yagottagotomo1
      July 31st, 2009 | 12:44 am

      What about 8 men out? A False Spring? Boys of SUmmer and October Men? Clemente (by Marraniss)? All in my library.

    2. July 31st, 2009 | 12:47 am

      yagottagotomo1 wrote:

      What about 8 men out? A False Spring? Boys of SUmmer and October Men? Clemente (by Marraniss)? All in my library.

      Have not read them sans October Men (by Kahn). Actually, I started October Men and stopped – because it bored me so much…which is hard to do, there, considering the subject matter.

    3. yagottagotomo1
      July 31st, 2009 | 1:04 am

      I liked October men- Boys of SUmmer was much better. You have got to read 8 men out and A False Spring- wont regret it.

    4. MJ
      July 31st, 2009 | 6:35 am

      I read Clemente and loved it. I knew nothing about Clemente before I read the book (he played before my time) and came away with a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the man and a deep sadness that I never saw him play. His game sounded like I’d have loved it. At the very least, I wish there was good video footage of his throws from RF.

    5. July 31st, 2009 | 7:52 am

      What about Philip Roth’s THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL? OK, that’s maybe not essential, and Roth has probably become a little overrated over the years, but I still can’t resist it.

    6. July 31st, 2009 | 9:01 am

      @ MJ: I’ve heard good things about David Maraniss’ Clemente. Haven’t read it myself. Not sure that I ever will.

    7. July 31st, 2009 | 9:07 am

      @ Justin: The Great American Novel by Philip Roth? Haven’t read it. Although I know many love. In general, I’ve never been a huge fan of baseball fiction – sans a few exceptions…and very few at that.

      For example, I once started “If I Never Get Back” by Darryl Brock – which many love – and got bored. I guess there’s a part of me that has to know something is true for me to be interested in it….really, really, interested in it. (Which makes little sense, because I love SciFi….so, maybe it’s just a baseball thing.)

    8. July 31st, 2009 | 9:37 am

      One book that I wrestled with, and eventually left off the list, was “The Baseball Encyclopedia” by Macmillan. There was a time where I thought that was the most important book that I owned. I used to refer to it as “The Book of Knowledge” and held it like it was the baseball torah or something…

      But, then came along Lee Sinins’ Complete Baseball Encyclopedia on CD, and then I discovered “Total Baseball” and the Big Mac no longer became my go-to book…

      And, since I have Total Baseball on the list, along with the STATS Sourcebooks, which were gold at the time and still a great resource, I left “The Book of Knowledge” off the list – for now – ‘tho it will always hold a special place in my heart… ;-)

    9. July 31st, 2009 | 9:43 am

      Via email, someone suggested:

      The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book.

      I’ve never seen it. Anyone else like it?

    10. July 31st, 2009 | 9:50 am

      Steve –

      Do yourself a favor and check out a few of these:

      The Last Best League by Jim Collins
      This Ain’t Brain Surgery by Larry Dierker
      A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Hall of Fame by Mickey McDermott
      Juicing the Game by Howard Bryant

      Excellent reads all.

    11. Steve Lombardi
      July 31st, 2009 | 9:56 am

      @ sean mcnally: Thanks.

      I read the Dierker book. Took about 100 pages or so to get me really interested. He jumps around a lot on a topic – from his playing days, to the booth, to being a MGR. Took a while to get used to that style. He shoots from the hip yet takes a thinking approach to situations. Not a bad book at all.

      I did want to add a PED history book to the EBL. Thought about adding Canseco’s first book – but decided against it. Almost added Game of Shadows…never read the Bryant book – ‘tho was interested in it when it came out. It didn’t sell well, did it?

    12. MJ
      July 31st, 2009 | 10:01 am

      I read Game of Shadows when it came out. At the time, it was a very informative and interesting book. At this point, there is nothing “new” or “informative” about it if one were to read it today because we all know everything contained in that book already. Still a well-written and well-researched book.

      I didn’t care for Howard Bryant’s book, nor do I care for Howard Bryant in general.

    13. MJ
      July 31st, 2009 | 10:02 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      @ MJ: I’ve heard good things about David Maraniss’ Clemente. Haven’t read it myself. Not sure that I ever will.

      Honestly, do yourself a favor and read it. I know it’s not Yankee-related and I know you don’t want to relive the chapter on the 1960 World Series, but you really learn a lot about Clemente as a person.

      I truly believe that every baseball fan should read about Clemente (if you never saw him play). It opened my eyes.

    14. July 31st, 2009 | 10:16 am

      @ MJ: You might want to check out
      Roberto Clemente: The Great One by Bruce Markusen

      I haven’t read it.
      But, I know it’s out there.

    15. July 31st, 2009 | 11:20 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      @ sean mcnally: Almost added Game of Shadows…never read the Bryant book – ‘tho was interested in it when it came out. It didn’t sell well, did it?

      I don’t know about sales, but it is quite thorough, and traces the origin story well.

      Bryant also wrote Shut Out about the history of the Boston Red Sox and race which was fascinating.

    16. July 31st, 2009 | 11:40 am

      @ sean mcnally: Cliff at Bronx Banter edited Juicing the Game. Hey, Cliff, if you’re reading, can you get me a review copy? ;-)

    17. Total Blam
      July 31st, 2009 | 1:20 pm

      Without getting into its merits or shortcomings, by leaving out “Moneyball”, you’re kind of ignoring the book that has dominated the zeitgeist of baseball for the last half-decade or so.

      It would be sort of like compiling an essential fantasy books library and omitting the Harry Potter series.

    18. July 31st, 2009 | 1:48 pm

      “Moneyball” was as hot as a baseball book can be “hot” – when it first came out. But, now, all these years later, can we really say it was any more insightful than “The Game According To Syd” or some other GM theory book?

    19. G.I. Joey
      July 31st, 2009 | 1:52 pm

      Speaking of “Moneyball”, Steven Soderbergh was recently very close to making it into a movie, but the project has since been derailed.

    20. Snoop
      July 31st, 2009 | 2:01 pm

      I really enjoyed Men at Work by George Will. Profiled LaRussa (the manager), Ripken (the fielder), Gwynn (the hitter) and Hershiser (the pitcher), back around 1990 or so. It revived my interest in baseball after a long hiatus.

      Also really liked October 1964 and Summer of 49 by Halberstam (especially the former). They center on the Yanks but give insight into their opposition as well.

      Heard about the Moneyball: The Movie rumors. Great book, but how would that make an interesting movie?

    21. G.I. Joey
      July 31st, 2009 | 2:11 pm

      Snoop wrote:

      Heard about the Moneyball: The Movie rumors. Great book, but how would that make an interesting movie?

      Good question. All I know is that Soderbergh turned in a version of the script to the studio (Columbia I think) that had the movie being shot documentary style with Brad Pitt as Billy Beane. Looking into this furhter just now, Soderbergh is off the project but Aaron Sorkin has signed on as the writer. Pitt still attached to play Beane.

    22. Raf
      July 31st, 2009 | 2:12 pm

      MJ wrote:

      At the very least, I wish there was good video footage of his throws from RF.

      If they ever come out with a DVD set of the 1971 World Series, you may get your wish.

    Leave a reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.