Five Books for Baseball Lovers (And 3 More If You Like the Right Team)

It’s Opening Day!!

I thought this day would never come; winter seemed to creep along so slowly. But here it is, at long last! I can stop satisfying my baseball cravings with feel-good movies and books about the sport, and watch the actual game.

Not that books and movies about baseball aren’t great. They must be, because people keep making movies and writing books. Just recently I saw on Paper Cuts, the New York Times blog about books, that Alyssa Milano has come out with a new book about baseball (or rather about her love of baseball) that I’m considering reading. After all, I’m a girl and I love baseball, and in my experience there really aren’t that many of us. Solidarity, sister! The blog also mentions another, slightly older, book by a baseball loving woman, and I’d love to support her as well, but sadly she’s a Yankees fan (ptooey!).

Baseball is a relatively new love for me, only a few years old, but it has already taken over. Not surprising to the people who know and love me, my love of baseball began as most of my other loves begin–with a book; Zack Hample’s Watching Baseball Smarter. Hample’s book taught me to really look at baseball and see that it is well worth true and serious study. But be careful, once you do, there’s no going back. Baseball is such an easy game to love, a game of strategy and skill (but still somehow allowing any couch-potato watching to think “I could do that!”), intense loyalties, tradition and chivalry. There are those who say baseball is boring and slow, but that’s the ADD talking and I say those people aren’t really seeing the game. Now I could go into great detail about the game and what’s really going on under the surface, the history, the stats, the dirt… but other people have done that before me, and much better than I could. So instead, I give you my list of my favorite books about the greatest sport of all time… Baseball.

  1. Watching Baseball Smarter, A Professional Fan’s Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks by Zack Hample (Although there may be better books out there, this is the first baseball book I ever read and still my favorite. This is the one I bring out at the beginning of every season to be my baseball watching companion.)
  2. The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
  3. Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  4. Game Time, A Baseball Companion by Roger Angell
  5. The Sports Illustrated Anthology Great Baseball Writing (Although this may be knocked off the list if I ever get a chance to read Baseball: A Literary Anthology)

Every fan will have their favorite books focusing on their own team, and I’m no different. My team is the Boston Red Sox. Now I grew up in the Bay Area, and currently live in the Los Angeles area, so I’m considered a traitor by many of my friends and family. But when I first started learning about baseball (and learning to love baseball) I was watching with and learning from 3 of my closest friends, all whom come from Red Sox country, and who would have killed or disowned me if I had tried to root for another team. Not only that, they told me stories of personal history, team history, victories and disappointments. So if you consider that I was reborn when my life as a fan began, then you could say that I “grew up” with the Red Sox. (Stretching it, I know.) But I don’t care what anyone says, they’re my team, and I love reading books about them in particular:

  1. Now I Can Die In Peace, How ESPN’s Sports Guy found salvation with a little help from Nomar, Pedro, Shawshank and the 2004 Red Sox by Bill Simmons
  2. Red Sox Rule, Terry Francona and Boston’s rise to dominance by Michael Holley
  3. The Teammates by David Halberstam

I’m sure I’ve left out some good ones. I’m even surer that my baseball loving friends who read this blog post will want to put me firmly in my place for my lack of knowledge. So please feel free to comment and tell me what I’ve left out, what your favorites are, or even that you think I’m wrong. I promise I’ll only spit on you if you’re a Yankees fan. 😉
(**Update: I did read Alyssa Milano’s book, and it’s very good. I can recommend it to any baseball fan, male or female; she knows her game, is passionate about it, and includes a lot of great baseball lore.)

One thought on “Five Books for Baseball Lovers (And 3 More If You Like the Right Team)

  1. The members of Red Sox Nation are proud to have you as a member, and those that were born into it are no more legitimate than those who joined more recently — although they may sometimes feel that way because they proved their loyalty through years of suffering. Perhaps worth mentioning in your review of Red Sox literature is John Updike's famous essay "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" and Roger Angell's book "Five Seasons" containing his description of the greatest game ever — game six of the 1975 World Series.

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