Best baseball books
Someone the other day asked me to run a list of my suggested sports books. I did a quick check and realized I was better off compartmentalizing the list. Today, baseball.
The majority of great sports books are baseball-based. Here are the 10 best baseball books I’ve read. Maybe I’ve forgotten a jewel, or something I read 30 years ago and no longer have a copy, but this list is pretty complete:
10. Clemente, by David Maraniss. A superb biography of Roberto Clemente, the great Pittsburgh Pirate and the icon of Puerto Rico.
9. Baseball Managers, by Bill James. As you will soon see, I believe James to be more than the best baseball writer around. I believe him to be the best baseball mind in America. This book analyzes managers in ways that will amaze you.
8. The Armchair Book of Baseball, edited by John Thorn. This anthology has all kinds of great writing, from magazine stories to poems.
7. Babe, by Robert W. Creamer. A no-holding-back biography of Babe Ruth, who lived an adventure matched by few Americans.
6. Ball Four, by Jim Bouton. Forty years later and still packs a punch. You will laugh out loud at Bouton’s irreverant look at the game he loves.
5. Joe DiMaggio: A Hero’s Life, by Richard Ben Cramer. If you never understood DiMaggio’s grip on the America of two or three generations past, you will after reading this. You will also come to believe that the great American hero was the great American jerk.
4. Politics of Glory, by Bill James. A rousing look at the Baseball Hall of Fame. How it works, who belongs in, who doesn’t belong in, how it could be better. Sounds interesting enough, but trust me. It’s more than interesting. It’s fascinating. James’ stories of Junior Stephens, who you probably heard of, and Jerry Priddy, who you probably haven’t, will enthrall you.
3. The Glory of Their Times, by Lawrence Ritter. A simple, simple technique — transcribing the memories of ballplayers from the early days of 20th century baseball — brings the game to life.
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