Welcome to this week’s Friday Book Roundup. Mr. N here! Spring Training is in full swing, the World Baseball Classic will be starting in a couple weeks and then baseball season. Ahhh, I love this time of year! I have been following baseball since the A’s were a Dynasty in the early 70’s and lovingly remember the Saturday afternoon game of the week. This week, I’m offering my top 10 baseball books to get everyone ready for Opening Day! These are from my personal library and are just a top 10 (although there might be 15 more books tied for 11). Enjoy!
1- Why Time Begins on Opening Day by Thomas Boswell (out of print)
This is one of my favorite baseball books of all time and I read this every year! Tom Boswell weaves together a beautiful collection of the ins and outs of baseball, from the minors to the umpires. Every true baseball fan needs to own this book! ~ Mr. N’s book review on Goodreads
Roger Kahn’s first major league hit, THE BOYS OF SUMMER, was his runaway bestseller that immortalized the 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers. Now Kahn does the same for players whose moment in the sun has not yet arrived.
GOOD ENOUGH TO DREAM is the story of Kahn’s year as owner of the Class A, very minor league, Utica Blue Sox. Most of the Blue Sox never made it to the majors, but they all shared the dream that links the small child in the sandlot with the superstar who has just smacked one out of the stadium. This is a look at baseball unadorned, a game still sweet enough to lure grown men to leagues where first-class transportation was an old school bus and the infield was likely to be the consistency of thick soup. It is a funny and poignant story of one season, and one special team, that will make us hesitate before we ever call anything “bush league” again.
Praise for Roger Kahn:
“As a kid, I loved sports first and writing second, and loved everything Roger Kahn wrote. As an adult, I love writing first and sports second, and love Roger Kahn even more.” —Pulitzer Prize winner, David Maraniss
“He can epitomize a player with a single swing of the pen.” —TIME magazine
“Roger Kahn is the best baseball writer in the business.” —Stephen Jay Gould, New York Review of Books
“Kahn has the almost unfair gift of easy, graceful writing.” —BOSTON HERALD
Where do I start? If you have read, devoured and lived the first edition you will go nuts with this one too! There can be no higher praise about a guidebook then ‘I don’t believe anyone should take a trip to a ballpark without first checking out this book’. The information provided is invaluable. This book tells you how to get a park, where to park a car, where to sit, where NOT to sit, what to eat and what NOT to eat – in the park and in the neighborhood. The witty and easy going style of the two authors make the book such a fun read. I had to stop constantly to share tidbits from each city’s visit with my husband. A must own and read for someone planning a road trip to a baseball park. A must own and read for someone who is a baseball fan. I personally can’t wait for the 3rd edition. A spectacular 5 star book. ~Mr. N’s Goodreads review
Writing with Chicago Tribune sports columnist Verdi, Harry Caray recaps his decades in the booth, paying special attention to the owners he has dealt with, particularly Gussie Busch, Charley Finley and Bill Veeck. He also explains his philosophy of success in the booth, which is to think of himself primarily as a fan explaining the game to his fellow fans and pointing out players’ failures as well as strengths. In this memoir, he recalls players he has admired, beginning with his all-time favorite, Stan Musial, and including Reggie Jackson, Richie Allen, and Ryne Sandberg.
Our captain and leader has not left us, today, tomorrow, this year, next … Our endeavors will reflect our love and admiration for him.”
—Honorary plaque to Munson in Yankee Stadium
Thurman Munson is remembered by fans as the fiercely competitive, tough, and—most of all—inspiring Yankee captain and champion from the wild Bronx Zoo years. He is also remembered for his tragic death, at age thirty-two, when the private plane he was piloting crashed in Canton, Ohio, on August 2, 1979.
Munson is the intimate biography of a complex and larger-than-life legend. Written by former Yankees public relations director Marty Appel, who worked closely with Thurman throughout his career, Munson captures the little-known details of the young man from Canton and his meteoric rise to stardom in baseball’s most storied franchise. Appel examines the tumultuous childhood that led Thurman to work feverishly to escape Canton—and also the marriage and cultural roots that continually drew him back.
Appel also opens a fascinating door on the famed Yankees of the 1970s, recounting moments and stories that have never been told before. From the clubhouse and the dugout to the front office and the owner’s box, this thoughtful baseball biography delves into the affectionately gruff captain’s relationships with friends, fans, and teammates such as Lou Piniella, Bobby Murcer, Graig Nettles, and Reggie Jackson, as well as his colorful dealings with manager Billy Martin and his surprisingly close bond with owner George Steinbrenner. Munson paints a revealing portrait of a private Yankee superstar, as well as a nostalgic and revelatory look at the culture—and amazing highs and lows—of the 1970s New York Yankees teams. More than a biography, Munson is the definitive account of a champion who has not been forgotten and of the era he helped define—written with the intimate detail available only to a true insider.
6- If at First: A Season with the Mets by Keith Hernandez (out of print)
This is a great book for the die-hard Mets fan actually for the die-hard baseball fan. For the Mets fan, a lot of inside dirt on the 1986 championship Mets team. For the baseball fan, there is a lot of fine detail of the kind of little things that go unnoticed by the casual fan, that win and lose baseball games.
A fan’s notes for the ages, Faithful grew from an email exchange last summer. Filled with the heady mix of exhilaration and frustration familiar to all Boston Red Sox fans, Stewart O’Nan fired off a note to fellow Sox fan, Stephen King, who responded with his thoughts on Pedro, Nomar, Manny, Mueller, and Theo. From the supposed Curse of the Bambino to f###in’ Bucky Dent to the recent off-season battle for Alex Rodriguez, Sox fans have seen it all since 1918…except for that elusive World Championship. Baseball history has transformed these fans into a “nation” — not to mention the most dedicated, knowledgeable fanbase on the planet. Stewart O’Nan and Stephen King, proud members of Red Sox Nation, will chronicle the 2004 baseball season from spring training to the last game of the season — the important plays, the controversial managerial decisions, the significant front office moves, and the spectacular finish (whether heartbreaking or joyous). Attending games together, keeping a running diary of observations and arguments, and occasionally evoking great or tragic events in Red Sox history. King and O’Nan will cheer on their beloved team with the eternal hope that this just might be the year. If you don’t have season ticket box seats right behind the firstbase dugout, you can’t beat Faithful.
8- Tomorrow I’ll Be Perfect by Dave Stieb (out of print)
Dave Steib is one of the best and most controversial pitchers in the American League. Tomorrow I’ll Be Perfect is his story, with his views on life in the major leagues, from pitching and hitting, winning and losing, to agents, salaries and the pressure of playing for major stakes. A must read!
Carl writes, “For twenty-three straight seasons – from 1961 to 1983 – I wore a Red Sox Uniform. My years were really the wonder years, encompassing generations of change in the game, the people, even the country. My link went back to the 1930s and up to the 1990s: I shared a locker room with Ted Williams, with Jim Rice and Fred Lynn, with Wade Boggs…
10- The Artful Dodger by Tommy Lasorda, David Fisher (out of print)
“Cut me open and I will bleed Dodger blue.” ~ Tommy Lasorda
You think you know Tommy Lasorda? You haven’t until you’ve read this book. In Tommy’s own words, he tells you his own American success story, from pitching left-hand in the minors to becoming one of the most beloved (and hated) controversial managers in major league history. A must read for any baseball fan. ~Mrs. N’s Goodreads review
What’s your favorite baseball book? Share in the comments below.
MRS N, Book Addict