Poetic and traditional in its own right, it's no suprise that the sport of baseball has been the topic behind classic literature. Much more than any other American sport in history. But, what are the best baseball books that every fan should read? Reading is a great way to unwind and relieve some tension. But, it's way better when that book pertains to America's pastime. These are the five books that JustBats recommend every baseball fan should read, in no particular order:
NPR once released an interview with Jim Bouton stating that Ball Four was the book that changed baseball. This book pulls the curtain back and gives readers an insider's expose on the intricacies that go on behind-the-scenes in the game of baseball. It is said that this book broke the code of silence for the brotherhood of baseball players, managers, and coaches. Many people, such as former Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, were furious over the book and considered Bouton a traitor. Friendships, rivalries, affairs, and even drug use are all laid out on the table with nothing held back. Ball Four doesn’t put professional players on a pedestal like most baseball novels, but it is still a fantastic read that had a huge impact on the coverage of baseball.
To most people, Moneyball is the 2011 film featuring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. But, in actuality, Moneyball is the ground-breaking book that highlights the Oakland Athletics' 2002 season when they won a record 20 consecutive games and details how they managed to do so with the league’s smallest player payroll. The success of the then general manager, Billy Beane, is attributed to his use of statistics to assess and trade for underappreciated players; a model (sabermetrics) that has since been adopted by many MLB teams. Lewis provides readers with a behind-the-scenes pass to the day-to-day activities of a Major League baseball team through fascinating stories and unprecedented tales.
Widely acclaimed as one of the classics in baseball book history, The Glory of Their Times is one of the most thorough and detail oriented books of the 20th century. Ritter, a Columbia University professor at the time, made it his mission in life to travel the U.S. and interview as many aging ballplayers as possible. Between 1962 and 1966, Lawrence interviewed 26 players, including Hall of Famers such as Sam Crawford and Hank Greenberg. The result of these interviews turned into an oral history for America’s pastime. Many reporters have tried to imitate what Lawrence Ritter did back in the ‘60s, but the success of The Glory of Their Times has since to be replicated.
Named after a famous poem, The Boys of Summer is a book about being in the right place at the right time. Kahn used his time as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune to cover and track the lives of the 1950's Brooklyn Dodgers. Some of the players highlighted throughout this masterpiece include Jackie Robinson, PeeWee Reese, and Roy Campanella. This beautifully written work of literary art not only discusses the baseball aspect of these gentlemen, but it includes what their life was like after the fact. Tragedy and triumph are displayed through Kahn’s humor and wit in this classic history of baseball.
Helyar's book is about the economics of baseball. To most, that may sound a tad mundane, but it is far from it. John Helyar goes into great detail about the labor relations of MLB, the origins of free agency, the Reserve Clause, and how the Player’s Association fought to overturn the Reserve Clause. The Lords of the Realm is overflowing with narration from players, owners, and agents that provide an insightful account on the history of player’s rights up until the 1994 strike. Anyone with a love for the game of baseball should know why this happened and how the disagreement on labor relations will always threaten the great sport of baseball.
There are many fantastic baseball books that were not discussed. So, what is your favorite baseball book? Please share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below or calling our Bat Experts at (866) 321-2287. Remember, if you have any baseball bat or softball bat related questions, we are here for you from click to hit!