Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Favorite Baseball Books

Mickey Mantle rounds third after homering in the '64 World Series 
Here's a list of some of my favorite nonfiction baseball books, in no particular order. Also I'm probably forgetting some, so I may need to update this list in the future:

The Teammates
I like how Halberstam balances the past and present here, telling two different but interconnected stories of the relationship between Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio. He covers the familiar ground of their time as teammates quite well, but it is his re-telling of their modern relationship and reunion that makes this read special.

Summer of '49
Superb tale of two amazingly talented teams and their epic war for the pennant. Postwar America and the baseball of that time was very different (train travel, games on the radio, fledgling integration) but Halberstam wonderfully recalls all of it.

October 1964
1964 was a time of great change in America and in baseball, which Halberstam masterfully encapsulates with his re-telling of the gripping '64 Fall Classic between the Yankees and Cardinals. The juxtaposition of the aging, white Yankees dynasty and the emerging, fully integrated Cardinals squad embodies the shifting demographics of the game at that time. Baseball would never be the same, and Halberstam gracefully brings this watershed moment to life.

The Last Boy
The best baseball biography I've ever read. Jane Leavy's thoroughly researched portrait of Mickey Mantle captures him as he really was; a humorous and charming but deeply flawed man who also happened to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

Emperors and Idiots
For my money, the best book on the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. Mike Vaccaro does a great job of bringing history to life here with his vivid writing style and language that pops off the page.

The Yankee Years
I used to be a big Tom Verducci guy, and I have to say he really knocked it out of the park with this one. Co-authored by Joe Torre, it's an eye-opening read about the famed Yankee skipper's tumultuous tenure at the helm. Let's put it this way; you'll be glad you're not managing the Yanks or answering to George Steinbrenner after reading this one.

Kostya Kennedy's incredible journey through Joe DiMaggio's legendary 56 game hitting streak. Expertly takes the reader back to that time and place as well as inside Joe D's head. I learned a lot about the hardships he faced during the streak as well as more intimate details about his personal life.

Loved this book. I learned so much about the Brooklyn Dodgers dynasty of the late 1940s and early '50s. Very cool oral history that lets the players bring their stories to life.

The Greatest Game
Great in-depth look at the 1978 playoff tie-breaker game between the Red Sox and Yankees.

Mickey and Willie
Explores the parallel lives of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, regarded by many as the two greatest center fielders of all-time. They both played in New York during the 1950s and twice met in the World Series.

Now I Can Die in Peace
Gotta love Bill Simmons. Too bad he hardly ever writes about baseball anymore/

The Victory Season
Very much a modern Summer of '49, except for the 1946 baseball season. It was an exciting time to be a baseball fan with the game's greatest stars back from the war, and Weintraub makes those feelings palpable.

Great book. Great movie. A must-read about Billy Beane and the 2002 Oakland A's.

1 comment:

  1. "My greatest day in baseball". 47 recollections of single games as told to John P. Carmichael by the likes of the Babe, Dizzy Dean, Ty Cobb and many more. An incredible book replete with old timey box scores.