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Baseball Books

For anyone who has grown up watching star athletes round the bases, our Baseball Books feature will keep you up to date on the latest titles. Each season, reviewer Ron Kaplan compiles recently released baseball books --- from those that harken back to a simpler time and the early glory days, to those that keep up with current players. Ron remarks that the beauty of the sport is that every game provides the opportunity to see something you've never seen before. The same just might happen with these roundups.

2023 Summer Baseball Titles: Tradition and the Bucking Thereof

In their excellent 2006 release, THE BASEBALL UNCYCLOPEDIA: A Highly Opinionated, Myth-Busting Guide to the Great American Game, co-authors Michael Kun and Howard Bloom write:

If you happen to pick this book up in your local bookstore…. Peek over the top of the book and look at the other baseball books on the shelves. Putting aside all the fantasy baseball and statistic-based books, what do you see?

2022 Summer Baseball Titles: Paul O’Neill, Jackie Robinson, Rebels and Keeping Score

Variety of books is the spice of baseball life.

As usual, the new season offers a variety of literary baseball topics, from biographies to histories to statistical analysis and beyond. Here is a sampling of this year’s “crop.”

2021 Spring Baseball Titles: Free Agency, the Players' Strike, the Wild-Card Era, Cool Papa Bell and an Unlikely Friendship

Noted New York Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld has a routine that describes how some people feel about the modern game of baseball:

“Loyalty to any one sports team is pretty hard to justify, because the players are always changing, the team can move to another city. You're actually rooting for the clothes, when you get right down to it…. You are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city. Fans will be so in love with a player, but if he goes to another team, they boo him. This is the same human being in a different shirt; they hate him now.”

Some Call It Progress: Ron Kaplan Reviews Two Books That Look at Baseball Under a New Microscope

One hundred years ago, newspapers were the only way to get information about your favorite baseball stars and teams. Then radio came along and gave fans a new way to enjoy the game. At first, team owners opposed the new medium, fearful that they would lose paying customers. They were shortsighted; the air waves allowed the national pastime to extend far beyond the limits of local travel.

Similar complaints were made when television became widely available. Why would people come out to the ballpark when they could watch for nothing from the comfort of their own homes? Again, shortsighted.

The point of this recap? Old doesn’t mean better, and new isn’t necessarily something to be afraid of.

2019 Summer Baseball Titles: Ernie Banks, Ron Swoboda, David Cone, the Modern Yankees Dynasty, and Baseball's Unwritten Rules

When Ken Griffey Jr. broke into the Majors in 1989, I remember he was called out for having the audacity to wear his cap backwards during pregame activities. “Disrespectful,” tut-tutted the veterans. But Griffey was just having fun, in the same way that today’s players are exuberant in their celebrations.

New York, New York: A Helluva Baseball Town

A lot of New Yorkers think the world revolves around their city. When it comes to baseball books, that’s probably true. More words have been written about their teams than all others combined, and fans can usually count on a number of titles about the Yankees and Mets (with an occasional nod to the Dodgers and Giants of long ago).

This year offers a bonus as we mark the 50th(!) anniversary of the Miracle Mets’ improbable first World Championship.

Two New York Baseball Legends Write Their Memoirs

Keith “Mex” Hernandez and Ron “Gator” Guidry were iconic players for their respective New York teams, the Mets and Yankees. Both must have felt that the time was right to publish their memoirs. The results are a tad underwhelming compared to their All-Star careers.

2018 Spring Baseball Titles: Gehrig and Ruth, the Baby Bombers, that Other New York Team, and More

Like many young boys of my generation, I grew up dreaming of playing professional ball. My friends and I would argue about what kind of careers we were hoping to have. One of us aspired to be a prodigious power hitter, another a standout pitcher. (I wanted to be an all-around solid star; of course, we would all wind up in the Hall of Fame.)

We would read stories about the early heroes of the game, which was in the style of the times and before Jim Bouton turned the sports lit industry on its head with his seminal and profane (for the time) BALL FOUR. These men usually overcame some adversity and, with dedication to their craft, became superstars. And they were great pals, to boot.

2017 Spring Baseball Titles: Two Legendary Managers, the Team that Broke the Curse, and Those Swingin’ A’s

Nostalgia is always a popular topic when it comes to baseball books. This year it seems especially so.

2016 Spring Baseball Titles: John McGraw, Babe Ruth and the '86 Mets

What hath MONEYBALL wrought?

Since 2003, when Michael Lewis published his seminal account of the Oakland Athletics’ embrace of advanced statistical analysis over “gut feeling” in putting a pennant-contending team together, several authors have sought to capitalize on the concept. Recent books consider the efforts of the Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals to incorporate that strategy.

Two new titles, set almost 100 years ago, deal with events and concepts that had similar repercussions back in the day, without all the math.