Spring is here and if you haven’t already treated your ears to the crack of a bat or the slap of a mitt, there’s plenty of time to do so. There are also plenty of amazing brand new books about America’s favorite pastime. So for your reading pleasure, here’s a whole slew of interesting baseball books to put you in the right mood for the season.
Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family by Bret Boone and Kevin Cook
The slugging second baseman for the Seattle Mariners best remembered during their epic 2001 season collaborates with author Cook on his own memoir. As it turns out, Boone was the first third-generation player in major league baseball after his grandfather Ray and father, Bob. Of course, those guys both won a World Series. Bret and his brother Aaron? They each lost a World Series. Ouch. Boone doesn’t hold back and this book discusses everything from his height to his take on steroids.
Greatness in the Shadows: Larry Doby and the Integration of the American League by Douglas M. Branson
Two books this season look at players that came just after Jackie Robinison broke the color barrier but are almost completely forgotten. Larry Doby (1923–2003) became the American League’s first black player only a couple months after Jackie Robinson entered the National League. Relatively reserved, Doby didn’t demand the spotlight and that might explain why he hasn’t gotten much recognition.
God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen by Mitchell Nathanson
Like Larry Doby, Dick Allen isn’t as big a name as he might be. In 1947 the Philadelphia Phillies became the last National League team to desegregate.Their first black player? Dick Allen (b. 1942) who hit frequent home runs out of the park. So why isn’t he better known? Apparently the athlete’s attitude and behavior, as portrayed in the press, produced a public image that was hard to shake. A fascinating read.
Dodgerland: Decadent Los Angeles and the 1977-78 Dodgers by Michael Fallon
The Dodgers’ 1977-1978 seasons, both of which resulted in World Series losses, are the focus of this particular book. Remembering the triumph and heartbreak for the team’s fans in Los Angeles, the author recounts not just the games but 1970s southern California culture as well. Look for baseball segments called by Library Journal, “sharp and detailed, taking readers back to that era.”
Ahead of the Curve: Inside the Baseball Revolution by Brian Kenney
Hope you like sabermetrics, because this book is ah-swimming in them. Using statistical analysis to interpret baseball records and player performance, the author discusses pitcher wins as a category, starting and bullpen pitcher usage, and the uselessness of the bunt and batting average. It’s pretty entertaining but if the ideas of no longer classifying pitchers as “starters” or “closers,” and placing a greater emphasis on defensive stats strike fear in your heart then this is not the book for you.
The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller
And speaking of statistics, in this book former Baseball Prospectus editor in chief Lindbergh teams with Miller, current Baseball Prospectus editor in chief and coauthor of Baseball Prospectus 2016, to share what happened when they convinced the owners of the independent Sonoma Stompers to allow them to handle daily operations. The experiment? To determine whether sabermetrics (there’s that word again) could create a championship team. So what happened? Better read the book.
The Baseball Whisperer: A Small-town Coach Who Shaped Big League Dreams by Michael Tackett
Since the 1960s, an amateur summer baseball team run by Merl Eberly and his wife, Pat, produced over three-dozen future major leaguers under manager Eberly. He never took a salary and many players who trained under him remained in contact with him until his death. If you need a book about the affirmative side of sports, this is the one for you.
Coming to the Evanston Public Library soon!