There are a few statements people can say to me that would make me sad. “I’m not a fan of cupcakes.” “I don’t think puppies are that cute.” “Doctor Who is a horrible show.” But the statement that makes me the saddest: “I find baseball to be boring.”
I know it may sound pretentious to say this but I think so many people who find baseball boring don’t really understand it. On the surface, it may not be as exciting as a football or basketball game. But once you fully understand all the little nuances that occur between each and every single pitch, you start to realize just how beautiful the game of baseball can be.
And it is beautiful. It’s one of the only sports where the word beautiful truly fits as a description. There is something poetic, almost artistic, about baseball. That’s why it’s one of the best sports to read and write about. Whether you enjoy reading about the analysis and science behind sabermetrics or the wear and tear spending almost half the year on the road can have on a person and his relationships, baseball has something for every reader. Here are a few of my favorite baseball books, in no particular order.
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach – This is the baseball book for people who don’t like baseball. This book was fantastic. Even if you’ve never seen a single inning of baseball, you will enjoy it. The book centers around Henry Skrimshander, a baseball star at a small college in Michigan. This book deals with mental illness, family, friendship, affairs, and so much more.
Are We Winning? Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball by Will Leitch – I find it hard to believe that Will Leitch is the creator of the blog Deadspin. His writing seems so much better than that. Then again, Deadspin is nothing like what it once was back when Leitch was the editor. This book is both hilarious and heartfelt.
The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty: The Game, the Team, and the Cost of Greatness by Buster Olney – If you’re a Yankee fan, you’ll enjoy this book as a nostalgic look back at the great Yankee teams of the late 90s. If you hate the Yankees (and let’s face it, there are two types of baseball fans: those who hate the Yankees and those who love the Yankees), you’ll enjoy reading about the inevitable fall of the Yankee Dynasty.
The Natural by Bernard Malamud – Some parts of this book are very far fetched and you may find yourself rolling your eyes. The baseball aspect of it can be a bit much at times but the book itself is great. It’s about an arrogrant, yet talented baseball star who was destined for greatness but at 19-years-old suffers a tragedy. Years later, he is trying to make a comeback but the demons from his past and in his own head are standing in his way.
The Yankee Years by Joe Torre – Ok, I must confess: I am the baseball fan who falls under the category of loving the Yankees. Born and raised in New York, I’ve been going to games at Yankee Stadium since I was five. I really never had a choice. So, as a Yankee fan, I naturally wanted to read this book as soon as it came out. This is an interesting look at not only the Yankees but baseball in general.
For Love of the Game by Michael Shaara – I feel like every book that comes out these days is at least 400 pages. It’s nice to be reminded that you can tell a wonderful, complete story in just a little over 150 pages. (The copy I have is 161 pages.) This book is about baseball legend Billy Chapel pitching one last perfect game.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis – This is the baseball book that every baseball fan has already read. It’s that good. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do so immediately. A book, whose main theme is sabermetrics (all stats and numbers and math!), can turn out to be really boring. Not in the hands of Michael Lewis.
So I know there are definitely a bunch of great books not listed. But this a list of the greatest baseball books I’ve read. What’s your favorite baseball book? Any that aren’t up here?