Here at the The Good Phight, we’re all baseball fans. Yet not only do we write about the game we love, we also read about the game we love. Baseball is the sport that has probably been written about the most. It lends itself to so many storylines that make for good books, it’s almost impossible to have read all of them. With that in mind, I wanted to make this FanPost Friday about books:
What is your favorite baseball book and why?
With the holiday season rapidly approaching, you might be looking for something for that baseball fan in your family that they would enjoy as we begin to enter the deep freeze in winter. Rather than act like Rogers Hornsby and stare outside waiting for spring to arrive, why not take a deep dive into some literature that celebrates the game we love!
Now, in order to get you started, here a few favorites from around the masthead.
From deputy editor, co-host of “The Dirty Inning” podcast, frequent guest of “The Felske Files” and all-around nice guy, Justin Klugh:
I fell into baseball autobiographies when I was a young indoor kid, and got absolutely lost in Cal Ripken's, "The Only Way I Know." That's the only book, or thing, that made me feel like I genuinely, realistically could be a big league ball player if I worked hard enough and never got hurt and always felt like fielding grounders. My diligence and work ethic lasted for maybe part of one week and was derailed when I decided to stay up late with my friend playing Vampire: The Masquerade on PC and skip a morning practice the next day. Brooks Robinson's memoir, "Third Base is My Home," was a stellar follow-up read, but as an adult I read "Crash" by Dick Allen, and that's the one I'm recommending here. Allen's life and baseball journey is a compelling read, and while he's not a very poetic writer, he is direct and unfiltered.
From The Good Phight’s poet laureate and keeper of the gates at the TGP Facebook page, Terry Lynch:
W.P. Kinsella, “Shoeless Joe” - Because it’s better than the movie, which was overwrought with Boomerist daddy guilt and had much, much more about Joe Jackson and J.D. Salinger.
Don Novello, “Pafko at the Wall” - Published initially as a novella, now the first chapter of Underworld. Multi-perspectives on the Shot Heard Round the World.
David Lamb, Stolen Season - Got me absolutely hooked on minor league baseball.
Robert Whiting, Ya Gotta Have Wa - Japan League as cross-cultural study.
Leonard Koppett, The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Baseball - Lots that resonates about many aspects, including the life of a beat writer. Convinced me not to take that path.
From David Cohen, one of our authors here at the The Good Phight and just a real nice guy:
It's shocking to me that any fan sides with owners over players. After all, who chooses billionaires over millionaires? But they do. However, if they read this book and understood the history of baseball's conflict between owners and players, they wouldn't. The players have been systematically abused by owners and management since the game started. This book is a must-read for all fans.
I’d highly recommend this one if your interested in the labor/management side of things.
As far as my favorite, I have several. If you’re a Phillies fan (which...duh), I’d recommend William Kashatus’s book, “Almost a Dynasty”. It’s an account about how the Phillies 1980 World Series winning team was built, from the very beginning to the days after the Wheeze Kids of 1983. Really interesting because it talks about all of the major players on that team and how they came about wearing the maroon pinstripes.
Another is Alan Schwarz’s “The Numbers Game”, which traces the history of baseball statistics all the way back to the beginning, when box scores were in their infancy. I’ve read this book at least three times and have loved it each and every time.
Last, I, like Justin, am really into the players and their stories. Rather than read autobiographies like him, I prefer biographies since they tend to be more accurate than some player waxing poetic about his career. “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty” by Charlie Leerhsen sought to puncture a lot of holes in the arguments against Cobb, such as how much of a racist he was. I’m not going to spoil too much for you, but suffice it to say, that reputation is called into serious question based on actual research done by the author.
That’s it. Those are just a few ideas for our favorite baseball books. In the FanPosts section, be sure to write about your favorite books so that we can all get together and discuss what we like to read. You never know - you might be able to get a great gift idea out of it!