The baseball world was shaken up Thursday with the postponement of the 2020 MLB season due to the outbreak of coronavirus. MLB joined all of the other major-sports leagues in taking these precautions, leaving fans with a lot of downtime on their hands. Some will spend that time playing the newly released MLB: The Show 20. Others who may not be the biggest video-game players may turn to baseball books to fill the void.
One of the beautiful aspects of baseball comes from the abundant level of content present to write about. Everything from recapping noteworthy careers and seasons, building on the lore of legends, or discussing strategy and mechanics is on the table for authors to write.
Only the Ball Was White by Robert Peterson
Robert Peterson takes a deep dive into the history of the Negro Leagues in this book. The book looks at legendary black baseball players and all-black professional teams. It tells the forgotten story of black-baseball players that were excluded from MLB, and Petterson brings a time period of baseball to life that spans from post-Civil War until Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947.
The roughly-150-page appendix includes standings, box scores, and an all-time register of players and officials.
Full Count by David Cone and Jack Curry
David Cone and Jack Curry crafted not just a story about Cone’s career, but an insight to his mind from his childhood through the end of his career. Each chapter is designated to a different part of his career, told chronologically. Additionally, it elaborates on stories about his career and his development and education as a pitcher, both mechanically and mentally.
Along the way, the reader learns about everything from Cone’s mistakes as a young pitcher to his dominating opposing batters over a 17-year career.
Game of Shadows by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams
While baseball is overcoming the recent scandal involving the Houston Astros, this story book explores the the scandal that rocked the late-1990s and early-2000s. The book is a runaway #1 National Bestseller that discusses BALCO and the steroid scandal that changed the course of baseball history.
The story revolves around Victor Conte, the founder of BALCO, but it also contains a separate thread on Barry Bonds‘ turn to performance-enhancing drugs.
Mickey Mantle: The Last Boy and the Death of America’s Childhood by Jane Leavy
This national bestseller takes the reader in depth through the life of Mickey Mantle. It touches on everything from his childhood and family to his on-and-off-the field lives as a player to his stint in rehab.
The book is a unique biography that does more than paint a picture of Mantle’s life. It explores the life of a boy that never grew up and serves as an investigation of a memory. Additionally, it’s recognized as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a Time Magazine Top Ten Book of the Year.
Moneyball by Michael Lewis
Lewis’s book inspired the popular movie with the same name. It focuses on the Oakland A’s, and their analytical approach to building a baseball team. At the time, these methods were unprecedented by MLB front offices.
In 2020, a lot of these methods are more commonplace, ans Lewis takes readers through the year and the general manager. Billy Beane, that broke through that barrier. The book is considered a classic of the baseball genre.
K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches by Tyler Kepner
Kepner’s story gives a unique perspective on the history of baseball. He divides the book into ten sections, and each represents a different pitch. In the process, he brings readers inside the minds of baseball combatants, separated by sixty feet, six inches. The book includes perspective from 22 Hall-of-Fame pitchers.
Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius by Bill Pennington
This book is a New York Times bestseller. It discusses one of the most intriguing and misundestood figures in the history of MLB. Pennington discusses Billy Martin‘s childhood, his playing career, and his sixteen years as a manager. Pennington provides an coolorful story about a larger-than-life figure.
The New York Times says, “Bill Pennington gives long-overdue flesh to the caricature…Pennington savors the dirt-kicking spectacles without losing sight of the man.”
The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs by Bill Jenkinson
There have been countless biographies written about Babe Ruth, but this book is not one of them. It takes an unprecedented look at Ruth’s power, and it inspires debate about about his 1921 season.
Jenkinson compiled 20 years of research in order to write this book. The result is drawing conclusions that are simply astonishing about the already-legendary baseball player.
Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella
Kinsella’s fiction novel about a man who carves a baseball diamond into his corn field led to the creation of the movie Field of Dreams. The book provides a nostalgic look at the game of baseball. Additionally, it tells a story of fathers and sons, love and family, and the joy of finding a way home.
Five Seasons: A Baseball Companion by Roger Angell
The five seasons spanning 1972-1976 are considered, “the most significant half decade in the history of the game.” It featured many historic accomplishments from Hall of Fame players and one of the greatest World Series ever played.
Angell embarks on many ventures in this book. He attends a high school game in Kentucky and meets with a trio of Tiger-obsessed fans among others. The book is a gem for any baseball fan.
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