By Tom Hoffarth
First off, behold a shelf of baseball books above from the magnificent Austin Public Library, on Cesar Chavez Blvd., right along the Colorado River in Austin, Tex.
We were there on business recently and did the tour of this famed book depository to see what it had stocked. Aside from the architectural beauty of it, there was a beauty of a baseball book collection on the sixth floor (learn your Dewey Decimal system, folks … or at least Google it).
Seriously, as cool as Austin is, the library is one of its best secrets.
What’s old is often new in baseball’s annual rite of literary passage each spring. It’s never shy of more rewrites.
To get a clear read on why book publishers put on their straw hat and usher back Major League Baseball with dozens of new titles, note that all sorts of revisionist history, personality-driven essays or bios that exhume new previously untold info resonate best with those who’ve endured a long, cold winter. Same with anything that takes good-natured digs to keep America’s Pastime part of the pop culture conversation.
Our weekly L.A. Times sports media column starts off April 1 without trying to fool anyone: We’ve got some quick-hit reviews on more than a half-dozen new baseball books out this spring (and coming up).
During the entire month of April on FartherOffTheWall.com, we revive our annual baseball book review, one a day, and will update this post with the growing list.
Check out our entrance velocity:
* April 1: “Great American Baseball Stories,” edited by Jeff Silverman; “The Great American Sports Page: A Century of Classic Columns from Ring Lardner to Sally Jenkins,” edited by John Schulian, and “No Place I Would Rather Be: Roger Angell and a Life in Baseball Writing,” by Joe Bonomo
* April 2: “Game Faces: Early Baseball Cards from Library of Congress” by Peter Devereaux and “Baseball Card Vandals: Over 200 Decent Jokes on Worthless Cards!” by brothers Beau and Bryan Abbott of
* April 3: “Now Taking The Field: Baseball’s All Time Dream Teams for All 30 Franchises,” by Tom Stone.
* April 4: “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar, by Jay Paris
* April 5: “Here’s the Pitch: The Amazing, True, New, and Improved Story of Baseball and Advertising,” by Roberta J. Newman
* April 6: “Mrs. Morhard and The Boys: One Mother’s Vision … The First Boys’ Baseball League … A Nation Inspired,” by Ruth Hansford Morhard
* April 7: “Scouting And Scoring: How We Know What We Know About Baseball,” by Christopher J. Phillips
* April 8: “They Bled Blue: Fernandomania, Strike-Season Mayhem, and the Weirdest Championship Baseball Had Ever Seen: The 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers,” by Jason Turnbow (you’ll have to wait until June)
* April 9: “108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game,” by Ron Darling, with Daniel Paisner
* April 10: “K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches,” by Tyler Kepner
* April 11: “Pastime Lost: The Humble, Original and Now Completely Forgotten Game of English Baseball,” by David Block
* April 12: “Strike Four: The Evolution of Baseball” by Richard Hershberger
* April 13: “Unwritten: Bat Flips, the Fun Police and Baseball’s New Future,” by Danny Knobler
* April 14: “Let’s Play Two: The Legend of Mr. Cub, the Life of Ernie Banks” by Ron Rapoport and “Let’s Play Two: The Life and Times of Ernie Banks” by Doug Wilson
* April 15: “Reclaiming 42: Public Memory and the Reframing of Jackie Robinson’s Radical Legacy” by David Naze
A break in between all this to get in some TV exposure via Spectrum News 1’s “L.A. Times Today” show with Lisa McRee:
* April 16: “The Untold Story: Fidel Castro and Baseball” by Peter C. Bjarkman and “Last Seasons in Havana: The Castro Revolution and the End of Professional Baseball in Cuba” by Cesar Brioso
* April 17: “The Game of Eating Smart: Nourishing Recipes for Peak Performance Inspired by MLB Superstars” by Julia Loria and Allen Campbell
* April 18: “Edgar: An Autobiography” by Edgar Martinez, with Larry Stone
* April 19: “Baseball Epic: Famous and Forgotten Lives of the Dead Ball Era” with words and pictures by Jason Novak
* April 20: “They Played The Game: Memories from 47 Major Leaguers” by Norman L. Macht
* April 21: “Ballpark: Baseball in the American City” by Paul Goldberger
* April 22: “Inside the Empire: The True Power Behind the New York Yankees” by Bob Klapish and Paul Solotaroff (along with “Chumps to Champs: How the Worst Teams in Yankees History Led to the ‘90s Dynasty,” by Bill Pennington; “Almost Yankees: The Summer of ’81 and the Greatest Baseball Team You’ve Never Heard Of,” by J. David Herman; “Mantle: The Best There Ever Was,” by Tony Castro; “My Dad, Yogi: A Memoir of Family and Baseball by Dale Berra; and “Doc, Donnie, the Kid, and Billy Brawl: How the 1985 Mets and Yankees Fought for New York’s Baseball Soul” by Chris Donnelly
* April 23: “Ten Innings at Wrigley: The Wildest Ballgame Ever, with Baseball on the Brink” by Kevin Cook
* April 24: “The Legendary Harry Caray: Baseball’s Greatest Salesman” by Don Zmida
* April 25: “They Said It Couldn’t Be Done: The ’69 Mets, New York City, and the Most Astounding Season in Baseball History” by Wayne Coffey; “After the Miracle: The Lasting Brotherhood of the ’69 Mets” by Art Shamsky with Erik Sherman; “Here’s the Catch: A Memoir of the Miracle Mets and More” by Ron Swoboda; “The Miracle of 1969: How the New York Mets Went from Lovable Losers to World Series Champions” by Coutinho Rich
* April 26: “Full Count: The Education of a Pitcher” by David Cone with Jack Curry
* April 27: “Left on Base in the Bush Leagues: Legends, Near Greats and Unknowns in the Minors” by Gaylon H. White
* April 28: “For the Good of the Game: The Inside story of the Surprising and Dramatic Transformation of Major League Baseball” by Bud Selig with Phil Rogers and “Play Hungry: The Making of a Baseball Player” by Pete Rose
* April 29: “When the Crowd Didn’t Roar: How Baseball’s Strangest Game Ever Gave a Broken City Hope” by Kevin Cowherd
* April 30: “Infinite Baseball: Notes from a Philosopher at the Ballpark” by Alva Noe