Tag Archives: books

New baseball reads for 2020: A safe place to find book recommendations — 50 and counting

bca420371def8d13bff3052aee412a74By Tom Hoffarth

(Updated 10.9.20)

When will there be good news?

(We’re just looking at the title of the book that “Master of Horror” author Stephen King is reading while attending a game at Fenway Park. … from the guy who wrote “Misery”)

Last spring, our 2020 baseball book review series — 30 baseball book reviews posted during the 30 days of April — went sideways, as did most of life. We decided that we would be springing forward. 

We’d like to alleviate some pandemic misery.

As the reviews continue on fartheroffthewall.com we also update the complete list here.

*Day 1 (March 17): “State of Play: The Old School Guide to New School Baseball,” by Bill Ripken

xe4uGf6Q*Day 2 (March 19): “The Incredible Women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League,” by Anika Orrock

*Day 3 (March 20):  “The Hidden Language of Baseball: How Signs and Sign-Stealing Having Influenced the Course of Our National Pastime,” by Paul Dickson

*Day 4 (March 23): “Buzz Saw: The Improbable Story of How the Washington Nationals Won the World Series,” by Jesse Dougherty

STEALING HOME2*Day 5 (March 24): “Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between,” by Eric Nusbaum

*Day 6 (March 25): “The Cactus League,” by Emily Nemens

*Day 7 (March 26): “The Baseball Book of Why: The Answers to Questions You’ve Always Wondered About from America’s National Pastime,” by the late John C. McCollister

*Day 8 (March 31): “Swing Kings: The Inside Story of Baseball’s Home Run Revolution,” by Jared Diamond

91bQ7s2k28L*Day 9 (April 1): “The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife,” by Brad Balukjian

*Day 10 (April 2): “The Cup of Coffee Club: 11 Players and their Brush with Baseball History,” by Jacob Kornhauser

*Day 11 (April 3): “Sixty-One in ’61: Roger Maris Home Runs Game by Game,” by Robert M. Gorman

*Day 12 (April 6): “Yogi: A Life Behind the Mask,” by Jon Pessah

9781629377964*Day 13 (April 7): “S Is For Slugger: The Ultimate Baseball Alphabet,” by James Littlejohn, illustrated by Matthew Shipley

*Day 14 (April 8): “The Babe,” by SABR, edited by Bill Nowlin and Glen Sparks

*Day 15 (April 9): “Lou Gehrig: The Lost Memoir,” extracted and edited by Alan D. Gaff

*Day 16 (April 12): “Hall of Name: Baseball’s Most Magnificent Monikers from ‘The Only Nolan’ to ‘Van Lingle Mungo’ and More,” by DB Firstman

**Posted on April 13: Our piece for the Sports Business Journal about how the Pandemic Baseball Book Club of authors have bonded to promote their own new publications during this 2020 lock down. (subscription required … and encouraged)

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61f3UEAkZnL*Day 17 (April 14): Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Player” by Jeremy Beer

*Day 18 (April 15): “The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson: The Baseball Legend’s Battle For Civil Rights during World War II” by Lt. Col. Michael Lee Lanning

*Day 19 (April 17): “Future Value: The Battle for Baseball’s Soul and How Teams Will Find the Next Superstar” by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel

*Day 20 (April 19):  “Billy Ball: Billy Martin and the
Resurrection of the Oakland A’s” by Dale Tafoya

81TgstpiOzL*Day 21 (April 21):  “The Inside Game: Bad Calls, Strange Moves, and What Baseball Behavior Teaches Us About Ourselves” by Keith Law, which takes the lead from Daniel Kahneman’s 2011 New York Times’ best-selling book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”

*Day 22 (April 22): “Ballparks Then and Now” by Eric Enders; “Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of all Major League & Negro League Ballparks” by Philip J. Lowery for SABR.

*Day 23 (April 23): “The Official Rules of Baseball Illustrated: An Irreverent Look at the Rules of Baseball and how they Came to be What They Are Today” by David Nemec

819Jk6f27YL*Day 24 (April 24): “24: Life Stories and Lessons from The Say Hey Kid,” by Willie Mays and John Shea

*Day 25 (April 25): “Wits, Flakes, and Clowns:
The Colorful Characters of Baseball” by Wayne Stewart

*Day 26 (April 26): “The Resisters,” a novel by Gish Jen

*Day 27 (April 27): “Summer Baseball Nation: Nine Days in the Wood Bat League” by Will Geoghegan (and Summer9Nation)

*Day 28 (April 28): “Intangibles: Unlocking the Science and Soul of Team Chemistry,” by Joan Ryan

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*Day 29 (April 29):
“One Tough Out: Fighting Off Life’s Curveballs,” by Rod Carew, with Jaime Aron

*Day 30 (April 30): “Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original,” by Mitchell Nathanson

Bonus panels:

9781419740374_s3*Day 31 (May 4): “Issei Baseball: The Story of the
First Japanese American Ballplayers” by Robert K. Fitts

*Day 32 (May 5): “Buddha Takes the Mound:
Enlightenment in 9 innings” by Donald S. Lopez Jr., Ph.D.

*Day 33 (May 11):  “The Final Game at Ebbets Field” by Noel Hynd

*Day 34 (May 18): “A High Five for Glenn Burke,” a middle-school age novel by Phil Bildner

*Day 35 (May 19): “Doc: The Life of Roy Halladay,” by Todd Zolecki

*Day 36 (May 28): “Big Sexy: Bartolo Colon In His Own Words” by Bartolo Colon and Michael Stahl

81LBEOl7yaL*Day 37 (June 5): “A Fan’s Guide to Baseball Analytics: Why WAR, WHIP, wOBA, and Other Advanced Sabermetrics Are Essential to Understanding Modern Baseball” by Anthony Castrovince

*Day 38 (June 13): “Cleveland Rocked: The Personalities, Sluggers and Magic of the 1995 Indians,” by Zack Meisel

*Day 39 (June 14): “The New Baseball Bible: Notes, Nuggets, Lists and Legends From Our National Pastime,” updated, by Dan Schlossberg

*Day 40 (June 15): “Baseball Miscellany: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Baseball,” updated, by Matthew Silverman

IMG_1006*Day 41 (June 20): “Ancient Baseball” by Mikhail Horowitz

*Day 42 (June 22): “Hidden Ball Trick: The Baseball Stats You Never Thought To Look For: Vol 1: 1876-1919 and Vol 2: 1920-1969, by Jeremy Frank and Jim Passon Jr.

*Day 43 (June 23): “I Should Have Quit This Morning: Adventures in Minor League Baseball,” by Kathy Diekroeger

51zTYMhUa0L*Day 44 (June 26): “The Hall Ball: One Fan’s Journey to Unite Cooperstown Immortals with a Single Baseball,” by Ralph Carhart

*Day 45 (July 6): “Tom Seaver and Me,” by Pat Jordan

*Day 46 (July 7): “Extra Innings: Fred Claire’s Journey to City of Hope And Finding a World Championship Team,” by Tim Madigan

*Day 47 (July 9): “Dodgers vs. Yankees: The Long-Standing Rivalry Between Two of Baseball’s Greatest Teams” by Michael Schiavone

*Day 48 (July 14): “Working a ‘Perfect Game’:  Conversations with Umpires” by Bill Nowlin

*Day 49 (July 15): “Inside Pitch: Insiders Reveal How the Ill-Fated Seattle Pilots Got Played into Bankruptcy in One Year,” by Rick Allen

9781629377636*Day 50 (July 16): “The Milwaukee Brewers at 50: Celebrating a Half-Century of Brewers Baseball,” by Adam McCalvy; 
And …
51v5XNSmudL“Turning 50: The Brewers Celebrate a Half-Century in Milwaukee,” by Tom Haudricourt

* Day 51 (July 25): “Baseball in St. Louis: From Little Leagues to Major Leagues,” by Ed Whertley

* Day 52 (July 28): “Queen of the Negro Leagues; Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles,” by James Overmyer

* Day 53 (July 31): “Goodnight Em,” by Johnny Doskow

* Day 54 (Aug. 3): “Mutt’s Dream: Making The Mick,” by Howard Burman

* Day 55 (Aug. 5): “Mr. Met: How a Sports-Mad Kid from Jersey Became Like Family to Generations of Big Leaguers,” by Jay Horwitz

* Day 56 (Sept. 1): “SABR 50 at 50: The Society for American Baseball Research’s Fifth Most Essential Contributions to the Game,” edited by Bill Nowlin

* Day 57 (Sept. 2): “Baseball & Bubble Gum: The 1952 Topps Collection,” by Thomas and Ellen Zappala, with John Molori and Joe Orlando 

* Day 58 (Sept. 21): “A Year of Playing Catch: What A Simple Daily Experiment Taught Me About Life,” by Ethan D. Bryan.

* Day 59 (Sept. 25): “How Baseball Happened: Outrageous Lies Exposed! The True Story Revealed” by Thomas W. Gilbert

* Day 60 (Oct. 9): “Dalko: The Untold Story of Baseball’s Fastest Pitcher,” by Bill Dembski, Alex Thomas and Brian Vinander

Read into this: 30 baseball book reviews in the 30 days of April, ’19 comes with some revisionist history

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.
1280px-Austin_public_library_opened_October_28_2017We 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.
So …
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.

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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:
9781598536126* 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
81H2vsGIA+L* 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
71iNKCsPGeL* 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
81XIRP5mUML* 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
613+BarriSL* 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
91N0IF5NGPL* 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
51biS4hqVaL* 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
91TCtdnavnL* April 23: “Ten Innings at Wrigley: The Wildest Ballgame Ever, with Baseball on the Brink” by Kevin Cook
71e5kd7-O0L* 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
9780190928186_p0_v1_s600x595* 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