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20 Best Baseball Books

Best Baseball Books

The National Baseball Hall of Fame Collection: Celebrating the Game's Greatest Players by James Buckley and Cal Ripken Jr.

Officially licensed, The National Baseball Hall of Fame Collection gathers biographies, statistics, and photos of over 175 members of the most exclusive club in the sport, all in one beautiful book every baseball fan should own.

Separated into chapters by positionThe National Baseball Hall of Fame Collection highlights the best and the most memorable playerseventschampionshipsmoments, and more. Meet the greats of the game from before you were born and relive the memories that you shared with your diamond heroes of recent years. The text is updated through the 2020 Hall of Fame elections, with Derek Jeter and Larry Walker joining their fellow inductees in a book that features:

  • Profiles of more than 175 legendary Hall of Famers
  • Photo explorations into rare memorabilia, including replica tickets, scouting reports, scorecards, and contracts
  • Notable awards, records, stats, and a complete list of over 300 Hall of Fame members
  • Full-color photos and informative sidebars throughout

Cloudbuster Nine: The Untold Story of Ted Williams and the Baseball Team That Helped Win World War II by Anne R. Keene

In 1943, while the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals were winning pennants and meeting in that year’s World Series, one of the nation’s strongest baseball teams practiced on a skinned-out college field in the heart of North Carolina. Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, and Johnny Sain were among a cadre of fighter-pilot cadets who wore the Cloudbuster Nine baseball jersey at an elite Navy training school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In this spirited Field of Dreams-like father-daughter account, author Anne R. Keene opens with a story about her father, Jim Raugh, who suited up as the team batboy and mascot. He got to know his baseball heroes personally, watching players hit the road on cramped, tin-can buses, dazzling factory workers, kids, and service members at dozens of games, including a war-bond exhibition against Babe Ruth’s team at Yankee Stadium.

The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told: Thirty Unforgettable Tales from the Diamond by Jeff Silverman

At a 1931 barnstorming exhibition game in Tennessee, a seventeen-year-old pitcher for the Chattanooga Lookouts struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back to back. Her name was Jackie Mitchell–“organized baseball’s first girl pitcher.” On September 9, 1965, Sandy Koufax made baseball history by pitching his fourth perfect game. In July 1970, a stripper rushed onto the field at Riverfront Stadium to kiss Johnny Bench, temporarily disrupting a game attended by President Nixon and his family. These are just some of the great, quirky, and comic moments in the annals of baseball recorded in THE GREATEST BASEBALL STORIES EVER TOLD. Here also are profiles of such legendary figures as Joe DiMaggio, Pete Rose, and Yogi Berra, essays that explore the complexities and pleasures of the game, even an excerpt from the movie Bull Durham. This is the perfect book for anyone who has ever played so much as a game of catch.

The Story of Baseball: In 100 Photographs by The Editors of Sports Illustrated

Through 100 Evocative, often stunning photographs, as well as the stories that accompany them, Sports Illustrated visits the great arc of baseball, America’s past time.
From the dawn of the professional era, through the days of Babe Ruth, the westward expansion and the thrilling championships of today, baseball’s rich and remarkable history is here. Inspiring events such as Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color barrier, Lou Gehrig’s Luckiest Man speech and one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott’s 1993 no-hitter live in a continuum with stirring photos of the game’s most beloved and largest personalities such as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Cal Ripken Jr., Bryce Harper and many more. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’s unmatched storytelling is in high form in a book that renders exquisite anecdotes, and explores baseball’s cultural heritage and uniquely American character, all in unforgettable style.

How Baseball Happened: Outrageous Lies Exposed! The True Story Revealed by Thomas W. Gilbert, George Newbern

The fascinating, true origin story of baseball – how America’s first great sport developed and how it conquered a nation.

Baseball’s true founders don’t have plaques in Cooperstown. The founders were the hundreds of uncredited amateurs – ordinary people – who played without gloves, facemasks, or performance incentives in the middle decades of the 19th century. Unlike today’s pro athletes, they lived full lives outside of sports. They worked, built businesses, and fought against the South in the Civil War.

But that’s not the way the story has been told. The wrongness of baseball history can be staggering. You may have heard that Abner Doubleday or Alexander Cartwright invented baseball. Neither did. You may have been told that a club called the Knickerbockers played the first baseball game in 1846. They didn’t. You have read that baseball’s color line was uncrossed and unchallenged until Jackie Robinson in 1947. Nope. You may have heard Cooperstown, Hoboken, or New York City called the birthplace of baseball, but not Brooklyn. Yet Brooklyn was the home of baseball’s first fans, the first ballpark, the first statistics – and modern pitching.

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War Fever: Boston, Baseball, and America in the Shadow of the Great War by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith

In the fall of 1918, a fever gripped Boston. The streets emptied as paranoia about the deadly Spanish flu spread. Newspapermen and vigilante investigators aggressively sought to discredit anyone who looked or sounded German. And as the war raged on, the enemy seemed to be lurking everywhere: prowling in submarines off the coast of Cape Cod, arriving on passenger ships in the harbor, or disguised as the radical lecturing workers about the injustice of a sixty-hour workweek.
 

War Fever explores this delirious moment in American history through the stories of three men: Karl Muck, the German conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, accused of being an enemy spy; Charles Whittlesey, a Harvard law graduate who became an unlikely hero in Europe; and the most famous baseball player of all time, Babe Ruth, poised to revolutionize the game he loved. Together, they offer a gripping narrative of America at war and American culture in upheaval.

The Baseball Book of Why: The Answers to Questions You've Always Wondered about from America's National Pastime by John McCollister

Why do we sometimes refer to a left-handed pitcher as a “southpaw?” Why are major league pitchers normally limited to 100 pitches per game? Why was Jack Roosevelt Robinson the first African-American ever to play as part of an official lineup for a team in Major League Baseball? Why is a baseball field sometimes referred to as a diamond?

This book provides over 100 questions and detailed answers concerning the traditions, rules, and history of the national pastime. Organized by the sport’s five eras—Dead Ball, Live Ball, Golden Age, Expansion, and Steroid Era—it answers questions about hitting, pitching, fielding, base running, managing, scouting and ownership that vex even the most ardent fans of the game. Moreover, this book is an appreciation of how baseball’s traditions began.

A Fan's Guide to Baseball Analytics: Why WAR, WHIP, wOBA, and Other Advanced Sabermetrics Are Essential to Understanding Modern Baseball by Anthony Castrovince


In A Fan’s Guide to Baseball Analytics, MLB.com reporter and columnist Anthony Castrovince has taken on the role as explainer to help such fans understand why the old stats don’t always add up. Readers will also learn where these modern stats came from, what they convey, and how to use them to evaluate players of the present, past, and future. 

For instance, what if we told you that when Joe DiMaggio had his famous 56-game hitting streak in 1941, helping him win the AL MVP, that there was, perhaps, someone more deserving? In fact, the great Ted Williams actually had a higher fWAR, bWAR, wRC+, OPS, OPS+, ISO, RC . . . well, you get the picture. So, streak or no streak, Williams should have been league MVP.

Tom Seaver: A Terrific Life by Bill Madden

He was called Tom Terrific for a reason. Tom Seaver was one of the most talented and popular players in the history of baseball. He is one of only two pitchers with 300 wins, 3,000 strikeouts, and an ERA under 3.00. He was a three-time Cy Young award winner, twelve-time All Star, and was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame with the highest percentage ever at the time. Popular among players and fans, Seaver was fiercely competitive but always put team success ahead of personal glory.

Born in Fresno, California, Seaver signed with the New York Mets in 1967, leading them to their stunning 1969 World Series victory. After a legendarily lopsided trade, he joined the Cincinnati Reds, then later played for the White Sox and the Red Sox before ending his career following the 1986 season. After his playing days, Seaver retired back to California to establish a successful vineyard. Then in 2013, a recurrence of Lyme disease severely affected his memory, which Madden was the first to report. In 2019 Seaver’s family announced that he had been diagnosed with dementia and was withdrawing from public life.

Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between by Eric Nusbaum

A story about baseball, family, the American Dream, and the fight to turn Los Angeles into a big league city.

 
Dodger Stadium is an American icon. But the story of how it came to be goes far beyond baseball. The hills that cradle the stadium were once home to three vibrant Mexican American communities. In the early 1950s, those communities were condemned to make way for a utopian public housing project. Then, in a remarkable turn, public housing in the city was defeated amidst a Red Scare conspiracy.
 
Instead of getting their homes back, the remaining residents saw the city sell their land to Walter O’Malley, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Now LA would be getting a different sort of utopian fantasy — a glittering, ultra-modern stadium.
 
But before Dodger Stadium could be built, the city would have to face down the neighborhood’s families — including one, the Aréchigas, who refused to yield their home. The ensuing confrontation captivated the nation – and the divisive outcome still echoes through Los Angeles today.
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Baseball Biographies for Kids: The Greatest Players from the 1960s to Today (Biographies of Today’s Best Players) by Dean Burrell

Grand slam! Inspiring baseball biographies for young fans ages 9 to 12

It’s the bottom of the ninth, bases are loaded, and your team is down by three―who do you want coming up to bat? Baseball Biographies for Kids answers this question and more!

Bursting with statistics and impressive feats from the greatest players of the last 60 years, this lineup of inspirational baseball biographies shows you what it takes to be a real MVP. Discover the ultimate dream team as you explore the best pros for each position. You’ll also get quick looks into some truly legendary baseball players and lots of fun facts!

Baseball Biographies for Kids includes:

  • Modern stars, real stories―From Cal Ripken Jr. to David Ortiz, you’ll discover the players who truly defined the game.
  • Tons of stats―Each biography includes critical info, including games played, ERA, hits, and more.
  • Draft your own all-star team―Fill out the included starting lineup sheet with your picks for each position.

The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife by Brad Balukjian

Is there life after baseball? Starting from this simple question, The Wax Pack ends up with something much bigger and unexpected—a meditation on the loss of innocence and the gift of impermanence, for both Brad Balukjian and the former ballplayers he tracked down. To get a truly random sample of players, Balukjian followed this wildly absurd but fun-as-hell premise: he took a single pack of baseball cards from 1986 (the first year he collected cards), opened it, chewed the nearly thirty-year-old gum inside, gagged, and then embarked on a quest to find all the players in the pack. Absurd, maybe, but true. He took this trip solo in the summer of 2015, spanning 11,341 miles through thirty states in forty-eight days.

The Baseball Maniac's Almanac: The Absolutely, Positively, and Without Question Greatest Book of Facts, Figures, and Astonishing Lists Ever Compiled by Ken Samelson and Bert Randolph Sugar

Part reference, part trivia, part brain teaser, and absolutely the most unusual and thorough compendium of baseball stats and facts ever assembled—all verified for accuracy by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

First created by legendary sportswriter Bert Randolph Sugar, and now updated, here are thousands of fascinating lists, tables, data, and stimulating facts. Inside, you’ll find all of the big name baseball heroes like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, Pete Rose, Denny McLain, Ty Cobb, and a lot of information that will be new to even the most devoted fans:

  • Highest batting averages not to win batting titles
  • Home-run leaders by state of birth
  • Players on last-place teams leading the league in RBIs, by season
  • Most triples by position, season
  • Winners of two “legs” of triple crown since last winner
  • Oldest pitchers with losing record, leading league in ERA
  • Career pitching leaders under six feet tall
  • Managers replaced wile team was in first place
  • Hall of Famers whose sons played in the majors
  • Players with palindromic surnames
  • And so much more!

Everything I Know I Learned from Baseball by Philip Theibert

EVERYTHING I KNOW I LEARNED FROM BASEBALL is a collection of inspiring and amusing life lessons drawn from the baseball and softball diamonds. The author, a third-generation baseball coach, creates a “Life Strategies Lineup,” with nine keys to finding success and happiness: ATTITUDE, PREPARATION, FOCUS, CHARACTER, DISCIPLINE, COOPERATION, COURAGE, GROWTH, INDEPENDENCE. The book also includes over 40 inspirational quotes from well-known baseball personalities and others.

Perfect for coaches, baseball moms and dads, and young adults who want to get back to what is really important about the game that means so much to them – good sportsmanship, doing one’s best, cooperation, and teamwork. The parallels between life and baseball are clear to those who enjoy the game, and this book uses the fundamentals of good baseball and softball to help ballplayers and parents map out a path towards success and happiness both on the field, and more importantly, at school, at the job, and at home and in relationships.

K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches by Tyler Kepner

The baseball is an amazing plaything. We can grip it and hold it so many different ways, and even the slightest calibration can turn an ordinary pitch into a weapon to thwart the greatest hitters in the world. Each pitch has its own history, evolving through the decades as the masters pass it down to the next generation. From the earliest days of the game, when Candy Cummings dreamed up the curveball while flinging clamshells on a Brooklyn beach, pitchers have never stopped innovating.

     In K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches, Tyler Kepner traces the colorful stories and fascinating folklore behind the ten major pitches. Each chapter highlights a different pitch, from the blazing fastball to the fluttering knuckleball to the slippery spitball. Infusing every page with infectious passion for the game, Kepner brings readers inside the minds of combatants sixty feet, six inches apart.

     Filled with priceless insights from many of the best pitchers in baseball history–from Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, and Nolan Ryan to Greg Maddux, Mariano Rivera, and Clayton Kershaw–K will be the definitive book on pitching and join such works as The Glory of Their Times and Moneyball as a classic of the genre.

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The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance by H.A. Dorfman , Karl Kuehl

In this book, authors H.A. Dorfman and Karl Kuehl present their practical and proven strategy for developing the mental skills needed to achieve peak performance at every level of the game.The theory and applications are illustrated by anecdotes and insights from major and minor league players, who at some point discovered the importance of mastering the inner game in order to play baseball as it should be played. Intended for players, managers, coaches, agents, and administrators as well as fans who want a more in-depth look at the makeup of the complete baseball player.

Buzz Saw: The Improbable Story of How the Washington Nationals Won t

The remarkable story of the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals told by the Washington Post writer who followed the team most closely.

By May 2019, the Washington Nationals—owners of baseball’s oldest roster—had one of the worst records in the majors and just a 1.5 percent chance of winning the World Series. Yet by blending an old-school brand of baseball with modern analytics, they managed to sneak into the playoffs and put together the most unlikely postseason run in baseball history. Not only did they beat the Houston Astros, the team with the best regular-season record, to claim the franchise’s first championship—they won all four games in Houston, making them the first club to ever win four road games in a World Series.

“You have a great year, and you can run into a buzz saw,” Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg told Washington Post beat writer Jesse Dougherty after the team advanced to the World Series. “Maybe this year we’re the buzz saw.” Dougherty followed the Nationals more closely than any other writer in America, and in Buzz Saw he recounts the dramatic year in vivid detail, taking readers inside the dugout, the clubhouse, the front office, and ultimately the championship parade.

The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players by Ben Lindbergh, Travis Sawchik

Move over, Moneyball – a cutting-edge look at major league baseball’s next revolution: the high-tech quest to build better players. 

As best-selling authors Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik reveal in The MVP Machine, the Moneyball era is over. Fifteen years after Michael Lewis brought the Oakland Athletics’ groundbreaking team-building strategies to light, every front office takes a data-driven approach to evaluating players, and the league’s smarter teams no longer have a huge advantage in valuing past performance.

Lindbergh and Sawchik’s behind-the-scenes reporting reveals:

 

  • How the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox used cutting-edge technology to win the World Series.
  • How undersized afterthoughts José Altuve and Mookie Betts became big sluggers and MVPs.
  • How polarizing pitcher Trevor Bauer made himself a Cy Young contender.
  • How new analytical tools have overturned traditional pitching and hitting techniques.
  • How a wave of young talent is making MLB both better than ever and arguably worse to watch.

Baseball: An Illustrated History by Geoffrey C. Ward , Ken Burns

Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns’s moving and fascinating history of the game goes beyond stolen bases, double plays, and home runs to demonstrate how baseball has been influenced by, and has in turn influenced, American life: politics, race, labor, big business, advertising, social custom, literature, art, and morality. The book covers every milestone of the game: from the rules drawn up in 1845 by Alexander Cartwright to the American League’s introduction of the designated hitter in 1973; from the founding of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players in 1885 to the eight-month players’ strike of 1994; from the 1924 Negro World Series (Kansas City Monarchs vs. Philadelphia Hilldales) to Jack Roosevelt Robinson’s major-league debut in 1947; from the first curve ball in 1867 (pitched by Candy Cummings of the Brooklyn Excelsiors) to Nolan Ryan’s seventh and last no-hitter in 1991. This new edition brings the authors’ monumental work into the twenty-first century: steroids, home-run records, the rise of Latino players, the long-awaited Red Sox World Series victory, and so much more.

The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime by Jason Turbow and Michael Du

An insider’s look at baseball’s unwritten rules, explained with examples from the game’s most fascinating characters and wildest historical moments.
 
Everyone knows that baseball is a game of intricate regulations, but it turns out to be even more complicated than we realize. All aspects of baseball—hitting, pitching, and baserunning—are affected by the Code, a set of unwritten rules that governs the Major League game. Some of these rules are openly discussed (don’t steal a base with a big lead late in the game), while others are known only to a minority of players (don’t cross between the catcher and the pitcher on the way to the batter’s box). In The Baseball Codes, old-timers and all-time greats share their insights into the game’s most hallowed—and least known—traditions. For the learned and the casual baseball fan alike, the result is illuminating and thoroughly entertaining.
 
At the heart of this book are incredible and often hilarious stories involving national heroes (like Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays) and notorious headhunters (like Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale) in a century-long series of confrontations over respect, honor, and the soul of the game. With The Baseball Codes, we see for the first time the game as it’s actually played, through the eyes of the players on the field.
 

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