If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve read “Shoeless Joe” or seen its movie adaptation, “Field of Dreams.” Maybe you’ve enjoyed “The Natural” or plunged into “Moneyball” with its history of the rise of analytics. Looking for a few more good baseball books? Put on your favorite team’s cap, don one of your MLB baseball jerseys and lose yourself in a few innings of one of these tales about the national pastime.
- Ball Four, Jim Bouton. Bouton was a fireballing phenom who came up with the Yankees in the early sixties. He was expected to be part of a young corps that would succeed stars such as Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. But the new bunch never achieved stardom and Bouton threw his arm out. He tried to reinvent himself as a knuckleballer. Bouton had limited success with his new pitch, but he wrote an intriguing “kiss and tell” about his journey.
- The Glory of Their Times, Lawrence Ritter. Subtitled “The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It.” Interviews with 22 old-time ballplayers. Some thought “modern” players (the book was published in 1966) lacked dedication but others said the newer guys were better than they had been. They agreed on one thing: they loved the way Willie Mays played the game.
- The Brothers K, David James Duncan. Not just a baseball book but a novel about a family and its relationship with America and the sport. The household patriarch has his minor league career halted with injury, but makes a comeback as “Papa Toe” after a bizarre transplant surgery. The family, like so many of its era, is permanently altered by the Viet Nam War.
- The Summer Game, Roger Angell. No one writes as eloquently about baseball as Angell. His books bring the players and the ballparks to life so stirringly you can almost smell the hot dogs and taste the beer. Others of his are “Late Innings,” “Five Seasons,” “Once More around the Park.”
- The Universal Baseball Association, , J. Henry Waugh, Prop, Robert Coover. The ultimate tribute to anyone who ever invented an imaginary league. In this novel, Proprietor Waugh populates his teams and puts them through their seasons with paper and dice. The invented ballplayers take on lives of their own, and Waugh not only compiles their statistics but also makes up families, anecdotes and rivalries for them.
While you’re collecting classic baseball stories, collect some classic sportswear as well. Custom Throwback Jerseys features a complete lineup of officially licensed vintage MLB baseball jerseys. These are old-fashioned shirts with names of today’s players, as worn in actual games. Pick your favorite athlete or customize your own.