Last summer, I got back in the habit of reading for pleasure every day. I called it “Maddie’s Summer Book Club of One”, and we had a splendid time. This summer, MSBCOO (the name is still being workshopped) is back for the second time, but unlike last year, we have a theme. This summer, I’m going to read as many baseball books as I can. This means fiction about or including lots of baseball, player biographies, historical nonfiction, and books about strategy and the intricacies of gameplay.
So far I’m making pretty good headway, and I’ve learned that reading a book about the history of baseball in public is like sending up a Bat Signal for every single T-Ball Dad in a half mile radius to come grill you about the game. So far I’ve made a few friends and several enemies. If you have any great baseball book recommendations please let me know on Twitter @_crosscheck or by carrier pigeon, so I can add them to my ever growing pile of literature.
Baseball: A History of America’s Favorite Game by George Vecsey
I’m learning a lot about the early days of the game and how it came to look like it does now from this book. Along with lots of structural knowledge come fascinating trivia bits like this:
“On June 28th, 1907, a sore-armed third-string catcher with the New York Highlanders allowed the Washington Nationals to steak 13 bases in a single game. This major league record…is still standing nearly a century later.”
That sore-armed catcher was Branch Rickey, who went on to become, as Vecsey put it, “baseball’s Da Vinci”. But isn’t it funny that the Nats still hold this record, especially now when the likes of Trea Turner play for this club?
The Best American Sports Writing 2015, edited by Wright Thompson.
This is more than a baseball book, obviously, but it contains my favorite piece of non fiction baseball writing in the world. Thirteen Ways of Looking at Greg Maddux, by Jeremy Collins, is an example of the very best that sports writing can be. I beg you all to read it immediately, as you will be better for it.
Baseball Life Advice by Stacey May Fowles
Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters by Mark Kingwell
As I said earlier, please let me know if you have any favorite baseball lists so I can continue to litter my new apartment with towering piles of books.