writers share favorite baseball books

Time for some summer reading? You’re in luck. We invited our esteemed writing colleagues at to suggest at least one favorite baseball book. Ball Four tops Moneyball, 8-6, for most mentions. David Halberstam has the most suggested works with three. Some titles will surprise you. These 47 folks write about baseball for a living, in some cases books as well, so take their advice and happy reading.

Jordan Bastian: Fifty-nine in ’84 By Edward Achorn.

Mike Bauman: Eight Men Out by Eliot Asinof.

Summer of '49Jason Beck: I read Summer of ’49 while in college, and for me it’s still the standard. Really good individual storytelling woven into the bigger context of a pennant race and its place in the larger culture.

Barry Bloom: The Iowa Baseball Confederacy by W.P. Kinsella. Shoeless Joe was turned into a cliche by the movie “Field of Dreams.” Iowa stands on its own as a phantasmagorical allegory for an endless, timeless baseball game and how that applies to anyone’s life.

Hal Bodley: If I didn’t say How Baseball Explains America, my latest and just-published book, I wouldn’t be fair to myself and the 55-plus years it took to assemble the memories and the effort it took to write it. Other than that, it would have to be John Grisham’s Callico Joe.

Rhett Bollinger: Mine is Moneyball by Michael Lewis. It helped me change the way I thought about baseball.

Corey Brock: Dollar Sign on the Muscle introduced me to the world of scouting at a young age. Fascinating stuff. Still pick it up from time to time.

Ian Browne: Teammates by Halberstam.

Jim Callis: Five Seasons by Roger Angell.

Anthony Castrovince: Summer of ’49 by Halberstam. And I’ll always have a soft spot for Nash and Zullo’s Believe it or Else! Baseball edition, a ridiculous book of baseball oddities that I got as a little kid. Still on my shelf.

Bill Chastain: The Natural, by Bernard Malamud; Bang the Drum Slowly, by Mark Harris; and Ball Four, by Jim Bouton.

Ball FourGregor Chisolm: Mel Martin Baseball Stories. It’s a six-book set that was written by John R. Cooper in the 1950s. My dad owned the series when he was a kid and he passed them along to me when I first started getting into novels.

Anthony DiComo: I have to go with Moneyball … the first baseball book that got me thinking about the game on a deeper level.

Alyson Footer: Wait ’til Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Also I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story.

Spencer Fordin: Idiots Revisited.

Joe Frisaro: BUMS by Peter Golenback. Boys of Summer is considered the ultimate Brooklyn Dodgers book. “BUMS” is a great read that really captured the bond between that team and its fans.

Brittany Ghiroli: Moneyball!

Steve Gilbert: Weaver on Strategy.

Alden Gonzalez: Men At Work: The Craft Of Baseball by George Will. I read it early in my career, before taking on a beat, and it made me understand and appreciate the game in a whole new light.

Ken Gurnick: Boys of Summer.

Paul Hagen: Favorite anthology, and one of the books that got me hooked on reading about baseball as a kid: The Fireside Book of Baseball. Novels: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, The Natural by Bernard Malamud, The Celebrant by Eric Rolfe Greenberg, The Universal Baseball Association, Inc. by Robert Coover. Biographies: Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Kramer, Sandy Koufax by Jane Leavy, Steinbrenner by Bill Madden, Ted Williams by Leigh Montville, The Last Boy by Jane Leavy, Clemente by David Maraniss. Autobiography: Veeck As in Wreck. Specialty subjects: Dollar Sign on the Muscle by Kevin Kerrane on scouting, The Chrysanthemum and the Bat by Robert Whiting (baseball in Japan), Moneyball by Michael Lewis (front office), The Ticket Out by Michael Sokolove (sociology). Seminal works: The Long Season by Jim Brosnan, Ball Four by Jim Bouton, Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn, Miracle Ball by Brian Biegel.

Glory of Their TimesChris Haft: Since I was here in Cooperstown to pay my respects to Roger Angell during this invite, I have to go with his Five Seasons.

Bryan Hoch: I’ll go with Jonathan Eig’s Luckiest Man, and Bouton’s Ball Four. Also honorable mention for The Worst Team Money Could Buy, which I dog-eared as a teenager. And two more I have to mention: The Bronx is Burning and Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball.

Greg Johns: I’ll go back to my youth . . . Ball Four by Jim Bouton.

Richard Justice: Five Seasons: A Baseball Companion by Roger Angell.

Dick Kaegel: Not even close. The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence S. Ritter.

Jenifer Langosch: October 1964.

Matthew Leach: Ball Four.

Jane Lee: Have to go with Ball Four.

Jonathan Mayo: I would pick Halberstam’s Summer of ’49 and October 1964.

Adam McCalvy: The Milwaukee boy in me really liked Me and Hank by Sandy Tolan.

Brian McTaggart: Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life, by Richard Ben Cramer.

Scott Merkin: The Bronx Zoo by Sparky Lyle.

Doug Miller: The Long Season by Jim Brosnan.

Carrie Muskat: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.

ClementeMark Newman: I need a bracket tournament to choose from among (a) The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams and John Underwood; (b) Clemente; (c) Catcher with a Glass Arm by Matt Christopher; and (d) Men at Work by George Will. If I wasn’t surrounded by luminaries here I would make my grandmother proud and go with C, but instead we’ll give the nod to the bio that captured Puerto Rico’s beloved legend. Oh, and I still have that little Dope Book I wrote about here four years ago.

Tracy Ringsolby: Favorite baseball book is Babe Ruth Caught in a Snowstorm.

Phil Rogers: Put me down for Heart of the Game, Scott Price’s book on Mike Coolbaugh and the line drive that killed him while he coached first base. Runnerup is Ernie Banks: Mr. Cub and the Summer of ’69, by Phil Rogers. That was a hell of a book.

Jesse Sanchez: Clemente by David Maraniss is my favorite.

John Schlegel: Red Smith on Baseball. It’s a collection of the great columnist’s works on baseball, and it becomes sort of a time portal to an era when baseball really was America’s only pastime and newspapermen were the great communicators of the game’s beauty. The way he crafted his columns, it could be a sportswriting textbook. I also like Teammates, Moneyball (even though I disagreed with the general sentiment, it’s so incredibly well written and researched) and I Had a Hammer.

Mark Sheldon: Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig by Jonathan Eig. Also Jane Levy’s The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood.

Tom Singer: I’m going old school: Jim Brosnan’s Pennant Race and Mark Harris’ Bang The Drum Slowly.

Lyle Spencer: Willie Mays, The Life, The Legend, by James Hirsch.

MoneyballT.R. Sullivan: If I Never Get Back. It is a novel by Darryl Brock about a man who gets stuck back in time and ends up as a reserve for the 1869 Cincinnati Reds.

John Thorn: Let me mention three. Favorite baseball book with a historical theme: Larry Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times. Favorite baseball history: Harold and Dorothy Seymour’s Baseball: The Early Years (Volume I, to 1903; Volume II was great too: Baseball: The Golden Age … to 1930). Favorite baseball book, and the most important one, Jim Bouton’s Ball Four. For other favorites of mine (as if these were not enough!), see:

Meggie Zahneis: What a coincidence! Before checking my phone and seeing this invite, I finished Mariano Rivera’s autobiography, The Closer, and loved it. I really enjoyed The Baseball by Zack Hample as well.

Todd Zolecki: Ball Four and Moneyball.

Share your favorites in the comments and let us know what you think of the list.

— Mark Newman


First: Terrific List! Thanks for assembling this; and for continuing to add books via this blog. Gregory, the “Mel Martin” books are a gold mine, the Hardy Boys play baseball mix that accurately captures the friendships of baseball at the kids’ level through high school. My dad gave them to me, and I bought sets for my son and daughter. Among books missing from the list, I loved Roger Kahn’s “Good Enough to Dream”; a symphony of the good and sad and poignant in the minor leagues. “The Umpire Strikes Back” by the late Ron Luciano; “Bottom of the 33rd” by Dan Barry; and (back on the list) “Wait til Next Year” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Thanks grenfell16 . . . and especially for reminding me of the Luciano classic. At the time a must-read without question!


Reblogged this on Blogs Central and commented:

47 of us writers have just shared our favorite baseball book titles to help others with Summer Reading. Ball Four tops Moneyball, 8-6, to lead the list. See the extraordinary roundup on our official Baseball Books Blog at http;// and be sure to comment with YOUR favorites. – Mark

BILLY BALL by Billy Martin. Flat out the best strategy book ever written. Changed how I view the game. I believe Clint Hurdle has read it also.

I’ve got to go with “Seasons in Hell: with Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and the “worst team in baseball history– the 1973-75 Texas Rangers by Mike Shropshire. This book was highly entertaining from start to finish and had a Hunter S. Thompson like quality to it. Most baseball writers couldn’t write their way out of a wet paper bag….Shropshire is highly talented, and hilarious to boot!

Just finished Trading Bases. Great story about Wall Street, and how a trader uses SABRmetrics to bet and win on baseball. True story

I’m glad Paul Hagen listed Miracle Ball by Brian Biegel. Hands down, the best baseball book I ever read. It’s not filled with stats and front office stories, nor is it a biography (too common). It’s a fascinating, emotional story. Word is they’re making a movie out of it.

One of my favorites is ‘No Big Deal’ by Mark Fidrych, and ‘The Bird: the Life and Times of Mark Fidrych’ released last year. Both give great insight to one of the best characters baseball has ever known. I’ve also enjoyed autobiographies from Pete Rose, Birdie Tebbets, Ryne Sandburg, and Denny McLain. I’m currently reading ‘Star and Strikes’ by Dan Epstein and it’s pretty entertaining.

Kue saroja

I read MIRACLE BALL by Brian Biegel a few years ago and it still gives me chills thinking about it. Fantastic book that mixes baseball, treasure hunting, family and history. It’s essentially a detective story – the author conducts a 2-year investigation into the whereabouts of Bobby Thompson’s 1951 HR ball. The Giant’s win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!

Agree about Miracle Ball. I read it in one day. It’s one of those books that you just HAVE to know what’s going to happen next. There’s talk about a Hollywood movie. I would definitely see that.

There are three other good ones that I really like-PERFECT, THE INSIDE STORY OF BASEBALL’S 20 PERFECT GAMES. (Obviously not current, as three more were thrown since.) But this is a really good one that truly takes you back to those nights and makes you feel like you were there. And you hear interesting anecdotes on each game.
The other one I like is SHORTENED SEASONS. It is the stories behind active major leaguers who died suddenyly. It is morbid, but it celebrates lives that were cut short.
I also liked SMITHSONIAN BASEBALL-pictures of the most amazing collections of baseball memorabilia in the world. When I saw this book and saw these collections, it has now inspired me to start my own unique collection, which I have now launched.

The book about Clemente by Maraniss is one of my favorites along with Miracle Ball. Does anyone know when the movie (Miracle Ball) is coming out?

Guten Start in die neue Woche wünsch ich 😉

Ball Four is also a great book, period. It should be taught as literature. Compared to Ball Four, Brosnan is a drag (sorry).The Universal Baseball Associaton is a very fine, original novel of ideas, the antithesis of the sentimental faux-myth baseball stuff most writers strive for (and, alas, succeed at). Ted Williams’s My Turn at Bat is the best “as told to” autobiography ever.

It’s a shame that Harold Seymour’s groundbreaking studies don’t get more respect. But, then, neither does Bill James apparently.

Why didn’t I read “Ball Four” earlier in life? I think it would have been better for me I cracked it open as a kid!

hi dear This is a magic website

Reblogged this on McKinley Post and commented:
The best baseball books on the market.


The Glory of Their Times.

“Voices of the Game” and “What Baseball Means to Me” by Curt Smith

Might also suggest “the Catcher Was A Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg.” Fascinating and sometimes sad story of one of the games oddest balls.

Reblogged this on Charlie R. Claywell and commented:
Came across this on Freshly Pressed…

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I’m hoping some of you guys might consider my book The Voices of Baseball: The Game’s Greatest Broadcasters Reflect on America’s Pastime to be among your favorites when it comes out this August. Broadcasters from Scully, Brennaman and Jon Miller to Jim Powell, Dick Bremer and Charley Steiner discuss their favorite moments and their ballparks, past and present, as well as pay homage to the greats like Harwell, Barber, Allen, and Caray. It is a very easy and enjoyable read. I assure you.

I have a book out there, “Of Mudcat, Boo, The Rope and Oil Can: An Informal History of Mississippians in Major League Baseball,” published in October 2014, that might interest followers of this blog. It’s an easy read, covering a topic that is much broader than you might realize.

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Ugh, bad grammar! Let me rephrase:

I’m late to this, but how could none of you mention You Know Me Al by Ring Lardner!? How in the hell did this escape you all?

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