The Essential Baseball Library
Some of these books can now be purchased through The Field of Dreams Bookstore --an Associate of Amazon.com
NOTE: These were compiled by others (as credited). They were compiled several years ago. There have undoubtably been works published since then that are more than worthy of being added to these lists, but these are NOT my lists.
If you have suggestions for the Recent books section, please email me.
Compiled by Larry Ritter at the request of a SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) publication.
Statistical reference works excluded; listed in alphabetical order by
- Roger Angell
- The Summer Game (1972)
- Five Seasons (1972)
- Late Innings (1982)
- Angell has such deep insights into the game and the people who play it, and writes so well, that he has virtually single-handedly elevated the quality of sportswriting to a new level.
- Eliot Asinof
- Eight Men Out (1963)
- Asinof's book about the 1919 Black Sox scandal still stands, a quarter century later, as one of the best jobs of investigative baseball reporting ever written.
- Red Barber
- The Broadcasters (1970)
- 1947: When All Hell Broke Loose in Baseball (1982)
- Two outstanding books, filled with inside information, by the best baseball play-by-play announcer of all time.
- Thomas Boswell
- How Life Imitates the World Series (1982)
- Why Time Begins on Opening Day (1984)
- One of the few competitors to Angell in terms of elegant and insightful baseball reportage.
- Bobbie Bouton & Nancy Marshall
- Home Games (1983)
- A straightforward and honest book that reveals a side of baseball that is rarely ackowledged, much less discussed. Poignant and moving.
- Jim Bouton & Leonard Schecter
- Ball Four (1970)
- A pioneer in its day. Considered daring at the time but pretty tame stuff now. Perhaps the funniest baseball writing since Ring Lardner.
- Jim Brosnan
- The Long Season (1960)
- Talk about pioneers! As far ahead of his time as Galileo.
- Ty Cobb & Al Stump
- My Life in Baseball (1961)
- After you finish the book, then read about Al Stump's experiences writing it (a 3-part article in True Magazine in 1961.)
- Bob Creamer
- Babe (1974)
- Stengel: His Life and Times (1984)
- Creamer writes a well-researched no-nonsense biography. The best in the business at it.
- Charles Einstein
- The 3 Fireside Books of Baseball (1956, 58, 68)
- It is hard to understand how the publisher, Simon & Schuster, could have allowed these classics to go out of print. They should be available in a boxed set.
- James T. Farrell
- My Baseball Diary (1957)
- A tender and loving book. As great, in its own way, as the same author's famous Studs Lonigan trilogy.
- Gordon Fleming
- The Unforgettable Season (1981)
- A novel and exciting way to relieve a baseball season, in this case 1908 and poor Fred Merkle. The idea is great but I think one book of its type is enough.
- Larry Gerlach
- The Men in Blue (1980)
- Interview-type books depend on the interviewer's skill as an interviewer and as a writer. Gerlach is tops on both counts.
- Lee Gutkind
- Best Seat in the House But You have to Stand ( 1975)
- Great material, delightfully presented. One of the two best books about umpiring ever written. The other is Gerlach's.
- Bill Heward & Dimitri Gat
- Some Are Called Clowns (1974)
- The 1973 season of the barnstorming Indianapolis Clowns. Again wonderful material, top-notch writing.
- Art Hill
- I Don't Care If I Never Come Back (1980)
- A warm, wise, and funny book.
- Jerry Holzman
- No Cheering in the Press Box (1974)
- Terrific interviews with sportswriters.
- Don Honig
- Baseball When the Grass Was Real (1975)
- Baseball Between the Lines (1976)
- The Man in the Dugout (1977)
- The October Heroes (1979)
- The National League (1983)
- The American League (1983)
- Baseball America (1985)
- The first four are wonderful interview books, the next two are
pictorial league histories from the turn of the century to date, with
hundreds of absolutely superb photographs, and the last is a beautifully
written blend of social and baseball history. Fred Lieb used to be the
most prolific book-writing baseball author of all time, but Honig has
overtaken him and is lengthening his lead with every copyright. In
neither case has quantity diminished quality.
- Rogers Hornsby & Bill Surface
- My War With Baseball (1962)
- Bill James
- The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (1985)
- Innovative, stimulating, and great reading, although not quite as
good as Crime and Punishment despite what the jacket copy says.
- Pat Jordan
- A False Spring (1975)
- Another writer in the Angell-Boswell class.
- Roger Kahn
- The Boys of Summer (1972)
- Kahn also belongs in the same league, as this classic shows.
- Gene Karst & Martin Jones
- Who's Who in Professional Baseball (1973)
- An obvious labor of love that few fans seem to know about. It
contains brief but interesting and well-written player biographies.
- Leonard Koppett
- The Thinking Man's Guide to Baseball (1967)
- Now twenty years old and dated, but in its time an eye-opener.
Should be revised, updated, and reissued.
- Fred Lieb
- Baseball As I Have Known It (1977)
- Absolutely fascinating stories about the old days by one of the
best baseball writers ever.
- Lee Lowenfish & Tony Lupien
- The Imperfect Diamond (1980)
- An important well-researched history of labor-management relations
in baseball. Should be updated and reissued.
- Sadaharu Oh & David Falkner
- A Zen Way of Baseball (1984)
- In my opinion, one of the best sports autobiographies ever written.
- Daniel Okrent & Harris Lewine
- The Ultimate Baseball Book (1979)
- I don't like all the articles by people like Tom Wicker and George
Higgins, I don't care for sepia-tinted photos, and many of the
photograph reproductions are too small, but it is still one of the best
baseball books ever published.
- Robert Peterson
- Only the Ball Was White (1970)
- A lot of research has been done on the Negro Leagues since 1970,
but when Peterson's book came out it was pioneering work and it still
stands up well today.
- Damon Rice
- Seasons Past (1976)
- A warm and wonderful book, with the author's name an obvious
psuedonym. Within a fictional framework, covers New York baseball from
the 19th century until the Dodgers and Giants went West. Has always been
a special favorite of mine.
- Jackie Robinson & Charles Dexter
- Baseball Has Done It (1964)
- Powerful stuff, written at the height of the civil rights movement.
- Howard Senzel
- Baseball and the Cold War (1977)
- Your political views will probably greatly influence your reaction
to this book. Personally, I think it is haunting, original, beautifully
written. Also funny. But if you tend to be Conservative by inclination,
you won't care for it.
- J.G. Taylor Spink
- Judge Landis and 25 Years of Baseball (1947)
- Actually, Fred Lieb wrote this, although Spink's name is on the
title page. Informative and frank and pulls surprisingly few punches,
given the era in which it was written.
- Geoffrey Stokes
- Pinstripe Pandemonium (1984)
- Billy Martin and the New York Yankees during the 1983 season. One
of the best behind-the-scenes in-the-clubhouse books ever written about
a baseball team.
- John Thorn
- The Armchair Book of Baseball (1985)
- A worthy successor to the Fireside Books.
- John Thorn & Pete Palmer
- The Hidden Game of Baseball (1984)
- Like Bill James, innovative and stimulating whether or not you
agree with their conclusions.
- Bill Veeck & Ed Linn
- Veeck as in Wreck (1962)
- Great fun and such a pleasure to read!
This is taken from an old issue of The SABR Review of Books, A
Forum for Baseball Literary Opinion. They polled selected members for
the books they go back to time after time. The members who were asked
to participate are a true blue-ribbon panel of serious baseball writers
and researchers. This list was compiled by Paul D. Adomites. The
following people were contributors:
Dick Beverage Alan Blumkin Bill Borst
Jack Carlson Jon Daniels Jay Feldman
Cappy Gagnon Mark Gallagher Bob Hoie
Lloyd Johnson Tom Jozwik Jack Kavanagh
Phil Lowry Vern Luse John Pardon
Frank Phelps Larry Ritter Louis Rubin
Leverett T. Smith Adie Suchsdorf Jules Tygiel
They requested 50 books. More than 200 books were mentioned, yet the
amount of agreement was remarkable. The "library" created has 57
entries. To be listed, a work had to be recommended by more than 3
participants. The two works mentioned most often were The MacMillan
Baseball Encyclopedia and Lawrence Ritter's The Glory of Their Times.
The categories were decided upon afterward just as a way to group the
- The Sports Encyclopedia - Baseball - Neft, Cohen, Deutsch
- The Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia
- The Sporting News Baseball Guides & Registers
- The Hidden Game of Baseball - Thorn & Palmer
- Eight Men Out - Eliot Asinof
- Daguerreotypes - The Sporting News
- The Unforgettable Season - Gordon Fleming
- The American League - Donald Honig
- The National League - Donald Honig
- Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract
- The Boys of Summer - Roger Kahn
- Baseball As I Have Known It - Fred Lieb
- The Ultimate Baseball Book - Okrent & Lewine, eds
- Baseball - The Early Years - Harold Seymour
- Baseball - The Golden Age - Harold Seymour
- Judge Landis and the Twenty-Five Years of Baseball - J.G. Taylor Spinks
- American Baseball (vol 1) - David Voigt
- American Baseball (vol 2) - David Voigt
- American Baseball (vol 3) - David Voigt
- Even the Browns - William B. Mead
- Putnam team histories
IN THEIR OWN LEAGUE
- The Old Ball Game - Tristram Coffin
- Men in Blue - Gerlach
- Dollar Sign on the Muscle - Kevin Kerrane
- The Imperfect Diamond - Lowenfish & Lupien
- The Glory of Their Times - Lawrence Ritter
- Shoeless Joe - W.P. Kinsella
- The Natural - Bernard Malamud
- Bush League - Robert Obojski
- Minor League Stars I - SABR
- Minor League Stars II - SABR
BIOGRAPHY/AUTO- AND OTHER
- Ty Cobb - Charles Alexander
- Ball Four - Jim Bouton
- The Long Season - Jim Brosnan
- Pennant Race - Jim Brosnan
- Babe - Robert L. Creamer
- Stengel - His Life and Times - Robert L. Creamer
- Nice Guys Finish Last - Leo Durocher
- Baseball Between the Lines - Donald Honig
- Baseball When the Grass Was Real - Donald Honig
- A False Spring - Pat Jordan
- Suitors of Spring - Pat Jordan
- Ban Johnson, Czar of Baseball - Eugene Murdock
- The Life that Ruth Built - Marshall Smelser
- Veeck as in Wreck - Bill Veeck
ANTHOLOGIES AND COLLECTIONS
- The Hot Stove League - Lee Allen
- Five Seasons - Roger Angell
- Late Innings - Roger Angell
- The Summer Game - Roger Angell
- How Life Imitates the World Series - Thomas Boswell
- Why Time Begins on Opening Day - Thomas Boswell
- Insiders Baseball - L. Robert Davids, ed
- The Fireside Books of Baseball (3 vols) - Charles Einstein, ed
- The Baseball Reader (a 1 vol compilation of the 3) - Einstein, ed
- The Armchair Book of Baseball - John Thorn
- Voices from the Great Negro Baseball Leagues - John Holway
- Only the Ball Was White - Robert Peterson
- Green Cathedrals - Phil Lowry
- Take Me Out to the Ball Park - Reidenbaugh & Carter, eds
- Ballparks - Shannon
OK, here's my own attempt to list some more recent works that are more than worthy of being added to these lists. (plus a few that are just personal favorites)
If you have recommendations to add, please email me with them.
- Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark - Michael Gershman (1993)
- Baseball By The Rules: Pine Tar, Spitballs, and Midgets - Glenn Waggoner, et al (1987)
- 1939: Baseball's Pivotal Year - Talmadge Boston (1994)
- Catcher in the Wry - Bob Uecker (1982)
- ...It's Where You Played The Game - M. Ryan & L. Ryan (1996)
- Joy in Mudville: The Big Book of Baseball Humor - Dick Schaap & Mort Gerberg (1992)
- Low and Inside - H. Allen Smith (1949)
- Three Men on Third - H. Allen Smith (1951)
- El Beisbol: Travels Through the Pan-American Pastime - John Krich (1989)
- Sugarball: The American Game, The Dominican Dream - Alan M. Klein (1991)
- Hardball: A Season in the Projects - Daniel Coyle (1993)
- Life Lessons From Little League - Vincent M. Fortanasce (1995)
- Essential reading for Little League parents and coaches
- From the Publisher :
Officially endorsed by the Little League Association, with a foreword from Orel Hershiser, Life Lessons From Little League --is an all-star guidefor
Little Leqque parents and coaches who want to teach their children to become not only good players, but also good sports. The new cleats are
purchased, the glove is perfectly broken in--you and your kid are all set for Little League, right? Well, maybe. What happens when he strikes out
eight times in a row? What if the coach never plays her? Dr. Vince Fortanasce, a neurologist and psychiatrist, as well as a veteran Little League
Coach, has lived through all of these experiences and more, and here provides good-natured, sound advice for parents, coaches, and Little Leaguers
so that they can all enjoy the season. Life Lessons From Little League is for the 2.5 million children and their parents who flock to the fields as soon
as winter's thaw is over. For the coaches, Fortanasce draws on his twelve years of coaching experience and offers constructive tips on building a
team's strengths and potential. For the parents, Fortanasce draws on his background as a family doctor and psychiatrist and provides useful
information on what they can physically expect from their six- or eight-year-old, and how to keep his spirits up when he lets (another!) grounder
slide right through his legs. For all, Fortanasce's seasoned wisdom and wonderful vignettes make us realize that Little League is, in a sense,
another classroom where children learn the valuable lessons of right and wrong, perseverance and the honored tradition of sportsmanship. Life
Lessons From Little League is destined for the hall of fame.
- Little League Confidential - Bill Geist (1992)
- Journalist Bill Geist, who is familiar to viewers of the CBS Evening News, used to be a Little League coach in New Jersey. And he somehow lived to
tell about it. When first published in 1992, Little League Confidential assumed cult status as a baseball classic, though some just considered it one
very funny book. Geist reveals the ups and downs (well, mostly downs) of coaching a team sponsored by a local beauty salon. His portraits of
players and parents and his thoughts on competition in small town New Jersey are heartfelt and hilarious.
- Rules of the Game: Simple Truths Learned from Little League - Kurt Hohenstein (1996)
- Essential reading for Little League parents and coaches
- Good Enough to Dream - Roger Kahn (1985)
- Minor League Stars III - SABR (1992)
- Stolen Season: A Journey Through America and Baseball's Minor Leagues - David Lamb (1991)
- Wild and Outside: How a Renegade Minor League Revived the Spirit of Baseball in America's Heartland - Stefan Fatsis (1995)
- Armchair Book of Baseball II - John Thorn (1987)
- Banana Bats and Ding-Dong Balls: A Century of Unique Baseball Inventions - Dan Gutman (1995)
- Baseball By The Books: A History and Complete Bibliography of Baseball Fiction - Andy McCue (1991)
- Baseball Diamonds: Tales, Traces, Visions & Voodoo from a National American Rite - Richard Grossinger & Kevin Kerrane (1980)
- Baseball Games: Home Versions of the National Pastime - Mark Cooper & Douglas Congdon-Martin (1995)
- Baseball's Greatest Quotations - Paul Dickson, ed. (1991)
- Baseball I Gave You All The Best Years of My Life - Richard Grossinger & Lisa Conrad (1992)
- The Dickson Baseball Dictionary - Paul Dickson, ed. (1989)
- Fodor's Ballpark Vacations - Bruce Adams & Margaret Engel (1997)
- The Fourth Fireside Book of Baseball - Charles Einstein, ed. (1987)
- A Great and Glorious Game: Baseball Writings of A. Bartlett Giamatti - A. Bartlett Giamatti & Kenneth Robson (1998)
- Inside Baseball - Dell Bethel (1980)
- Into the Temple of Baseball - Richard Grossinger & Kevin Kerrane (1990)
- The Joy of Keeping Score - Paul Dickson, ed. (1996)
- The Last Magic Summer - Peter Gent (1996)
An account of the author's involvement with his son, Carter, in the amateur ""Connie Mack"" league baseball of Bangor, Michigan, celebrates the
redemptive power of sports and chronicles the turning point in a father-son relationship. By the author of North Dallas Forty.
- From Booklist , 06/01/96:
Gent, a former Dallas Cowboy wide receiver and author of North Dallas Forty (1984), saw his professional and personal lives run aground after that
fast start: there were subsequent books, though none as successful as the first, and his marriage ended in divorce and a bitter custody battle. By the
early 1990s, in financial and physical tatters (his ex-NFL body aged before its time), Gent took solace in coaching his son Carter's summer-league
baseball team. This account of that experience is more than another father-and-son-bond-with-baseball story. Painfully aware that his future is a
smaller measure of time than his past, Gent places his life in a parental rather than vocational context, reflecting sensitively on the divorce and the
fact that Carter was the innocent victim. This book will reach far beyond sports fans: anyone who has ever suffered the pain of divorce--as a parent
or a child--will identify with the Gents and wish them a satisfying future.
Copyright© 1996, American Library Association. All rights reserved
- From Kirkus Reviews , 04/01/96:
This poignant if occasionally rambling memoir is a curious departure for Gent, who is known primarily for his rowdy novels of sporting world
disclosure (North Dallas Forty, 1973; North Dallas After Forty, 1989; etc.). Until the early '80s, former pro footballer Gent admittedly had it all: a
successful writing career, a stately Texas ranch, a lovely wife and adorable, perceptive six-year-old son named Carter. One day in 1983, however,
that all changed when Gent's wife (whom the author refers to only as ``she'' or ``Carter's mother'') announced she was leaving and taking
everything--joint accounts, cars, house, and property. The separation, divorce, and ensuing custody battle (which Gent won) are recounted in
excruciating detail. Now destitute, Gent moved back home to the rust belt agrarian hamlet of Bangor, Mich., a town where ``the Fonz woulda got his
ass stomped by every farm kid.'' Carter grew into an accomplished athlete. And Gent reached for ``the only analgesia . . . to mitigate the damage''
caused by his troubles: supporting and sharing his son's love for baseball. Coaching Carter's AABC Connie Mack league team (age group 1618),
Gent became both reacquainted with his sporting career--a bittersweet reconciliation, given that his body, battered by football, was constantly
racked with pain-- and better acquainted with his son. But despite the frequent depictions of both Carter's childhood antics and his ball club's
valiant struggles against better-funded, more talented opposition, this folksy and dour book is essentially Gent's mid-life memoir. Frequently
touching, this is too often hamstrung by sentimental and self-conscious commentary, a curious and somewhat hollow story coming from a
middle-age man best known for his ``take-no-prisoners'' approach to sports writing, who, like many before him, is forced at once to take stock of
his life and confront mortality. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
- The Louisville Slugger Ultimate Book of Hitting - John Monteleone & Mark Gola (1997)
- The New Thinking Fan's Guide to Baseball - Leonard Koppett (1991)
- Out of My League - George Plimpton (1961)
- The Physics of Baseball - Robert K. Adair (1990)
- Pure Baseball - Keith Hernandez & Mike Bryan (1994)
- The Tao of Baseball - Go (1991)
- The Temple of Baseball - Richard Grossinger (1985)
- The Way Baseball Works - Dan Gutman & Tim McCarver (1996)
- Josh Gibson: A Life in the Negro Leagues - William Brashler (1978)
- The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball - Janet Bruce (1985)
NEW YORK YANKEES
- Dynasty: The New York Yankees 1949-1964 - Peter Golenbock (1975)
- The Greatest of All: The 1927 New York Yankees - John Mosedak (1974)
- Murderer's Row: The 1927 New York Yankees - T. Fleming (1985)
- Sports Illustrated Presents Mantle Remembered - Robert W. Creamer (1995)
- Sweet Seasons: Recollections of the 1955-1964 N.Y. Yankees - Dom Forker (1990)
- Whitey and Mickey: An Autobiography of the Yankee Years - Whitey Ford & Mickey Mantle (1977)
- The Yankee Encyclopedia - Mark Gallagher (1982)
- Essential Baseball - Norm Hitzges & Dave Lawson (1994)
- Percentage Baseball - E. Cook (1966)
- Total Baseball - John Thorn, et al (1997)
TEAMS AND PLAYERS
- Me and DiMaggio: A Baseball Fan Goes in Search of His Gods - Christopher Lehmann-Haupt (1986)
- The Pittsburgh Crawfords: The Lives & Times of Black Baseball's Most Exciting Team! - James Bankes (1991)
- Professional Baseball Franchises: From the Abbeville Athletics to the Zanesville Indians - Peter Filichia (1993)
- Slide, Kelly, Slide - Marty Appel (1996)
WOMEN IN BASEBALL
- Girls of Summer: In Their Own league - Lois Browne (1992)
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Last modified: Mon Mar 23, 1998 - dan
Dan Nichols <email@example.com>