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Good Baseball (or Twins) Books

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 13 March 2020 - 07:59 AM

Since we have some extra time on our hands, I thought we might start a string of your favorite baseball books. I'll kick it off with a few on my bookcase shelf

  • Shoeless Joe by WP Kinsella - This was the book that produced Field of Dreams. 
  • The Iowa Baseball Confederacy by WP Kinsella - If you thought Field of Dreams was weird, you're right. But this is even weirder. Somehow I remember it better. 
  • Cool of the Evening by Jim Thielman - Documents the 1965 Minnesota Twins season. Excellent inside view of that team.
  • Baseball in Minnesota by Stew Thornley - The Twins Official Scorer is also a local historian, and this covers the entire history of baseball in Minnesota, going back to the 1800s.
  • The Dickson Baseball Dictionary by Paul Dickson - This is almost an encyclopedia-type reference, but sit down for an hour and just flip through baseball pages. It's the etymology of baseball phrases, like where "can of corn" or "out of left field" came from. 

 

Let's hear what's on your baseball shelves, or some recent winners you're read. 

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#2 Ebby Calvin Laloosh

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Posted 13 March 2020 - 08:48 AM

The Brothers K by David James Duncan. It's a bit of a imagining/reworking of Dostoevsky, but also baseball. A great read that I recommend to any baseball fan. Enjoy!

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#3 Craig Arko

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Posted 13 March 2020 - 08:59 AM

The Catcher was a Spy. - Nicholas Dawidoff

 

About the life of Moe Berg. Much better than the film version.

 

Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking Outside the Batter’s Box. - Eric Bronson (ed.)

 

Yes, baseball has a philosophy. Why is it so special to us?

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#4 VATwinsFan

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Posted 13 March 2020 - 09:21 AM

Today's Game by Martin Quigley.

Written in 1965 it's a novel about a single game, the first meeting between a team that at the insistence of it's manager traded it's Jack Morris type veteran pitcher for a Byron Buxton type budding superstar.As much of a psychological study as a story about a baseball game.

 

Primitive Baseball by Harvey Frommer

A book about baseball in the late 1800s.Excellent narrative of the game of that era and how it evolved.

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#5 woolywoolhouse

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Posted 13 March 2020 - 10:25 AM

For Twins-specific, I enjoyed "162-0: The Greatest Wins!" It takes a look at the greatest wins in Twins' history, starting with the greatest season opener and ending with the greatest Game 7 (so technically there are more than 162 games in here, as it includes postseason.) A fun, loose read that can be picked up when you want to relive (or learn about) some great past Twins' moments. 

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#6 clutchhittin18

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Posted 13 March 2020 - 11:00 AM

 - Pages from Baseball's Past by Craig Wright

 - Baseball Between the Numbers by Nate Silver

 

If you like or want to know more of the small oddities of baseball I would recommend Pages from Baseball's Past.For some of you older baseball fans, you may remember a pre-game radio show by that same name.It's the same guy only he now does the stories via internet subscription.The book is a compilation of a bunch of the most interesting stories.Very short and easy to read each one.

 

If you get into math and numbers behind baseball, Nate Silver's Baseball Between the Numbers gives a bunch of interesting premises like "Does batting order matter" and then explores them statistically.

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#7 drbob524

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Posted 13 March 2020 - 11:04 AM

 

 

 

Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking Outside the Batter’s Box. - Eric Bronson (ed.)

 

Yes, baseball has a philosophy. Why is it so special to us?

 

Second for the Baseball and Philosophy. great book. The whole Philosophy and Popular Culture series is really good too.

 

The Arm by Jeff Passan. about TJ surgery and pitching

 

The Shift by Russel Carleton

Smart Baseball by Keith Law

-both good intros to newer stats

 

 

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#8 howieramone2

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Posted 13 March 2020 - 11:16 AM

Ball Four by Jim Bouton
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#9 PDX Twin

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Posted 13 March 2020 - 11:39 AM

I agree with many of the books cited above. But my favorite of all time is Morry Frank's Every Young Man's Dream: Confessions of a Southern League Shortstop

 

https://www.amazon.c...s/dp/0916747018

 

It's a pretty gritty novel about minor league life whose protagonist is not always admirable. Not a romantic idealization of minor-league baseball! But as literature, I think it is really good.

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#10 Ebby Calvin Laloosh

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Posted 13 March 2020 - 12:08 PM

I'm Fascinated By Sacrifice Flys by Tim Kurkjain is pretty entertaining.

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#11 Dantes929

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Posted 13 March 2020 - 11:09 PM

Catcher in the Rye is my favorite baseball book. :)

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#12 Dantes929

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Posted 13 March 2020 - 11:33 PM

Ok, seriously, Ball Four was great. I still quote stuff from that one. I remember really liking The Southpaw and Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris.My favorites by far when growing up though were the Chip Hilton series by Clair Bee. Nine of the 24 books in the series were about baseball and they were all my favorite.

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#13 theBOMisthebomb

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Posted 14 March 2020 - 12:17 AM

I will add "Why Baseball Matters" by Susan Jacoby. She does a decent job of building a case as to why the sport is still relevant. Also, the stories of her childhood growing up in a baseball neighborhood in New York City truly resonate.
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#14 nclahammer

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Posted 14 March 2020 - 06:11 AM

My all-time favorite is "For the Love of the Game" by Michael Schaara. I did not care for the movie by the same name, but the book is so so SO much better.Schaara also wrote "Killer Angels" which the movie "Gettysburg" is based on.TD contributor Daniel Venn wrote "Beyond Baseball Rounding First" which is a story of perseverence, helping others, and life's curveballs."The 34-Ton Bat" by Steve Rushin I enjoyed and I just received "The Bill James Handbook" for Christmas, so I'm set for awhile.Thanks for the eariler suggestions.

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#15 IndianaTwin

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Posted 14 March 2020 - 06:24 AM

 

My all-time favorite is "For the Love of the Game" by Michael Schaara. I did not care for the movie by the same name, but the book is so so SO much better.Schaara also wrote "Killer Angels" which the movie "Gettysburg" is based on.TD contributor Daniel Venn wrote "Beyond Baseball Rounding First" which is a story of perseverence, helping others, and life's curveballs."The 34-Ton Bat" by Steve Rushin I enjoyed and I just received "The Bill James Handbook" for Christmas, so I'm set for awhile.Thanks for the eariler suggestions.

 

“For Love of the Game” as a movie was pretty universally panned, but it’s one of my favorites. By now I’ve seen it enough times that I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to give the book a fair shake.


#16 IndianaTwin

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Posted 14 March 2020 - 06:31 AM

I’m partway through reading “Summer of ’68: The season that changed baseball and America, forever.” It’s one of a series of books that have walked through a season. As someone who was born just a couple years earlier, it’s been a helpful American history lesson and has done a good job of putting the season in a context. I recently read “The Tigers of ’68: Baseball’s Last Real Champions,” which did much the same in a Detroit-specific way. 

 

By contrast, “Stars and Stripes” is merely entertaining. It was more of a recitation of game stories and highlights of the 1976 season and bicentennial year. I enjoyed it, and it was a good recap, but didn’t have the kind of critique/analysis present in the former two. 


#17 Ebby Calvin Laloosh

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Posted 14 March 2020 - 07:49 AM

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson. It's not entirely about baseball, but it's wildly entertaining. Maybe not the best site to recommend this book as the baseball part is about the Yankees. Worth the read for any baseball fan though.


#18 Teflon

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Posted 14 March 2020 - 09:40 AM

The Great American Novel by Philip Roth chronicles the demise and cover-up of America's third major league, the Patriot League, and the particular travails of the 1943 Ruppert Mundys who played the entire season on the road after their owners rented Mundy Stadium to the US Government. I enjoy the hyper-detailed picture Roth paints of the era, the colorful characters populating the league and, of course, Roth's sense of humor. I re-read this book every spring as a prelude to baseball.


#19 Parker Hageman

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Posted 14 March 2020 - 10:02 AM

I've started tracking my #SickReadingBrag this past year. I churn through a combination of baseball, coaching, personal development and personal finance books. 

 

You can look at that list and my recommendations here. Anyone of the 3-star and above books I would tell you to read if you enjoy the subject matter, 5-stars are a must-read, in my opinion. 

 

Here are a few that I would start with baseball:

 

- MVP Machine

- Homegrown

- The Shift

- The Cubs Way

- Big Data Baseball

- Astroball 

 

I also have Swing Kings coming in a week or so. Feels like we should all order that book and have a book club thread. 

 

My favorite non-baseball books:

 

- Atomic Habits, James Clear. Cannot recommend this one enough for personal development. Entertaining and informative. 

- One Summer, America 1927, Bill Bryson. Recommended above already but just wanted to stress how good of a read it is. It covers so many topics. 

- How Music Got Free, Stephen Witt. Just wrapped this one up on my trip down to Fort Myers. It may be more applicable to anyone who follows the music industry or remembers using Napster in their dorm room. They tag it as the Moneyball for music and it is. Dry first chapter but the story really excels after that. 

-Your Money Or Your Life, Vicki Robins. Just a great look at what matters in this world. 

- Range, David Epstein. 

 

"You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." -- Jim Bouton, "Ball Four"


#20 ashbury

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Posted 14 March 2020 - 10:21 AM

Great topic. Here is a selection of recommendations from what is on my decent but hardly world-class shelf of baseball books.

  • Any coffee table book. One I have on hand is The Baseball Scrapbook, by Peter Bjarkman. Another is This Great Game, with no authorship listed on the spine except a MLB logo. There's no shortage of others, at any good used bookstore. The cascade of photos and other illustrations soothes the fan's heart in these times.
  • Bill James's 1982 Baseball Abstract. This I believe was the initial mass-market publication by James, and thus represents a pivotal moment when people began applying the scientific method to our game, challenging long-held beliefs with hard data (which at the time was still hard to come by).
  • Any SABR Research Journal or The National Pastime. It's comforting to see how hard many have worked to establish a proper historical record of our game.
  • Green Cathedrals, by Philip Lowry. Want to know everything about every major league park in history? It gets overwhelming when taken as a whole, but in snippets there's not much to match it. SABR just published a PDF update, but any paperback version will be close enough to complete to do the job.
  • The Summer Game by Roger Angell. Published at a time when baseball was still a common language every American spoke or at least understood, it brings back a style of writing no longer seen.
  • The Joy of Keeping Score, by Paul Dickson. Dickson's dictionary was mentioned earlier, and this slimmer volume digs into the act of filling out a scoresheet to explain the game more broadly.
  • Calvin, Baseball's Last Dinosaur, by Jon Kerr. The first owner of the Twins was both one of a kind and last of his kind. A flawed individual who is worth reading up about.
  • The Man In The Dugout, by Donald Honig. Comparing and contrasting fifteen managers gives a different insight about the game than the usual baseball biography.
  • The Redheaded Outfield and other Baseball Stories, by Zane Grey. Like Angell's book, it evokes an earlier time, this being one that I'm sorry I missed and probably only Chief remembers.

I could go on, but this gives a flavor.

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