Five Baseball Books You Need Right Now

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When it comes to the traditional sounds that tell you summer is in full swing, the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, and the ceaseless cries of the stadium beer vendors are as essential to the season as the jingle of the ice cream truck and the ever-present hum of air conditioners. There’s probably no sport loaded with as much lore as The Great American Pastime either, whether it’s the labyrinthine calculations of baseball statisticians or the historians’ hardy spelunking through the game’s amassed archives.

So here’s a handy little library to provide a bit of bibliophile background for another season of baseball’s inevitable thrills, disappointments, and head-scratchers, including everything from old-timers’ accounts to brain-twisting trivia.

Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game? The Improbable Saga of the New York Mets’ First Year 

By Jimmy Breslin

Can't Anybody Here play this gameMight as well start off with one of the undeniable classics of American sports writing, by one of journalism’s giants.

In 1962, Jimmy Breslin covered the Mets’ first season, and let’s just say the team got off to a rocky start. If you think the Mets have had trouble in more recent times, that’s nothing compared to their extremely humble beginnings as the biggest losers in baseball. To give you an idea, the book’s title reportedly comes from a comment by the ’62 Mets’ manager, Casey Stengel.

 

Total Baseball Trivia By the editors of Total Baseball

Total Baseball TriviaWhen Joe Carter slammed out a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to win the 1993 World Series for the Blue Jays, who was the poor sap on the pitcher’s mound?

That’s only one of countless questions carefully crafted to not only test but enhance your baseball knowledge in this titanic trivia book. But one of the things that sets Total Baseball Trivia apart from the pack is that it’s a game in itself! Each question comes with a point value, and the book is divided up into “innings” so you can either compete against a friend or tackle the tome on your own.

 


Fair Ball: A Fan’s Case for Baseball
 
By Bob Costas

Fair Ball by Bob CostasNobody’s a bigger baseball lover than superstar sportscaster Bob Costas, and that’s exactly why he spends so much of this bestseller detailing what he thinks is wrong with the game today.

Costas covers the ways in which baseball has become too much about big money, sacrificing the sport itself in the process. But being the hardcore fan that he is, Costas is careful to include his own ideas about the way the sport should be structured, to level the playing field, as it were, and keep baseball as inspiring in the future as it’s been in the past.

 

Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards By Josh Wilker

Cardboard GodsThis memoir makes for one of the most unusual and unforgettable investigations into the power of baseball itself and the obsession with baseball cards in particular.

The book finds Wilker looking back on the tribulations of his 1970s childhood through the prism of the baseball cards whose images and information had become such an integral part of his early inner life. Somehow he makes his ideas about Wade Boggs, Tom Seaver, et al work as a vehicle for examining his own youth. And you can project your own notions into the work as well, since there are photos of the cards at the beginning of each chapter!

 

Inside the Baseball Hall of Fame By the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Inside the Baseball Hall of FameThe Baseball Hall of Fame may be the home of just about every important item in baseball history, but there’s so much in the museum’s vast collection that you’ll never see it all no matter how many trips you make to Cooperstown.

Still, you’ll see a lot more of it if you get a gander at this photo book’s jaw-dropping journey through the Hall’s voluminous vaults. Pedro Martinez’s 3,000-strikeout jersey? Check. Lou Gehrig’s glove? Got it. The songwriter’s original handwritten lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game? You bet. But maybe the best thing of all is that this is a museum you can visit without ever leaving your living room.

 

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