I often take the chance during the offseason to post about more general baseball topics. So, please indulge me while I share with you a list of my favorite books on baseball. I'd also love suggestions for any good ones I've missed! I've been a Braves fan my entire life, but over the years I have become more and more passionate about baseball as a whole. I will watch any kind of baseball game, anytime, anywhere. In the past four years or so, I've read less and less romance novels and more and more non-fiction books on various baseball topics. The best books I've read more than once. Here are my favorites:
Built to Win: I had to mention this one first since it was written by the Atlanta Braves' own Team President, John Schuerholz. I credit this book with jump-starting my infatuation with baseball books. As a Braves fan and someone who wanted to be the first female GM in baseball, I had to read this book the minute it was published. Unfortunately, that minute was during law school, so it had to wait a couple of months until summer break. Not only was it worth the wait, I've read it three times since then. You don't have to be a Braves fan to love it either, it's a great insight into how one of the greatest GMs of all time contributed to the Braves amassing a record 14 division titles.
Feeding the Monster: I read this one on a beach in Hawaii after taking the bar exam. You can't beat a good book on a good beach. This one chronicles the behind-the-scenes of the 2004 Red Sox. Talk about timing, this author was granted permission to follow the team during a season in which they won their first World Series since 1918 and the "Curse of the Bambino." Again, not a book where you have to be a fan of the team it's written about (although it helps that I am). The greater focus is on the inner-workings of a Major League club, which is only more interesting because it became a World Series Champion club.
Moneyball: This is probably the book you're all most familiar with and likely to have read. The author details a season he spent with the Oakland A's and how their innovative thinking on player statistics allowed them to field a competitive team with a low payroll. All really interesting but the As weren't nearly as unique in their thinking as the author makes them out to be. Billy Beane, who is a main character, even denies being a so-called "Moneyball" guy. I took a lot of the information in this book labeled as unique and innovative with a grain of salt. It's the only book I've read on baseball that wasn't written by someone who has worked in baseball or covered baseball as a sportswriter. I added it to the favorites list because I think it's a must-read for baseball fans, but it barely makes the list. I do not think it's the revolutionary book it is sometimes acclaimed to be, but I do think it provides some good insight into how teams evaluate players, prepare for the draft and choose how to use the players on the roster.
Minor Players, Major Dreams: This is a great book I found accidentally last year. I was able to buy a copy for $1.99 on Amazon and when it arrived I found that it had been signed by the author. Let me tell you, this book deserves more credit than that. The author was a former high school baseball player and convinced the Ogden Raptors of the independent leagues to let him play for a year so he could write this book. I think every high school boy who has major league dreams should read this book. It provides great insight in to what minor league players go through on a daily basis. It's also a great read for fans like me who are just curious. You find yourself rooting for these guys as they fight for their last chance to become Major League players. Highly underrated and under-advertised book.
Ball Four: Another one you've probably heard of and are likely to have read, written by former player, Jim Bouton. Very controversial book in its time (1970) about a season in the life of Jim Bouton. I just posted a review of this book on my site yesterday that you can click here to read.
I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally: This is the sequel to Ball Four and so a must-read as well. This one details the aftermath of Ball Four's publication. I posted a review of this one on my site today that you can click here to read.
That concludes the list of must-reads for the casual fan. If you're interested in baseball economics, collective bargaining and the struggle for competitive balance, May The Best Team Win is the best book out there, until of course I publish my book!
I'm always looking for suggestions for baseball books I've passed by or missed, so feel free to tell me about your favorite!