The Art of Great Baseball Books
I’m a huge baseball fan, and the Mets are my team. I also love to read, naturally, and this time of year you’ll find baseball books on my nightstand.
One of the best things about baseball is the fact that it attracts so many great writers. I’m not sure if it’s the cerebral nature of play or the natural storyline that comes with every game and season. But, there is something about this sport, and this sport alone, that can be captured in books.
Faith and Fear in Flushing is a collection of writing originally published in the blog by the same name. Greg W. Prince and Jason Fry follow the Mets from their first championship series in 1969 to their heartbreaking 2006 season. This is not your standard baseball book—it is a personal account of life, love, and loss with baseball as the backdrop. I found myself reliving a ton of childhood memories and was reminded of so many great baseball moments and heartbreaks.
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach is a wonderfully written piece of fiction about the struggles of love, failure, and identity on a college baseball field. I found it very difficult to put this book down. The characters are so well written and Harbach has a way of capturing the beauty of baseball in the written word. This is a book anyone could read, and it may even help non fans better understand the obsession some of us have with the game.
The Bad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman is about “my” Mets. The ’86 Mets were a wild bunch with a swagger that drew ire from fans throughout the country. They partied and brawled, but were so good that they still brought it every single game. This book is a great take on what I would argue was one of the best baseball teams to ever take the field.
Doc, a memoir of Dwight Gooden co-written with Ellis Henican, is a sober look at that ’86 wild bunch. Gooden’s story transcends baseball, and provides a frank look at poverty, drug addiction, and the struggles of a father and son to understand each other.
If you enjoyed the film 42, especially Harrison Ford’s role, you may want read Jimmy Breslin’s, Branch Rickey: A Life. I read this book in just one night, and came away from it with a new hero. Rickey was my kind of man—a leader who cared about doing what was right, not just what would get his team to win.