It's opening day of the 2011 baseball season which means that winter really is over (forecast of snowfall here in the Northeast notwithstanding). To celebrate, here are some of my favorite baseball books. All descriptions come from the publishers' websites.
Wait Til Next Year: A Memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The story of a young girl growing up in the suburbs of New York in the 1950s, when owning a single-family home on a tree-lined street meant the realization of dreams, when everyone knew everyone else on the block, and the children gathered in the streets to play from sunup to sundown. The neighborhood was equally divided among Dodger, Giant, and Yankee fans, and the corner stores were the scenes of fierce and affectionate rivalries.
The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
A classic about the young men who learned to play ball in the '30s and '40s, by a sportswriter who grew up near Ebbets Field and who covered the 1950s Dodgers.
Summer of '49 by David Halberstam
With incredible skill, passion, and insight, Pulitzer Prize–winning author David Halberstam returns us to a glorious time when the dreams of a now almost forgotten America rested on the crack of a bat.
The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty by Buster Olney
Buster Olney tracks the Yankees through the tumultuous championship seasons and into the scandals and disappointments of 2004, providing insightful portraits of the stars, the foot soldiers, the coaches, the manager, and the Boss himself.
Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy by Jane Leavy
Award-winning former Washington Post sportswriter Jane Leavy reveals, for the first time, what drove the three-time Cy Young award winner to the pinnacle of baseball and then—just as quickly—into self-imposed exile.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
Following the low-budget Oakland Athletics, their larger-than-life general manger, Billy Beane, and the strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts, Michael Lewis has written not only "the single most influential baseball book ever" (Rob Neyer, Slate) but also what "may be the best book ever written on business" (Weekly Standard).
Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball by George F. Will
political commentator, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and lifelong sports enthusiast George F. Will travels from the baseball field to the dugout to the locker room to get to the root of the game we all love.
The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood by Jane Leavy
The definitive biography of an American original—number 7, Mickey Mantle. Drawing on more than five hundred interviews with friends and family, teammates, and opponents, Leavy delivers the definitive account of Mantle's life, mining the mythology of The Mick for the true story of a luminous and illustrious talent with an achingly damaged soul.
The Glory of Their Times: The Early Days of Baseball Told By the Men Who Played It by Lawrence S. Ritter
Baseball was different in earlier days—tougher, rawer, more intimate—when giants like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb ran the bases. In the monumental classic The Glory of Their Times, the golden era of our national pastime comes alive through the vibrant words of those who played and lived the game.
The Bad Guys Won: A Season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo Chasing, and Championship Baseball with Straw, Doc, Mookie, Nails, the Kid, and the Rest of the 1986 Mets, the Rowdiest Team Ever to Put on a New York Uniform--and Maybe the Best by Jeff Pearlman
Award-winning former Sports Illustrated baseball writer Jeff Pearlman returns to an innocent time when a city worshipped a man named Mookie and the Yankees were the second-best team in New York.
Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption and Baseball's Longest Game by Dan Barry - on sale April 12th
A beautifully recounted story of the longest game in baseball history—a tale celebrating not only the robust intensity of baseball, but the aspirational ideal epitomized by the hard-fighting players of the minor leagues.
And of course, and especially because my son starts t-ball this year:
Casey at the Bat by Ernest L. Thayer
Ernest Thayer's classic tale of baseball hopes and dreams comes to life like never before in this gift-book edition with LeRoy Neiman's lush, meticulously detailed charcoal drawings and an original introduction by Yankees manager Joe Torre, considered by many to be the greatest baseball manager of all time.