Submitted by Mark Woodard
As you know, the 2020 baseball season has been delayed and a lot of us are getting a little anxious. There is, however, a great way to keep the national pastime in your thoughts…
Here are some terrific baseball stories for your reading pleasure that will keep you entertained, informed, and – hopefully – a little less anxious.
The Natural by Bernard Malamud
Some say this is the best baseball novel ever written. The story of Roy Hobbs, the superbly gifted “natural” baseball player at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era. A classic fable that really gets at the mythology of baseball.
Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella
“If you build it, he will come.” These mysterious words inspire Ray Kinsella to create a cornfield baseball diamond in honor of his hero, Shoeless Joe Jackson. What follows is a rich, nostalgic look at our past and a remarkable story about fathers and sons, love and family. Kevin Costner starred in the hit movie version (Field of Dreams).
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.
Calico Joe by John Grisham
A blend of fact and fiction, it is the story of Joe Castle, who in the summer of 1973, was the boy wonder of baseball, the greatest rookie anyone had ever seen who quickly became the idol of every baseball fan in America. But then a fateful pitch changed Joe’s life forever. Grisham makes an exciting departure from his usual legal thrillers.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
Horror master Stephen King is also a tremendous baseball fan. In this brisk psychological horror story, nine year old Trisha is separated from her father and gets lost along the Appalachian Trail with only her portable radio for comfort. A huge fan of Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Tom Gordon, she listens to baseball games and fantasizes that her hero will save her. Nature isn’t her only adversary, though – something dangerous may be tracking Trisha through the dark woods.
The Cactus League by Emily Nemens
Jason Goodyear is the star outfielder for the Los Angeles Lions, stationed with the rest of his team in the punishingly hot Arizona desert for their annual spring training. Handsome, famous, and talented, Goodyear is nonetheless coming apart at the seams. And the coaches, writers, wives, girlfriends, petty criminals, and diehard fans following his every move are eager to find out why–as they hide secrets of their own.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
The Oakland Athletics have a secret: a winning baseball team is made, not bought. A story about money, science, entertainment, and egos, Moneyball traces the remarkable success of the Athletics, a major league team with a minor league budget. Lewis describes a once-unusual strategy that has become a standard approach to the game.
Fastpitch: The Untold History of Softball and the Women Who Made the Game by Erica Westly
The hidden tale of the forgotten beginnings of one of the most popular and widely played sports today, Westly chronicles softball’s unique history and is a celebration of this distinctively American game and the role it plays in our culture.
The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-clearing Brawls : the Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime by Jason Turbow
An insider’s look at baseball’s unwritten rules, explained with examples from the game’s most fascinating characters and wildest historical moments. Old-timers and all-time greats share their insights into the game’s most hallowed and least known traditions. Illuminating and thoroughly entertaining.
Rickey & Robinson: The True, Untold Story of the Integration of Baseball by Roger Kahn
Legendary sportswriter Kahn reveals the true, unsanitized account of the integration of baseball, a story that for decades has relied on inaccurate, second-hand reports. An in-depth examination of the two men chiefly responsible for making integration happen: baseball executive Branch Rickey and superstar player Jackie Robinson.
The Crackers: Early Days of Atlanta Baseball by Tim Darnell
AJC journalist Darnell chronicles the emergence of minor-league baseball in Atlanta from just after the Civil War through the rise of the Crackers (1901-65).Featuring player interviews, illustrations, charts and statistics, Darnell examines the drama and politics that affected the team. Also profiled are the Black Crackers, Atlanta’s Negro Southern League franchise whose success and popularity paralleled those of their white counterparts. A light-hearted, fun, and engrossing history of a time and a people,
Ballplayer by Chipper Jones
Atlanta Braves third baseman and National Hall of Famer Chipper Jones—one of the greatest switch-hitters in baseball history—shares his remarkable story, while capturing the magic nostalgia that sets baseball apart from every other sport. A great read for local fans, Jones is that rare breed: a player who spent his entire career with the same organization.
Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Set in the 1950s New York suburbs, Goodwin shares stories of her early life: a mother, who taught her the joy of books and a father, who taught her the joy of baseball and to root for the Dodgers of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, and Gil Hodges. Most important, Goodwin describes with eloquence how the Dodgers’ leaving Brooklyn in 1957, and the death of her mother soon after, marked both the end of an era and, for her, the end of childhood.