As someone who has about 500 baseball books sitting on his shelves, you might imagine it’s very difficult to choose a starting nin,e but I gave it a shot.
I have a friend coming over from Europe in about ten days who’s never been to a baseball game [we're going to two games when he's here], and he will receive a copy of each of these from me to take back.
1. The boys of Summer  Roger Kahn- A combination memoir and profile of the early 1950′s Brooklyn Dodgers is considered one of the greatest sports books ever written– not just about baseball, but all sports. Kahn covered the team as a young newspaper reporter. It’s about the team that broke the color barrier and weaves from the 1930′s to 1970′s, years later after the players have retired.
2. The bullpen Gospels  Dirk Hayhurst- Baseball serves as a backdrop for a deeply personal narrative that anyone can relate to. It has plenty in common with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It’s seen through the lens of a struggling minor league ball player in his personal life and on the field
3. The soul of Baseball: A road trip through Buck O’Neil’s America  Joe Posnanski- An award-winning sports columnist and a Negro Leagues legend tour the country to recapture the joy of Americas pastime. It is an awe- inspiring book.
4. 9 innings: Anatomy of a Baseball Game  Daniel Okrent, Wilfred Sheed- You’ll never watch a Baseball game the same again. This book dissects a single game played in June of 1982 — inning by inning, play by play. He choose a random game because as he reveals, baseball, no matter, has and always will be the same.
5. Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards  Josh Wilker- this is a book about fandom and how it ties into family and memories of childhood in the 1970′s America, wrapped around the backdrop of baseball cards and stale bubble gum.
6. Teammates  David Halberstam- piecing together the four stories of teammates Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio. About their early life, their time in the majors and how they stayed connected after they all retired. Doerr doesn’t make the trip across country, but is there in spirit as the other two do to see Williams in his final stages of life.
7. Seasons in Hell  Mike Shropshire- As a lifelong Rangers fan, this was always a must read. This book offers a riotous, candid account of Shropshire’s adventures covering the team for the Ft. Worth Star Telegram from 1973-1975.
8. The Road to Cooperstown: A Father, Two Sons, and the Journey of a Lifetime  Tom Stanton- The title says it all. I can’t recommend this book enough. I made the journey in 2008 and can’t wait until my son is old enough to go back and take him.
9. The glory of Their Times: Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told By Men Who Played It  Lawerence Ritter- In the words of 26 players, the story describes what it was like to play baseball at the turn of the century and the decades shortly thereafter.
One more off the bench…
10. Wait Til Next Year  Doris Kearns Goodwin- Memoir growing up a Catholic in the ’50′s in love with the Dodgers, celebrating their long awaited World Series championship in 1955, to them breaking her heart and moving to Los Angeles.
I could list many, many more books to read but nine players on the field, so nine books - plus it’s my list. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to borrow some. Remember, I have over 500 and the number grows monthly. What are your favorite baseball books?