Editor’s note: This twist on the popular theme of favorite baseball books comes from the Facebook Baseball Book group. A lot of interesting and surprising choices here. Different strokes for different folks. Because I don’t want the risk of lawsuits (or bodily harm), I have removed the identities of the commenters and have edited it as lightly as possible and take no responsibilities for any typos that appear here; I have enough trouble with my own work.
Relieved to see no one listed 501 Baseball among the titles.
♦ Nine Sides of the Diamond. I think I finished before I got to the pitcher and catcher. Just bored by it. I’ve probably given up on fewer than 10 books in my lifetime out of thousands started, and that includes massive tomes like Shelby Foote’s Civil War.
♦ I Never Had it Made, by Jackie Robinson. I felt he really didn’t go into much detail about his career and it was filled with politics and whatnot he second half. I stopped about a chapter after his career was over. The whole book, as far as I read had a very bitter tone to it. I understand if he was bitter about racism but I don’t wanna read something that’s bitter like that.
♦ The Black Prince of Baseball. Dewey and Acocella took a real literary approach to the bio, and for me it was an extremely thick, plodding read that took me forever to finish.
♦ Nails, by Lenny Dykstra. The worst baseball book ever published.
♦ The Complete Game, by Keith Hernandez was very dry and I know some folks love it but I got bored after a while.
♦ Men at Work by George Will. It reads like a pair of bloomers from the 1800s filled with hot air. He’s neither as poetic nor as prosaic as he imagines himself to be.
♦ George Castle’s book on baseball and the media. I don’t remember much of it other than it was bad and he wrote for “The Times of Northwest Indiana.”
♦ I forget the name but it is about baseball in the Dominican Republic. It was not much about baseball history on island as it is was about the poor economic conditions that led to baseball being the only way out for those trapped on the island.
♦ The one about the Texas Rangers of the mid 70s. I think it was called Seasons in Hell. It was too much about bar hopping and not enough about the team.
♦ I found Arnold Rampersad’s bio of Jackie Robinson to be unreadable.
♦ Michael D’Antonio’s error-riddled apology for Walter O’Malley, Forever Blue.
♦ I might have tried the Will book too. He can suck the life out of any subject.
♦ Biography about Sam Rice; it was boring.
♦ Chicken Soup for the Baseball Lovers Soul. Just too many tugs at the heart strings.
♦ My 66 Years in the Big Leagues by Connie Mack. Less of an autobiography and more of a history of baseball according to Mack.
♦ There was a book written about Billy Hamilton a few years back. I read the whole thing but it was very repetitive. It was a 100 page book drawn out to 200 pages. I thought about stopping but I wanted to see what he did after his career was over so I decided to finish. Was very hard though. (Editor’s note: Pretty sure this refers to Josh Hamilton’s book.)
♦ One I did finish but thought was really padded was A Clever Base-Ballist, about the very interesting John Montgomery Ward.
♦ The Physics of Baseball. I am into the sciences, but did not enjoy a book with page after page explaining the physics equations explaining the impact of humidity on the flight of a baseball.
♦ Moneyball. The stuff that the A’s were/are doing that makes baseball sense was done starting right after World War I by Branch Rickey. And Rickey was a much more interesting character than Billy Beane ever could be.
♦ Mel Ott, The Gentle Giant by Alfred M. Martin. The book is only 146 pages and the cost was $41. The first half of the book is about Mel Ott. The second half covers things such as Bobby Thomson’s home run and the Giants moving to San Francisco. Overpriced and disappointing.
♦ One of my brothers gave me Tim McCarver’s Baseball for Brain Surgeons and Other Fans. Since it was a gift from a good brother, I tried my best to get through it, but I just couldn’t take any more after a few chapters. And I’ve read my fair share of boring tomes,
♦ Pull Up A Chair by Curt Smith. I barely got through 50 pages. Poorly organized. It made little sense and did not flow at all. I was very disappointed because I wanted to read a good bio of Vin Scully.
♦ Haft and Alan’s This Is Our Time!, about the 2010 Giants. Written by two columnists desperately trying to stretch an 800-word column to book length. I still have it on my shelf, but only because it was a gift from my daughter.
♦ Tom Lasorda’s book. I think its title was The Artful Dodger. It was just boring.
♦ I give a second vote to Tim McCarver’s book, Baseball for Brain Surgeons. Book was too technical and difficult to read, even for a die-hard baseball fan like myself and everybody else on this site. I took Sandy Alderson’s new book out of the library, but returned it after only reading about 50 pages as it seems to be full of propaganda making Alderson sound like the best GM ever.
♦ I may have previously linked Bill James’s review of McCarver’s Baseball for Brain Surgeons and Will’s Bunts. It’s one of the best reviews I’ve ever read. He skewers both authors with his wonderful dry wit.
♦ Bill James knows how to write about baseball. How many people could make something called The Historical Baseball Abstract an easy read from cover to cover over 1000 pages?
♦ I may not have given it a fair shot but I found Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game a bit too dry for my taste. It just didn’t pull me in.
♦ Voices of the Game by Curt Smith. A history of baseball broadcasting, which I would normally find interesting but it was way too long and detailed. Only for the diehard broadcasting history buffs. He has a book out called The Storytellers that is on the same subject and less than half the length that is on my shelf and may one day get onto my reading list.
♦ The book about Fidrych’s bio. Written for a 5 year old. Never finished it. Expected more. His legend was exactly what baseball needed at the time and his death tragic. Maybe I should try again?
♦ Voices of the Game was a 623-page slog but I did finish it, due to the abundance of good info and in spite of Curt Smith’s pedestrian writing. I liked the Fidrych book; he was a simple New England guy and did not need an academic tome written about him.
♦ Calico Joe AND The Art of Fielding – both drivel
♦ Sandy Koufax. I forget what title, but it was just filled with extraneous profanity. (Editor’s note: I have read just about every Koufax bio and can’t for the life of me figure out what this refers to. I guess “extraneous” is a relative term.)
♦ Sadaharu Oh: A Zen Way of Baseball is the book I am having trouble finishing. It is interesting in parts but over all I just cannot finish it.
♦ Shawn Green’s The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 MPH is a book that I did not finish. It did not draw me in and there were probably other “offenses”. It is a rare book,maybe only a half dozen,baseball or other that I do not finish.
♦ Boys of Summer. Just plain boring