Coming down the pike: New baseball books for 2018

November 13, 2017

These are my favorite posts, taking a look at what new baseball books are on the horizon.

A few notes: Traditional print rules the land here here. There may be a Kindle edition involved, but no Kindle-only titles are included herein. Second, Amazon does not want top make my life easier. I practically never include books for younger readers, but there’s no filter for that so I have to do it myself. Also, there’s a surprising number of “adult fiction” that features a baseball theme. Sorry, not here. Finally, the book has be only about baseball, so that excludes a release like Fun City: John Lindsay, Joe Namath, and How Sports Saved New York in the 1960s, which actually came out in 2015 but for some reason was listed among the 2018 titles.

So here we go.

The first honor, by my narrow limits, that qualifies as the first baseball book of 2018 goes to Tom Gamboa: My Life in Baseball, by Gamboa and David Russell. It comes out via McFarland on January 5. McFarland, for those of you who are unfamiliar, specializes in eclectic topics and people.

Next we have Beep: Inside the Unseen World of Baseball for the Blind, by David Wanczyk (Swallow Press, Jan. 9).

Third, Ron Shandler’s 2018 Baseball Forecaster: Encyclopedia of Fanalytics from Triumph, another publisher that specializes in sports titles, Jan. 15.

The others — in order of release as per Amazon — include:

  • Baseball America 2018 Almanac
  • The Call to the Hall: When Baseball’s Highest Honor Came to 31 Legends of the Sport, by Kevin Warneke and David C. Ogden (McFarland)
  • Motor City Champs: Mickey Cochrane and the 1934-1935 Detroit Tigers, by Scott Ferkovich (McFarland)
  • Whitey Herzog Builds a Winner: The St. Louis Cardinals, 1979-1982, by Doug Feldmann (McFarland)
  • The Immaculate Inning: Unassisted Triple Plays, 40/40 Seasons, and the Stories Behind Baseball’s Rarest Feats , by Joe Cox (Lyons Press)
  • Swinging for the Fences: Black Baseball in Minnesota, by Steven R. Hoffbeck (McFarland)
  • Biz Mackey, a Giant behind the Plate: The Story of the Negro League Star and Hall of Fame Catcher, by Rich Westcott (Temple University Press)
  • Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox, by Bill Nowlin (University of Nebraska Press)
  • Game of My Life: New York Mets: Memorable Stories of Mets Baseball, by Michael Garry (Sports Publishing)
  • Koufax Throws a Curve: The Los Angeles Dodgers at the End of an Era, 1964–1966, by Brian M. Endsley (McFarland)
  • Baseball Rowdies of the 19th Century: Brawlers, Drinkers, Pranksters and Cheats in the Early Days of the Major Leagues, by Eddie Mitchell (McFarland)
  • Baseball America 2018 Prospect Handbook
  • 50 Greatest Players in Indians History, by Robert W. Cohen (Blue River)
  • Manager of Giants: The Tactics, Temper and True Record of John McGraw, by Lou Hernandez (McFarland)
  • Babe Ruth and the Creation of the Celebrity Athlete, by Thomas Barthel (McFarland)
  • Baseball Greatness: Top Players and Teams According to Wins Above Average, 1901-2016, by David Kaiser (McFarland)
  • New York Yankees Openers: An Opening Day History of Baseball’s Most Famous Team, 1903-2017, by Lyle Spatz (McFarland)
  • 2018 Minor League Baseball Analyst, by Jeremy Deloney and Rob Gordon (Triumph)
  • Painting the Corners Again: Off-Center Baseball Fiction by [Weintraub, Bob]Painting the Corners Again: Off-Center Baseball Fiction, by Bob Weintraub (Skyhorse)
  • Insight Pitch: My Life as a Major League Closer, by Skip Lockwood (Sports Publishing)
  • Fall from Grace: The Truth and Tragedy of “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, by Tim Hornbaker (Sports Publishing)
  • Baseball Italian Style: Great Stories Told by Italian American Major Leaguers from Crosetti to Piazza, by Lawrence Baldassaro (Sports Publishing)
  • The Baby Bombers: An Inside Look at the Young Stars Forming the Next Yankees Dynasty, by Bryan Hoch (Diversion)
  • Try Not to Suck: The Exceptional, Extraordinary Baseball Life of Joe Maddon, by Bill Chastain and Jesse Rogers (Triumph)
  • Dick Bosman on Pitching: Lessons from the Life of a Major League Ballplayer and Pitching Coach, by Dick Bosman and Ted Leavengood (Rowman & Littlefield)
  • Why Baseball Matters, by Susan Jacoby (Yale University Press)
  • Gator: My Life in Pinstripes, by Ron Guidry (Crown Archetype)
  • Ninety Percent Mental: An All-Star Player Turned Mental Skills Coach Reveals the Hidden Game of Baseball, by Bob Tewksbury and Scott Miller (Da Capo Press)
  • Home of the Braves: The Battle for Baseball in Milwaukee, by Patrick Steele (University of Wisconsin Press)
  • Miracle in Shreveport: A Memoir of Baseball, Fatherhood, and the Stadium that Launched a Dream, by David Benham and Jason Benham (Thomas Nrlson)
  • A Season in the Sun: The Rise of Mickey Mantle, by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith (Basic Books)
  • Alou: My Baseball Journey, by Felipe Alou and Peter Kerasotis (University of Nebraska Press)
  • The Pitcher and the Dictator: Satchel Paige’s Unlikely Season in the Dominican Republic, by Averell “Ace” Smith (University of Nebraska Press)
  • The Shift: The Next Evolution in Baseball Thinking, by Russell A. Carleton (Triumph)
  • Gehrig and the Babe: The Friendship and the Feud, by Tony Castro (Triumph)
  • Singles and Smiles: How Artie Wilson Broke Baseball’s Color Barrier, by Gaylon H. White(Rowman & Littlefield)
  • Tinker to Evers to Chance: The Chicago Cubs and the Dawn of Modern America, by David Rapp (University of Chicago Press)
  • The Cloudbuster Nine: The Untold Story of Ted Williams and the Baseball Team Who Helped Win World War II, by Anne Keene (Sports Publishing)
  • The Hometown Team: Forty Years of Boston Red Sox Photography, by Mike Shalin and Steve Babineau (Sports Publishing)
  • Miracle Moments in New York Mets History: The Turning Points, The Memorable Games, The Incredible Records, by Brett Topel (Sports Publishing)
  • The Dodgers: 60 Years in Los Angeles, by Michael Schiavone (Sports Publishing)
  • Cuba Loves Baseball: A Photographic Journey, by Ira Block (Skyhorse)
  • A Game of Moments: Baseball Greats Remember Highlights of Their Careers, by Ron Gerrard (McFarland)
  • Pinstripe Nation: The New York Yankees in American Culture, by William Carlson Bishop (University Tennessee Press)
  • Baseball and the Occupation of Japan: America’s Pastime as a Tool to Promote Social Values, by Takeshi Tanikawa (McFarland)
  • Being Ted Williams: Growing Up with a Baseball Idol, by Dick Enberg (Sports Publishing)
  • Once Upon a Team: The Epic Rise and Historic Fall of Baseball’s Wilmington Quicksteps, by John Springer (Sports Publishing)
  • Hawk: Duck Snorts, Chip Shots, and My Free-Swinging Life On and Off the Field, by Ken “Hawk” Harrelson and Jeff Snook (Triumph)
  • Warren Spahn: A Biography of the Legendary Lefty, by Lew Freedman (Sports Publishing)
  • The Comic Book Story of Baseball: The Heroes, Hustlers, and History-Making Swings (and Misses) of America’s National Pastime, by Alex Irvine, Tomm Coker, and C.P. Smith (Ten Speed)
  • Invisible Ball of Dreams: Literary Representations of Baseball behind the Color Line, by Emily Ruth Rutter (University of Mississippi Press) 70
  • Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond, by Davey Johnson and Erik Sherman (Triumph)
  • I’m Keith Hernandez, by Keith Hernandez (Little Brown and Company)
  • Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition, by Jon Weisman (Triumph)
  • Breaking Babe Ruth: Baseball’s Campaign Against Its Biggest Star, by Edmund F. Wehrle (University of Missouri Press)
  • The Integration of the Pacific Coast League: Race and Baseball on the West Coast, by Amy Essington (University of Nebraska Press)
  • The Presidents and the Pastime: The History of Baseball and the White House, by Curt Smith (University of Nebraska Press)
  • The Age of Ruth and Landis: The Economics of Baseball during the Roaring Twenties, by David George Surdam and Michael J. Haupert
  • Bat Flips and Fat Lips: Pulling Back the Curtain On Baseball’s Unwritten Rules, by Gregg Zaun and Danny Knobler (Triumph)
  • Joy in Tiger Town: A Determined Team, a Resilient City, and our Magical Run to the 1968 World Series, by Mickey Lolich and Tom Gage (Triumph)
  • A Franchise on the Rise: The First Twenty Years of the New York Yankees, by Dom Amore (Sports Publishing)
  • An October to Remember 1968: The Tigers-Cardinals World Series as Told by the Men Who Played in It, by Brendan Donley (Sports Publishing)

A few notes:

The release dates listed here run until the middle of the year; no doubt there will be more. The majority of the books come from McFarland and Triumph, both of which do tend to announce early. Topics which seem more scholarly usually come from university presses. I have also omitted a number of “series books.”

We have the requisite titles about the New York Yankees. But three books about Babe Ruth? Plus two about Ted Williams and one on Mickey Mantle. Plus there’s the seemingly annual nod to Shoeless Joe Jackson.

I’m Keith Hernandez isn’t just an introduction by the popular Met and broadcasters. It’s the famous line he delivered during his guest stint on Seinfeld. But do we really need a fourth book by the outspoken star? There are also books written by lesser players (all due respect) such as Gregg Zaun, Skip Lockwood and Dick Bosman.

Anniversaries are always popular, especially when they’re major (25th, 50th, etc.), hence the books on the Detroit Tigers. And when you think about it, perhaps Sports Publishing should have waited until next year to release Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War, since that would have been a milestone anniversary of his 1938 season. But a few books about the 1968 season that came out this year have already told us not to wax too nostalgic; the Tigers were not the gathering place that Detroit residents gathered to escape from the racial unrest that plagued many larger cities in the U.S.

As for me, I’m most looking forward to are Babe Ruth and the Creation of the Celebrity Athlete, although Glenn Stout seemed to cover at least a part of that in The Selling of the Babe: The Deal That Changed Baseball and Created a Legend (2016); The Presidents and the Pastime: The History of Baseball and the White House, by the always reliable Curt Smith; The Comic Book Story of Baseball: The Heroes, Hustlers, and History-Making Swings (and Misses) of America’s National Pastime by Alex Irvine, whose past work has generally been in the area of fantasy and pop culture; and finally, the existential Why Baseball Matters, because I’m sure a lot of fans have asked themselves why they should bother with the sport, especially when their favorite teams are doing poorly.

I’m also quite interested to see how Bill Nowlin, who’s made a career on writing about the Red Sox, portrays team owner Yawkey, who’s generally regarded as a racist who screwed the Sox out of many successful seasons by refusing to have black players on the team.




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