April is here, the sun is shining, the weather is warming and baseball is back. To me, nothing is more synonymous with spring and summer than baseball. To catch a game, we sit outside under the sun, snack on hot dogs and popcorn, enjoy a cold beer or soda and watch a game that has been played for over a century.
As a sport, baseball has had a history of change. This year, there are new rules to shorten the length of the game in order to draw more interest. But, changes such as a night games, stadium lights and dome ballparks were new and controversial at one point, too. Baseball history is also steeped in controversy, from cheating scandals and gambling to steroid use. To me, baseball is so special because of this rich history, a history that is best traced through books. At the library, our Sports and Games neighborhood on the second floor contains a nice collection for new and old fans alike.
The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence S. Ritter – Considered to be the quintessential baseball history, this book gives an account on the early days of baseball told by the players themselves, including Edd Roush, Rube Marquard, Goose Goslin, Sam Crawford, and Hank Greenberg.
Rickey & Robinson by Roger Khan – One of the most important moments in baseball history was the integration of the sport, when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. In this book, Khan, a prolific sportswriter, tells the full and accurate history through exclusive reporting and personal reminiscences.
Cheated by Andy Martino – In the past five years, no scandal has rocked sports the way the Astros cheating scandal has. In “Cheated,” Martino tells the story of how the scandal happened, the background of “sign-stealing” and how the Astros, while cheating, went on to win it all.
The 34-ton Bat by Steve Rushin – Baseball is, at its core, a sentimental sport. We remember childhood jerseys, trinkets and baseball cards. In this book, Rushin explores the objects that make baseball what it is, from jockstraps to peanuts to bobbleheads.
The Catcher Was A Spy by Nicholas Dawidoff and September 1918 by Skip Desjardin – Baseball’s history is interwoven with America’s history. These two books tell the story of baseball and how the game and its players were affected by war, both at home and abroad.
Moneyball by Michael Lewis – Baseball is more than putting together a team of the most talented players. “Moneyball” tells the story of Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s as they built a winning team economically by using analytics.
These are just a few of the titles that highlight baseball’s storied history. The full list contains many more, including films like The Natural and Field of Dreams, that highlight the emotions of baseball. So, get your scorecards and Cracker Jack ready. We’ll see you at the ballpark.