At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

A Mostly Baseball Winter Reading List

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 23, 2012

As I finish reading books about the Union Pacific Railroad, The Calhoun era at UConn, and Babe Ruth’s short ghosted book about his early life & career, I have stopped to make reading plans for the chilly winter.

Within the stack there are titles I want to read and others I feel compelled to read.

Below are the titles and a few words as to why I chose them.  Good luck building your own list.

A Great & Glorious Game.  The Baseball Writings of A. Bartlett Giamatti.

Published 9 years after his death, this little book is a thoughtful meditation on baseball and character and life.  I feel that I owe it to the man to read it. 

Women At Play:  The Story of Women in Baseball.  Barbara Gregorich.

A comprehensive history of the roles that women have played in pro ball, beginning in 1869.  The author is a lively member of a facebook group in which I chat.  The subject is fairly interesting.  But I want to sample Barbara’s writing first and foremost.

Balldom:  The Britannica of Baseball.  George Moreland.

The full title includes, “Comprising Growth of the Game in Detail. A Complete History of the National and American Leagues. First and Only Authentic Chronology Ever Published. Voluminous Records and Absolutely Accurate Statistics. Fascinating Facts for Fans of America’s Greatest Sport from 1845 to 1914”.

I was lucky to pick up a worn copy of this 98 year old book inexpensively.  I’m a sucker for pre-1930 bargain BB books.  I don’t know why they are intoxicating.  They just are.

Baseball in the Big Leagues.  Johnny Evers.

Originally published as “Touching second”, this 102 year old book is a round-up of Base Ball in Evers’ era, with 15 photos of the greats, like Cobb, Mathewson & Wagner.  Again, lucky me, I picked this up cheaply.  I expect to be transported into an era of rough play and fancy talk.

The Student Loan Scam: the most oppressive debt in U.S History and how we can fight back.  Alan Michael Collinge.

I’m reading this book and it is personal.  My kids are 19, 21 and 25.  We have had to navigate college debt in 3 waves.  Ironically, if my kids were 26, 28 and 32, we’d be sailing along without too much pressure.  College costs doubled from 2003 to 2009.  This book tells the tale of one young man who got deeply in debt, defaulted on his loans, was nailed by hideous added penalties in the multiple 5-figures, and found that the Government provides no support for the indentured.

Hearts of Darkness.  James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Cat Stevens and the unlikely rise of the singer songwriter.  Dave Thompson.

This is a new book.  There is nostalgic appeal for me.  I’d pay to see James Taylor.  In my college years, they taught with Taylor’s lyrics in English classes.  Browne & Stevens are also intruiging. 

The Juju Rules. Or, How to Win Ballgames from Your Couch: A Memoir of a Fan Obsessed.  Hart Seeley.

Do you believe in not saying “this guy’s pitching a no-hitter.” when a no-no is in progress ?  I do.  I don’t care what Dennis Eckersley says.  Tradition and superstition cross paths in baseball. You have to be crazy to mess with that.  This book is about a guy (granted, a funny guy) who works his juju for the Evil Empire.

One Last Strike.  Tony LaRussa.

A must read.  This is the man who took bullpen management to the next level.  The guy who mananged 2 fallen mega stars in Canseco & McGwire.  The dude who managed HOF’ers Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk, and briefly, Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton.  Not to mention studs George Foster, Ozzie Guillen, Chris Carpenter, Harold Baines, Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols.  33 years of managing, with 9 Division flags, 6 pennants & 6 World Championships should tell quite a story.

The Commisioners:  Baseball’s Mid-life Crisis.  Jerome Holtzman.

For me, the façade has already been removed from K.M. Landis, F. Frick and all the others.  I see Bud Selig as little different from all of his predecessors, other than Landis, who might not have been a stooge but was certainly a racist.  I look forward to learning how Mr. Holtzman frames the discussion about a facinating subject.

Baseball’s Natural: The Story of Eddie Waitkus.  John Theodore & Ira Berkow.

The bio of the player who was shot in his hotel room by a deranged female fan, just like Robert Redford in that movie.

Hi, Everybody !  Herb Carneal with Stew Thornley.

Carneal was the radio broadcaster for the Minnesota Twins from ’62 to ’06.  From Killebrew to Joe Mauer, Carneal was an eye witness to expansion and world championships.  As an added attraction, his co-author, Thornley, is a brilliant guy and speaker.

Game Six.  Mark Frost.

As a Soxaholic, this book is required reading.  One entire book devoted to the Oct. 21, 1975 game in which Fisk hit the fabled home run.

You Can’t Hit the Ball with the Bat on your Shoulder. The Life and Times of Bobby Bragan.  Bobby Bragan with Jeff Guin.

The biography of a 1940’s ballplayer who clashed with Branch Rickey when he brought Robinson up in ’47 to break the color barrier.  Bragan, who passed in 2010, was known to be a wonderful raconteur. 

That’s my list for winter reading.  What is yours ?

Go Sox.

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