501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die, Ron Kaplan (2013)
Kaplan’s been writing about baseball books for years so he’s the ideal writer for this project. He hasn’t read everything but has read enough that I’m confident the titles he features will be entertaining and informative for anyone needing a baseball reading list. The book covers books from the 19th century until 2012, with fifteen chapters covering all aspects of nonfiction and a limited selection of fiction, including children’s books. Unless you’re very widely read you won’t have heard of most of these books. I even found an extensive list of books I hadn’t heard of and wanted to read. Most were available in Minnesota public libraries. Since I read this book in 2013, I’ve been reading from these lists and it’s made for lots of fun reading!
100 Things Twins Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, Alex Halsted (2011)
I picked this up at the library as a comparison tool for reviewing the recently released Brewers volume in this series. It’s definitely a formula, but it works. At the time he wrote this, Halsted was a college student and a baseball blogger, not a working journalist. He has a great grasp on Twins history, covering a lot of great 1960s and 1970s moments as well as the famous more recent World Series wins and the tough 1990s. Like the other books in the series, it covers fans and ballpark experiences. Some of it seems like team PR, but it’s kind of expected out of a book with this theme. It’s to get new fans excited about the team and refresh less recent fans about what they may have missed or have forgotten about. I wish some of the people I’ve been stuck next to at Target Field had read this book. (To the team’s credit, this book and lots of other books on the Twins are available in the team store at the field. Go Team Books!)
Game Six: Cincinnati, Boston, and the 1975 World Series, Mark Frost (2009)
Why not Game 7, when the Reds actually won? This was the game of Fisk’s famous home run, concluding 12 innings of drama that kept the Red Sox alive for one more day. Yes, you can get 400 pages of book out of 12 innings of baseball, but maybe you shouldn’t. Thus the interesting parts weren’t about the game itself but the things around the game: the 3-day rain delay before it, the drama surrounding the change in television contracts with NBC losing its baseball exclusive to ABC beginning with the 1976 season, Sparky Anderson’s managerial style, and the life story of Luis Tiant. I want the Tiant book instead.
You Gotta Have Heart: A History of Washington Baseball From 1859 to the 2012 National League East Champions, Frederic J. Frommer (2013)
I believe this may be a revision of Frommer’s earlier book about D.C. baseball published when the Nationals were moved from Montreal to Washington, updated including the Nationals since then with an emphasis on their 2012 NL East-winning season and heartbreaking playoff collapse. If you’re looking for in-depth analysis on any aspect of Washington baseball, look elsewhere; this book is all about dates, small facts, and fans. It’s less than 250 pages of text that hits on all aspects of D.C.’s baseball history: the original Senators, the Negro Leagues (particularly the Homestead Grays,) the expansion-era Senators, and the current Nationals as well as covering fandom and the intersection of politicians and baseball. Of course it isn’t in-depth. I’ve read 300+-page books on Bryce Harper alone; how can you cover Walter Johnson and Harmon Killebrew in depth in less than that? But as an intro for new Nats fans, it can’t be challenged until the Nats win it all. (This book was received as part of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program)