Friday, August 20, 2010

Searching for the Best Baseball Books of 2010

So many titles, so little time. With just over four months left in the year, the search for the best baseball books of 2010 is getting serious.

Last year I collaborated on a Best of 2009 list with Ron Kaplan, of Baseball Bookshelf fame. Our top choice was Heart of the Game, by S.L. Price. That was the Mike Coolbaugh story and was heart-breaking in places. Other favorites from 2009 included Bruce Weber's As They See 'Em and Larry Tye's Satchel. Here's a link to the full list.

Some of my favorites this year include Josh Wilker's Cardboard Gods, Dirk Hayhurst's Bullpen Gospels, Edward Achorn's Fifty-nine in '84, and Jeff Gillenkirk's Home, Away. I've made it through 20 titles so far. Here they are, with links to my reviews:

Beyond Batting Average - Lee Panas
Blockade Billy - Stephen King
Bullpen Gospels - Dirk Hayhurst
Cardboard Gods - Josh Wilker
Evaluating Baseball's Managers - Chris Jaffe
Fifty-nine in '84 - Edward Achorn
The Heater - John Conlee
High Heat - Tim Wendel
Home, Away - Jeff Gillenkirk
It's What's Inside the Lines That Counts - Fay Vincent (not yet reviewed)
Joe Cronin - Mark Armour
The Man with Two Arms - Billy Lombardo
Our White Boy - Jerry Craft (review not yet posted)
Reggie Jackson - Dayn Perry
Rickwood Field - Allen Barra
Roger Maris - Tom Clavin and Danny Peary
Satch, Dizzy & Rapid Robert - Timothy Gay (review not yet posted)
The T206 Collection - Tom and Ellen Zappala
Top of the Order - Sean Manning
Willie Mays - James S. Hirsch

I've still got quite a list to work through, including several that I expect will be strong candidates for the Best of 2010 list. Here's they are:

1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York - Lyle Spatz and Steve Steinberg
Diamond Ruby - Joseph Wallace
Big Hair and Plastic Grass - Dan Epstein
The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood - Jane Leavy
The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron - Howard Bryant
Steinbrenner - Bill Madden
The Game from Where I Stand - Doug Glanville
Are We Winning?: Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball - Will Leitch
90% of the Game Is Half Mental - Emma Span
Mint Condition - Dave Jamieson
Kiss It Goodbye - John Moody

Am I missing anything? If you have a suggestion for a book that should be considered, let me know. Remember, it has to have been released in 2010 to be considered.

I welcome your comments as well if you'd like to vote for a favorite or two from this year.


  1. The new Charlie Finley biography is worth a look, especially as a companion to Big Hair and Plastic Grass. Mint Condition has its moments, and I really enjoyed Leitch's book.

  2. How about my book "Final Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1972-2008." The last several documents deal with the Mitchell Report and the Congressional investigation of Clemens et al., but many other documents included are of interest.

    Dean Sullivan

  3. Hank, Thanks for the suggestion on the Finley book.

    Dean, I will add Final Innings to my list. There was a copy in the last box I got from the Baseball America office. I'll get back to you when I've had a chance to read it.

  4. I agree with Dean. His previous books have been a nice time capsule for the game.

  5. Hi James - I agree with your top choice for 2009, and the three titles that you mention first for 2010 happen to be my favorites as well: Cardboard Gods, Bullpen Gospels, and Fifty-nine in'84. I've reviewed each of them in the past couple months.
    Thanks for all the other great recommendations!

  6. It might be nice to add a female author/player to your list ... I forgot to mention another great story I reviewed earlier this month: Martha Ackmann, Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone. Definitely deserves a place on your list and on any baseball fan's bookshelf.

  7. Watchingthegame: Thanks for the suggestion on Curveball. I'm going to need a time machine to get through all these books by December.