I played baseball for one season in 4th grade, maybe 3rd, and I had no idea how the game of baseball worked. My three primary memories from that season were: 1) Nearly crying after I struck out, 2) being genuinely surprised when I caught a fly ball in center field, and 3) hating baseball. My first experience was deeply off-putting, and so I “chose” football in the way children take sides because they think side-taking is important. The result of this being that I didn’t come around to baseball for a long time. Of course, I did come around eventually, otherwise why else would I waste 2-6 minutes of your life twice a week writing for NotGraphs.
I was visiting colleges in Boston during the 2004 ALCS/World Series and fell in love (juicily, tenderly, eternally) with that postseason. Shortly thereafter my friend David introduced me to Fire Joe Morgan, and my parents bought me Moneyball for Christmas. In maybe 4 months my opinion on baseball changed from “meh, I’d rather not” to “YES YES PLEASE MORE WHAT IS THIS GLORIOUS MYSTERY.”
The point of all this personal back-story bullshit, besides being my personal outlet for missing baseball and feeling nostalgic about the season and all that bullshit, is to explain to you that for most of my life I missed out on baseball as an American cultural experience. I’ve never seen Bull Durham or Bad News Bears. I’ve never read any baseball books besides Moneyball and some passages from The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. Even though I’ve obviously had time to catch up since 2004, there’s always been a steady rush of other media to waste my life on, and I remain a woefully undereducated baseball lover.
This offseason it’s my goal to catch up. Below I’ve made a list of books, films, and other media that I haven’t seen/read/consumed, or that I have consumed but want to re-consume because it’s been too long. What this can be for you, hopefully, is a reminder of some baseball staples that you maybe haven’t munched on yourself. Selfishly, I hope to hear the books, movies, shows, documentaries, etc. that you recommend in the comments.
Ten Baseball Movies/Shows/Documentaries I Want to Watch this Offseason
Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns (I’ve only watched Part 1)
The Natural (I’ve seen it, but I don’t remember much)
Major League I & II (must rewatch)
Eight Men Out
Bad News Bears (1976)
Bang the Drum Slowly
The Pride of the Yankees
A League of Their Own
Ten Baseball Books I Want to Read and/or Attempt
Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Game of Shadows by Mark Fainranu-Wada and Lance Williams
The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri
The Book by Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman, Andrew Dolphin, and Pete Palmer
The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It
Juiced by Jose Canseco
Watching Baseball Smarter by Zack Hample
Drinking with Boileryard Clarke by Dayn Perry (duh)
The Art of Pitching by Tom Seaver
Any other compelling baseball biographies or autobiographies
Yes, I am horribly behind. And there are billions more! Of course there are. It is now your job to tell me what they are in the comments.
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