Ten Essential Baseball Books:  The Sequel

Well, heck, if Studes is going to publish his … here’s what I sent to Alex:

1. Any of the Roger Angell anthologies. The Summer Game was the first, but not necessarily the best; among the many phenomenal aspects of Angell’s writing is how he’s managed to remain as fresh and enthusiastic and sharp and witty and insightful as ever, decade upon decade.

2. Something by Bill James. I suppose The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract from 2001 is the default choice, but in some ways the original BJHBA from 1986 was better. And his Book of Baseball Managers is just as terrific. And, of course, one could hardly go wrong just taking one of the annual Abstracts from the 1980s.

3. The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Baseball, by Leonard Koppett. If only most newspaper-beat sportswriters exhibited one-tenth of the intelligence and style of this tremendous thinker and writer.

4. A Day in the Bleachers, by Arnold Hano. Quite simply, the best ballgame-as-experienced-from-the-stands account ever written. Nothing else really comes close.

5. The Lords of Baseball, by John Helyar. The stunningly good history and examination of how MLB really operates.

6. Juicing the Game, by Howard Bryant. Picks up where Helyar left off, and presents the authoritative history of MLB in the modern era.

7. The Glory of their Times, edited by Lawrence Ritter. The first of the great oral histories, and in many ways still the best. Danny Peary’s We Played the Game is a close rival.

8. Ball Four, by Jim Bouton with Leonard Schecter. Yes, Jim Brosnan’s The Long Season was nearly as good, but not quite. Bouton’s is the best insider’s account yet presented.

9. Eight Men Out, by Eliot Asinof. Pick it up, and try to put it down. I dare ya.

10. The original MacMillan Baseball Encyclopedia, from 1969. Others have come along and overtaken it, and of course today one just turns to baseball-reference.com. But every statistical reference work since stands upon MacMillan’s robust and towering shoulders.

This leaves out a gazillion worthy contenders, of course. I’m sure as soon as I send this, I’m gonna slap my forehead and say, “D’oh! How could I have forgotten that one!” But every one of these ten is fundamental.

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