There are so many books about baseball on Amazon, can you recommend a few?
[Mike, Palo Alto, CA.]
Here are a few that come to mind immediately:
- NINE INNINGS by David Okrent
Okrent describes everything that is going on in a single game, as well as all around the game.
You will learn about the managers’ moves, the players’ thoughts, the guys selling popcorn in the stands, the General Manager’s job, scouting, Baseball history and more.
Although it dissects a single baseball game played in June 1982 — inning by inning, play by play, it is an example that could represent any single game.
Amazon says: Daniel Okrent, a seasoned writer and lifelong fan, chose as his subject a Milwaukee Brewers/Baltimore Orioles matchup, though it could have been any game, because, as Okrent reveals, the essence of baseball, no matter where or when it’s played, has been and will always be the same. In this particular moment of baseball history you will discover myriad aspects of the sport that are crucial to its nature but so often invisible to the fans — the hidden language of catchers’ signals, the physiology of pitching, the balance sheet of a club owner, the gait of a player stepping up to the plate. With the purity of heart and unwavering attention to detail that characterize our national pastime; Okrent goes straight to the core of the world’s greatest game. You’ll never watch baseball the same way again.
These two look like the best deal:
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- PAST TIME by the late  Jules Tygiel is a well-researched, yet very entertaining work that serves as an elegant summary of baseball history.
Jules was a fellow faculty member at San Francisco State University and we were “baseball pals,” who had random run-ins on campus that turned into two-man seminars on baseball. One of the best days of my life was one that I spent with Jules attending a Giants’ game; he was a master of the game and its history and he had a quick wit and playful manner.
I cannot be objective about this wonderful book, so here is what Amazon says:
Few writers know more about baseball’s role in American life than Jules Tygiel. In Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy, Tygiel penned a classic work, a landmark book that towers above most writing about the sport. Now he ranges across the last century and a half in an intriguing look at baseball as history, and history as reflected in baseball.
In Past Time, Tygiel gives us a seat behind home plate, where we catch the ongoing interplay of baseball and American society. We begin in New York in the 1850s, where pre-Civil War nationalism shaped the emergence of a “national pastime.” We witness the true birth of modern baseball with the development of its elaborate statistics–the brainchild of English-born reformer, Henry Chadwick. Chadwick, Tygiel writes, created the sport’s “historical essence” and even imparted a moral dimension to the game with his concepts of “errors” and “unearned” runs. Tygiel offers equally insightful looks at the role of rags-to-riches player-owners in the formation of the upstart American League and he describes the complex struggle to establish African-American baseball in a segregated world. He also examines baseball during the Great Depression (when Branch Rickey and Larry MacPhail saved the game by perfecting the farm system, night baseball, and radio broadcasts), the ironies of Bobby Thomson’s immortal “shot heard ’round the world,” the rapid relocation of franchises in the 1950s and 1960s, and the emergence of rotisserie leagues and fantasy camps in the 1980s.
In Past Time, Jules Tygiel provides baseball history with a difference. Instead of a pitch-by-pitch account of great games, in this groundbreaking book, the field is American history and baseball itself is the star.
- Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy by Jules Tygiel
If you read one book about Jackie Robinson, read this one.
Jules Tygiel penned a classic work, a landmark book that towers above most writing about the sport. Now he ranges across the last century and a half in an intriguing look at baseball as history, and history as reflected in baseball.
- EXTRA INNINGS by Bruce Spitzer [Baseball Fiction/Futuristic]
What if they thawed out the frozen head of Ted Williams and attached it to a young athlete’s body?
“He was the greatest hitter of all time. Cryonics brought him back to life in 2092. Would he use this second chance to win his first World Series or to become a better man? “
“In the year 2092, Ted Williams, the greatest baseball hitter of all time, is brought back to life through the science of cryonics. Once again playing for the Red Sox, Williams finds himself trapped in a world he hardly recognizes: the corruption of the game he loves with über-juiced batters and robot pitchers;”
I wrote a review of the book and it follows the list below…
- Feet, Six Inches: A Hall of Fame Pitcher & a Hall of Fame Hitter Talk About How the Game Is Played by Bob Gibson, Reggie Jackson and Lonnie Wheeler (Sep 22, 2009)
For the baseball fan who wants to get “inside the game,” these two HOF’s carry on a conversation about the game. I admire Bob Gibson and think Reggie is an arrogant jerk off the field, but a very talented baseball player. Although I know the game, these two offered some new insights.
“…all-star pitcher Gibson, 73, talks mechanics, psychology and culture with 63-year-old Reggie Jackson, one of the game’s greatest hitters. Although they never faced each other on the field, they square off on everything from pitch counts and swing styles to catchers, managers and umpires, to clubhouse environments and media distractions. In lengthy discussions steered by author Wheeler (Gibson’s autobiography collaborator), the two often turn conversational, sharing stories about Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols, among others, but the book reads best when the duo discusses controversies: spitballers, hit batters, steroids, free agency and racism. Their egos and memories remain remarkably vivid; Gibson, who spent 17 years on the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals, constantly cites his own stats, and Jackson, who won the World Series with both the A’s and the Yankees, takes credit for Derek Jeter’s success. Fans will come away from this discussion between greats with even greater understanding and appreciation for the game.”
Well, Mike, that’s a start and all of these books are worth the price of the hardbound editions.
[Just Ask Earl will appear here every TUESDAY on BSI. If you have a question, send it to Earl at [email protected]
5.0 out of 5 stars Author tosses two perfect games in one book, September 4, 2012
The average pitcher’s odds of pitching a no-hitter are .000645 percent, or, ballpark estimate, rounded off: one chance in a million. In the spring of 1938, Cincinnati Reds’ rookie pitcher Johnny Vander Meer pitched two no-hit games, back-to-back. The feat has never been duplicated.
But now comes a rookie author who has tossed two perfect games in the same outing; in Extra Innings Bruce E. Spitzer surpasses Vander Meer by creating an authentic baseball hero tale about a re-animated Ted Williams and a credible futuristic world in this entertaining “Second Chance/ What If?” novel.
Many baseball fans, especially citizens of Red Sox Nation, have speculated, endlessly, about this question: What if Ted Williams did not take time off from his baseball career to serve his country in WWII as a Marine fighter pilot?
And, writers from translator, Padma Sambhava [Tibetan Book of The Dead] to Dr. Raymond Moody [Life After Life] have provided insights into another existential mystery: What happens after we die?
Author Spitzer offers intriguing replies to these questions, as well as this one: What will our world be like in the year 2092? Ancient Red Sox “kranks,” current baseball fanatics and fans of the future will be impressed by how the author deep drills into vast research resources to provide a story that rings true on baseball, Boston, Ted Williams, existentialism, and the near future of our planet.
Speaking to the Boston Herald, Spitzer, 52, said: “In Ted Williams’ case, I loved the guy. He was obviously brilliant in so many ways, but he was flawed like the rest of us.” It begs the question: When Teddy Ballgame becomes the first Red Sox player to have his cryonically frozen head spliced onto the body of a recently-deceased young tennis star, does the Hall of Famer drag the dross of his flaws into his Man-given extra innings?
[FACTS: Although he had his father’s head frozen without Ted’s knowledge or permission, John Henry Williams tried to justify his decision, thusly: “He was very into science and believed in new technology and human advancement and was a pioneer. Even though things seemed impossible at times, he always knew there was always a chance to catch a fish — only if you had your fly in the water.”
Neuropreservation is cryopreservation of the human brain.
Was Sinatra right? Is life “lovelier the second time around”? Does a second bite at Life’s apple allow one to finally claim: “I did it my way”? Without requiring a “spoiler alert,” it is fair to say that, while it may be true that…
“After changes upon changes, we are more or less the same,”**
…during his fictional, mortal reprise, the Splendid Splinter discovers that you can teach an old brain some new tricks.
[**Paul Simon, "The Boxer."]
Spitzer adroitly avoids the temptation to go all melodrama maudlin in his rubric-requisite “love interest” sub-plot, which plays a minor part in the masculine-appeal saga about a baseball icon and Marine war hero; although, as pilot “Caveman” Williams learns, there may well be women today, as well as in 2092, who served in the armed forces and love baseball, who will enjoy this novel just as much as the men.
What is especially noteworthy about this rookie author’s novel is the meticulous, nearly obsessive, attention to authenticity, particularly the fine grain details in the life of Ted Williams, the game of baseball, and the training and combat experiences of Marine fighter pilots.
Thus, it was not surprising to learn that Mr. Spitzer said he did “a ton of research with biographers,” and that he wrote his book in his spare time, over a period of six years. The descriptions of Ted Williams, the near-perfect hitter–his life, his personality, his speech patterns, his values, his attitude, his style–are “pitch perfect.”
The thematic thread stitches back to the neck of Mary Shelley’s monster Frankenstein  and Robert A. Heinlein’s gender-spliced creature, Eunice, in I Will Fear No Evil .
In the context of historic literary structure, the author runs in the “neo-modern” base path blazed by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., who was among the first to publish a novel with brief chapters, mostly three to ten pages. [SEE: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, 1965.]
Although Vonnegut was castigated by the literary establishment for his bold new chapter construct, it has become clear that he anticipated how media (with TV commercial breaks every 7 minutes) would accelerate the speed of information transfer and create a planet-wide social network of hyper-active information addicts with nano-second attention spans.
Today, we no longer wait all day to watch the “Evening News” in its limited temporal slot; we assemble our individual news, experience events “live,” follow the tweets and re-tweets of social revolutions, copy and save the present, babble on blogs and educate ourselves by Googling–technology has allowed us the freedom to become unlocked from time.
Amidst our electric, current culture, that has far outpaced the now passé FUTURE SHOCK world envisioned by Alvin Toffler in 1984, Spitzer adroitly tosses a perfect game double-header; he pitches with a ball with 91 meticulously stitched chapters, encapsulating his meaning within a 395-page span of white space from cover to cowhide cover; the statistical result is a well-paced 4.30 PPC average. (Page Per Chapter.)
The only question that remains about Extra Innings is: Who will play Ted Williams in the movie?
Williams might have selected the widescreen Marine in “Flying Leathernecks” ; unfortunately, no one had the foresight to freeze John Wayne’s head back in 1979; just another example of the chilling reality: `Many are cold, but few are frozen.’
Extra Innings by Bruce E. Spitzer is published by Bear Hill Media, ISBN-13:
978-0-9849569-0-6; 412 pages; $16.95. It is available now on