The best books where baseball is part of the theme

Who am I?

Before he became a bestselling author with his debut novel, Before We Ever Spoke, Dan Largent spent the better part of two decades as a high school baseball coach. In 2010, he guided Olmsted Falls High School to its first-ever State Final Four and was subsequently named Greater Cleveland Division I Coach of the Year. Dan stepped away from his duties as a baseball coach in 2017 to spend more time with his wife, April, and their three children Brooke, Grace, and Luke. He has, however, remained close to the game he loves by turning doubles into singles as a member of Cleveland’s finest 35 and over baseball league.

I wrote...

Before We Ever Spoke

By Dan Largent,

Book cover of Before We Ever Spoke

What is my book about?

Cleveland, Ohio. 2006. After a chance encounter, three people soon find out that life can sometimes thrust us into the public eye - even when taking great measures to avoid it. Cooper Madison was the best pitcher in baseball after being drafted number one overall in 1996 from the small Gulf Coast town of Pass Christian, Mississippi. One year after announcing his sudden and shocking retirement, he finds himself seeking anonymity in Cleveland, Ohio. Cara Knox is the youngest sibling to three older brothers. After a tragic work accident to her closest relative, she has built up a tough exterior as she begins her final year of college at Cleveland State University. Jason Knox, Cara's oldest brother, is the lead detective on Cleveland's Edgewater Park Killer case. After months without a suspect, he is feeling the heat from his media-hungry chief. Serendipity intervenes, and all three learn that perception and reality are paths that rarely ever intersect.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran

Why did I love this book?

Keith Olberman said that The Bullpen Gospels, "Might be one of the best baseball books written in forty years." 

I would like to go a step further and say that it is THE best baseball book that has been written. Ever. Even better than Ball Four, to me, because it takes place during the modern era of baseball and was written by Hayhurst as he played professionally. 

Hayhurst gives readers a realistic view into what it is really like to be like the majority of minor league players, “Bonus Babies” aside, as he pulls the veil back on professional baseball. 

By Dirk Hayhurst,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bullpen Gospels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Upon its release, The Bullpen Gospels was a direct hit to the New York Times bestseller list. With comparisons to Jim Boutons's Ball Four, The Bullpen Gospels is slated to be a classic of the genre.

From the humble heights of a Class-A pitcher's mound to the deflating lows of sleeping on his gun-toting grandmother's air mattress, veteran reliever Dirk Hayhurst steps out of the bullpen to deliver the best pitch of his career--a raw and unflinching account of his life in the minors.

Whether training tarantulas to protect his room from thieving employees in a backwater hotel or absorbing…

Book cover of The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship

Why did I love this book?

Ted Williams is my favorite baseball player of all time, so naturally, I have read almost every book ever written about him. This book, however, isn’t just about the “Splendid Splinter”. 

The Teammates takes place in the fall of 2001, as Ted Williams is dying and right around one of the most challenging times our country has endured. It revolves around the life-long friendship of 4 aging Red Sox teammates: Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr.

This is a book about four friends and teammates at the end of their time on this planet, and well-aware of that fact, who demonstrate that they will be there for each other all the way to the end. This is a short book and a fast read at only 218 pages (with pictures), but it is impactful far beyond its word count.

By David Halberstam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Teammates as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

More than 6 years after his death David Halberstam remains one of this country's most respected journalists and revered authorities on American life and history in the years since WWII. A Pulitzer Prize-winner for his ground-breaking reporting on the Vietnam War, Halberstam wrote more than 20 books, almost all of them bestsellers. His work has stood the test of time and has become the standard by which all journalists measure themselves.

The Teammates is the profoundly moving story of four great baseball players who have made the passage from sports icons--when they were young and seemingly indestructible--to men dealing with…

The Bad Guys Won

By Jeff Pearlman,

Book cover of The Bad Guys Won

Why did I love this book?

While I am a Cleveland Indians fan, my favorite national league team to root for as a child was the New York Mets - especially the flamboyant and talented 1986 team that partied their way to a World Series trophy. 

In The Bad Guys Won, famed columnist and bestselling author Jeff Pearlman manages to weave all of the craziness of that ‘86 team into a wonderful memoir of a team that had the talent to have been a dynasty in Major League Baseball for years to come. Unfortunately for the Mets, and due to many of the behaviors of the colorful characters chronicled in the book, that dynasty never came to fruition.

By Jeff Pearlman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bad Guys Won as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Jeff Pearlman has captured the swagger of the '86 Mets. You don't have to be a Mets fan to enjoy this book—it's a great read for all baseball enthusiasts." —Philadelphia Daily News

Award-winning Sports Illustrated baseball writer Jeff Pearlman returns to an innocent time when a city worshipped a man named Mookie and the Yankees were the second-best team in New York.

It was 1986, and the New York Mets won 108 regular-season games and the World Series, capturing the hearts (and other assorted body parts) of fans everywhere. But their greatness on the field was nearly eclipsed by how…

Painting the Black

By Carl Deuker,

Book cover of Painting the Black

Why did I love this book?

There was no way that I could ever put a book list together and NOT recommend one of Carl Deuker’s books. This book is aimed at the Young Adult crowd, but I first read it as an adult because Carl was my favorite author as a kid and I also happen to teach students in the YA crowd. 

Carl is the master of weaving complex societal issues and internal conflicts into plots that revolve around athletics. In Painting the Black he does just that as the main character, Ryan Ward, is faced with a choice that I am sure many readers can relate to.

Whether you are looking for a quick and poignant read, or you have a YA student at home who loves sports, Painting the Black is a must-read. 

By Carl Deuker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Painting the Black as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his senior year of high school, late bloomer Ryan Ward has just begun to feel the magic of baseball—the thrill of catching a wicked slider, of throwing a runner out, of training hard and playing hard. His friend Josh, the star of the team, has helped Ryan push his limits. But when Josh clearly pushes the limits too far, Ryan is faced with a heartbreaking dilemma: he must choose between his love for the game and his sense of integrity.

Book cover of Glory Days in Tribe Town: The Cleveland Indians and Jacobs Field 1994-1997

Why did I love this book?

My list could not be complete without a book about my beloved Tribe, and like most Clevelanders, watching the Indians of the mid-90’s was as good as it gets. Whether you are a Cleveland fan, or not, Glory Days in Tribe Town is a phenomenal book that chronicles one of the most intriguing Major League Baseball teams of the past 30 years. 

The Indians had 455 consecutive sold-out crowds home, many of whom stayed until the final out regardless of the score because they knew that the Tribe’s potent offensive could always overcome a deficit in the bottom of the 9th.  

The combination of two of Cleveland’s most iconic voices in Terry Pluto and Tom Hamilton makes this a must-read for any baseball fan.

By Terry Pluto, Tom Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Glory Days in Tribe Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Relive the most thrilling seasons of Cleveland Indians baseball in recent memory! Remember the excitement of those first years at Jacobs Field? When it seemed the Indians could find a way to win almost any game? When screaming fans rocked the jam-packed stands every night? When a brash young team snapped a forty-year slump and electrified the city? Those weren’t baseball seasons, they were year-long celebrations. Step back into the glory days with sportswriter Terry Pluto and broadcaster Tom Hamilton as they share behind-the-scenes stories about a team with all-stars at nearly every position . . . a sparkling new…

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