100 books like The Bad Guys Won

By Jeff Pearlman,

Here are 100 books that The Bad Guys Won fans have personally recommended if you like The Bad Guys Won. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Dan Largent Author Of Before We Ever Spoke

From my list on baseball is part of the theme.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Dan's book list on baseball is part of the theme

Dan Largent Why did Dan 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

Dan Largent Author Of Before We Ever Spoke

From my list on baseball is part of the theme.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Dan's book list on baseball is part of the theme

Dan Largent Why did Dan 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…


Book cover of Painting the Black

Dan Largent Author Of Before We Ever Spoke

From my list on baseball is part of the theme.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Dan's book list on baseball is part of the theme

Dan Largent Why did Dan 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. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

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

Dan Largent Author Of Before We Ever Spoke

From my list on baseball is part of the theme.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Dan's book list on baseball is part of the theme

Dan Largent Why did Dan 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…


Book cover of Mexican WhiteBoy

Kelly Parra Author Of Graffiti Girl

From my list on realistic, edgy, multicultural young adult fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a multicultural published author from California. I attended different schools growing up, reading classic literature that I couldn't relate to, resulting in becoming a reluctant reader. I didn't live in historical time periods. My skin was a lighter shade of brown. In my world, I met kids from diverse backgrounds, who spoke slang and had personal hardships. Where were the books like that? That's why I wrote Graffiti Girl. To share a realistic, multicultural approach so the reluctant reader could have characters they could see themselves in. That's why I chose these books, in no specific order, that share contemporary, urban stories involving people of different cultures, who face unique hardships.

Kelly's book list on realistic, edgy, multicultural young adult fiction

Kelly Parra Why did Kelly love this book?

Half Mexican baseball athlete, Danny is trying to find his place between cultural identities. The writing is straight forward and the relationships and slang are real. This book deals with friendships, family, cultural identity, and dreams. An identifiable story for readers trying to find their place in a diverse world. I loved it!

By Matt de la Peña,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mexican WhiteBoy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Newbery Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Matt de la Peña's Mexican WhiteBoy is a story of friendship, acceptance, and the struggle to find your identity in a world of definitions.

Danny is tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound, he loses it.

But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him.…


Book cover of Summer of '49

John Rosengren Author Of The Greatest Summer in Baseball History: How the '73 Season Changed Us Forever

From my list on stories about a single baseball season.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father used to take me to watch the Twins play at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, a twenty-minute drive from our house in suburban Minneapolis. As soon as the Twins announced their schedule each year, he would buy tickets for the doubleheaders. Our favorites were the twilight doubleheaders, when we watched one game by daylight, and the other under the night sky. Baseball was pure to me then: played outdoors on real grass. Seated beside my dad during those twin bills, I felt his love for the game seep into me and take root. All these years later, almost two decades after his death, that love remains strong.

John's book list on stories about a single baseball season

John Rosengren Why did John love this book?

I liked this slice of history and the sense of importance David Halberstam imparted to it. He cared about the story, and so I did, too.

I love the All-Star castCasey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, et al.that animates the action. I’m there on the field with these guys, sweating out the action Halberstam so passionately describes, and feeling their emotions.

By David Halberstam,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Summer of '49 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This #1 bestselling baseball classic of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is “dazzling . . . heart-stopping . . . A celebration of a vanished heroic age” (The New York Times Book Review).
The summer of 1949: It was baseball’s Golden Age and the year Joe DiMaggio’s New York Yankees were locked in a soon-to-be classic battle with Ted Williams’s Boston Red Sox for the American League pennant. As postwar America looked for a unifying moment, the greatest players in baseball history brought their rivalry to the field, captivating the American public through the heart-pounding final moments of the season. This…


Book cover of Bucky F*cking Dent

Daniel Paisner Author Of A Single Happened Thing

From my list on baseball novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer and a lifelong baseball fan with a weakness for baseball-ish fiction. For a lot of folks, this means reading the usual suspects: Kinsella, Malamud, Coover, Roth, DeLillo... But I especially enjoy stumbling across under-the-radar novels that can’t help but surprise in their own ways. I enjoy this so much, in fact, I went out and wrote one of my own – inspired by the life and career of an all-but-forgotten ballplayer from the 1880s named Fred “Sure Shot” Dunlap, one of the greats of the game in his time. In the stuff of his life there was the stuff of meaning and moment… of the sort you’ll find in the books I’m recommending here.

Daniel's book list on baseball novels

Daniel Paisner Why did Daniel love this book?

I loved this book the moment I saw the title. And the cover! I loved it even more when I noticed it shared a publication date with my own baseball novel back in 2016, so it feels to me like we’re related. The title and cover alone should earn this one a spot on your shelf, but there’s tasty goodness inside. Duchovny’s love of the game is apparent – but so too is his Ivy League education. He writes like a lifelong reader, with a keen eye for baseball and its denizens and an ear for poetry. He’s funny af, too.   

By David Duchovny,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bucky F*cking Dent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ted Fullilove, aka Mr. Peanut, is not like other Ivy League grads. He shares an apartment with Goldberg, his beloved battery operated fish, sleeps on a bed littered with yellow legal pads penned with what he hopes will be the next great American novel, and spends the waning malaise filled days of the Carter administration at Yankee Stadium, waxing poetic while slinging peanuts to pay the rent. When Ted hears the news that his estranged father, Marty, is dying of lung cancer, he immediately moves back into his childhood home, where a whirlwind of revelations ensues. The browbeating absentee father…


Book cover of Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life In and Out of Major-league Baseball

Dale Scott Author Of The Umpire Is Out: Calling the Game and Living My True Self

From my list on inspirational stories from Major League Baseball.

Why am I passionate about this?

With 37 years as a professional umpire, the last 32 with MLB, you can’t help but have a ton of stories. The umpire books I recommend have those and more. Funny, entertaining, revealing, and educational, hearing what happened from the person it was happening to give a unique look to America’s pastime. Being the first active male big 5 sports official (Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey, Soccer) to come out as gay in 2014, I also understand the added stress that brings and the courage it takes to live your true self on such a big stage.

Dale's book list on inspirational stories from Major League Baseball

Dale Scott Why did Dale love this book?

The day-to-day pressures as an MLB player are enormous. On the field, off the field, in the clubhouse, it’s nonstop.

Doing all of that while hiding who you are as a gay man, compounds everything. Billy Bean takes you with him, from the best player in little league to making it on a major league roster, all while hiding his true self.

Leaving baseball at his prime after the death of his partner, something he couldn’t tell a soul about, Billy’s story is heartbreaking yet triumphant and helped me when I publicly came out as an active MLB umpire.

By Billy Bean, Chris Bull,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Billy Bean is the first major league baseball player to publicly discuss his homosexuality and the first athlete in a professional American team sport to do so since all-pro football player Dave Kopay came out in 1975. By 1996, when Bean retired at age thirty-two from the game he loved after ten years as a pro ballplayer for the Tigers, Dodgers, and Padres, he had become disillusioned by the sport that had defined his life. Bean found himself forced to choose between his love of baseball and the man he loved. It was an agonizing end to a career in…


Book cover of Baseball: The Golden Age

Scott H. Longert Author Of Bad Boys, Bad Times: The Cleveland Indians and Baseball in the Prewar Years, 1937-1941

From my list on baseball history books.

Why am I passionate about this?

Scott Longert has his M.A. in American History from Cleveland State University. He has written five books on baseball history with a sixth on the way. His most recent work was Cy Young: An American Baseball Hero designed specifically for children. The book was a selection of the Junior Library Guild. Scott has made numerous appearances on radio and television along with being interviewed for several baseball documentaries. Scott served nine years as a Park Ranger for the National Park Service, stationed at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site. Currently, he faithfully attends baseball games in Cleveland, waiting for the home team to capture their first World Series win since 1948.

Scott's book list on baseball history books

Scott H. Longert Why did Scott love this book?

The book is a scholarly interpretation of Major League Baseball from 1903-1930. Harold Seymour was regarded as one of the premier baseball scholars in America, concentrating on the business and social aspects of the game. His work is a tremendous source for aspiring writers and those interested in the fine points of baseball rather than an accumulation of box scores. Seymour devotes time to the 1919 World Series fix and how much gambling was a part of the game. The rise to power of Commissioner Landis and his quest to purify baseball is a compelling part of the narrative.

By Dorothy Seymour Mills, Harold Seymour,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Following the story begun in Baseball: The Early Years, Harold Seymour explores the glorious and grevious era when the game truly captured the American imagination with legendary figures like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, but also appalled fans with startling scandals. The Golden Age begins with the formation of the two major leagues in 1903, and describes how the organization of the professional game improved from an unwieldy three-man commission to the
strong rule of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Seymour depicts the ways in which play on the field developed from the low-scoring, pitcher-dominated game of the `dead ball' era…


Book cover of The Pitch That Killed: The Story of Carl Mays, Ray Chapman, and the Pennant Race of 1920

Scott H. Longert Author Of Bad Boys, Bad Times: The Cleveland Indians and Baseball in the Prewar Years, 1937-1941

From my list on baseball history books.

Why am I passionate about this?

Scott Longert has his M.A. in American History from Cleveland State University. He has written five books on baseball history with a sixth on the way. His most recent work was Cy Young: An American Baseball Hero designed specifically for children. The book was a selection of the Junior Library Guild. Scott has made numerous appearances on radio and television along with being interviewed for several baseball documentaries. Scott served nine years as a Park Ranger for the National Park Service, stationed at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site. Currently, he faithfully attends baseball games in Cleveland, waiting for the home team to capture their first World Series win since 1948.

Scott's book list on baseball history books

Scott H. Longert Why did Scott love this book?

The year 1920 marked the first pennant ever won by the Cleveland Indians. Author Mike Sowell recalls that time with his outstanding work, The Pitch That Killed. Sowell describes in great detail the tragic story of Ray Chapman and Carl Mays, the two participants in one of the most heartbreaking stories in baseball history. Sowell recounts in vivid detail an overcast day in New York when Mays threw an inside fastball that struck Chapman on the left temple. The Cleveland shortstop would pass away the next morning, leading to an unprecedented display of grief throughout the country. This book is a most compelling read.

By Mike Sowell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since major league baseball began in 1871, there have been roughly thirty million pitches thrown to batters. Only one of them killed a man. This is the story of Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians, a popular player struck in the head and killed in August 1920 by a pitch thrown by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees. Was it, as most baseball observers thought at the time, a tragic but unavoidable accident? Mike Sowell's brilliant book investigates the incident and probes deep into the backgrounds of the players involved and the events that led to one of baseball's…


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