100 books like Willie's Time

By Charles Einstein,

Here are 100 books that Willie's Time fans have personally recommended if you like Willie's Time. 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 If You Were Only White: The Life of Leroy Satchel Paige

David Vaught Author Of Spitter: Baseball's Notorious Gaylord Perry

From my list on deep-dive baseball biographies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing this book brought back memories from my childhood—of watching Perry pitch in the late 1960s and, more deeply, of relations with my parents. My father (a math prof at UC Berkeley) and mother cared little for sports, but by the time I turned seven, an identity uniquely my own emerged from my infatuation with the San Francisco Giants. By age ten, I regularly sneaked off to Candlestick Park, which required two long bus rides and a hike through one of the city’s worst neighborhoods. I knew exactly when I had to leave to retrace my journey to get home in time for dinner. Baseball was, and remains, in my blood.

David's book list on deep-dive baseball biographies

David Vaught Why did David love this book?

Spivey and I share the same goal—to reach a broad audience, both scholarly and general. His book is for readers who love baseball and love history—those with a passion for the game who are not scared off by complex arguments or endnotes. Baseball intellectuals—the huge group of readers embodied by George Will, Ken Burns, and Doris Kearns Goodwin—constitute the central audience. But baseball buffs also care about the history of the game and will want to read this book. Spivey, a history professor, writes accessibly and avoids “insider history”—even in the sections and chapters focused primarily on the sordid past of American race relations. It is a deftly-executed, balanced treatment of Paige and one of the most meticulously researched biographies ever written about an athlete.

By Donald Spivey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked If You Were Only White as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"If You Were Only White" explores the legacy of one of the most exceptional athletes ever-an entertainer extraordinaire, a daring showman and crowd-pleaser, a wizard with a baseball whose artistry and antics on the mound brought fans out in the thousands to ballparks across the country. Leroy "Satchel" Paige was arguably one of the world's greatest pitchers and a premier star of Negro Leagues Baseball. But in this biography Donald Spivey reveals Paige to have been much more than just a blazing fastball pitcher.

Spivey follows Paige from his birth in Alabama in 1906 to his death in Kansas City…


Book cover of Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy

Robert Elias Author Of Major League Rebels: Baseball Battles over Workers' Rights and American Empire

From my list on baseball’s historic influence on America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Typically, we follow sports only on the playing field. I share that interest but I’ve become fascinated by sports off the field, and how they influence and reflect American society. After my fanatical baseball-playing childhood, I pursued an academic career, teaching and writing books and essays on politics and history, and wondering why it wasn’t more rewarding. Then I rediscovered sports, and returned again to my childhood passion of baseball. I began teaching a popular baseball course as a mirror on American culture. And I began writing about baseball and society, recently completing my sixth baseball book. The books recommended here will help readers to see baseball with new eyes. 

Robert's book list on baseball’s historic influence on America

Robert Elias Why did Robert love this book?

Martin Luther King, Jr. once observed that without the breaking of the color line in baseball in the late 1940s, his work for civil rights in the 1960s would have been infinitely more difficult.

This book tells the story not only of Jackie Robinson breaking that barrier to integrate baseball in 1947, but its profound consequences for both white and black baseball and for the Negro Leagues and the black community.

This breakthrough, seven years before the Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision, emerged not merely from Robinson and his sponsor, Branch Rickey, but from a several-decades long social movement for baseball integration, and it began the process of breaking down racist barriers in U.S. society—a notable example of how sports can promote social progress.

By Jules Tygiel,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Baseball's Great Experiment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this gripping account of one of the most important steps in the history of American desegregation, Jules Tygiel tells the story of Jackie Robinson's crossing of baseball's color line. Examining the social and historical context of Robinson's introduction into white organized baseball, both on and off the field, Tygiel also tells the often neglected stories of other African-American players-such as Satchel Paige, Roy Campanella, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron-who
helped transform our national pastime into an integrated game. Drawing on dozens of interviews with players and front office executives, contemporary newspaper accounts, and personal papers, Tygiel provides the most…


Book cover of Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life

David Vaught Author Of Spitter: Baseball's Notorious Gaylord Perry

From my list on deep-dive baseball biographies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing this book brought back memories from my childhood—of watching Perry pitch in the late 1960s and, more deeply, of relations with my parents. My father (a math prof at UC Berkeley) and mother cared little for sports, but by the time I turned seven, an identity uniquely my own emerged from my infatuation with the San Francisco Giants. By age ten, I regularly sneaked off to Candlestick Park, which required two long bus rides and a hike through one of the city’s worst neighborhoods. I knew exactly when I had to leave to retrace my journey to get home in time for dinner. Baseball was, and remains, in my blood.

David's book list on deep-dive baseball biographies

David Vaught Why did David love this book?

Both for sheer inspiration and for studying the craft of biography, I read this book at least five times while researching and writing Spitter. Absorbing, controversial, and courageous, this book offers a deeply disturbing look into the rise and fall of the most famous baseball icon of the twentieth century—and ‘the loneliest hero we ever had.” DiMaggio is rendered so vividly you almost want to look away. The book taught me the supreme importance of building the character, starting on page one, and of sustaining and expanding central and supplementary themes, chapter by chapter. It is also, simply put, a romping good read. If Spitter lives up to even one-tenth of this book’s brilliance, I would die a happy biographer.

By Richard Ben Cramer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking, breathtaking biography of one of the Century's great icons, the late Joe Dimaggio, from the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning author of the bestseller WHAT IT TAKES. Few celebrities have captivated the sport's world for as long, or with such depth, as Joe DiMaggio. Here, for the first time, is the definitive story of his life, as told by the award-winning journalist Richard Ben Cramer. In Cramer's hands, DiMaggio's complicated life, from the first game with the Yankees in the 1930's, his marriage to Marilyn Monroe and his rise to hero status, becomes a story of the media, the…


Book cover of God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen

David Vaught Author Of Spitter: Baseball's Notorious Gaylord Perry

From my list on deep-dive baseball biographies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing this book brought back memories from my childhood—of watching Perry pitch in the late 1960s and, more deeply, of relations with my parents. My father (a math prof at UC Berkeley) and mother cared little for sports, but by the time I turned seven, an identity uniquely my own emerged from my infatuation with the San Francisco Giants. By age ten, I regularly sneaked off to Candlestick Park, which required two long bus rides and a hike through one of the city’s worst neighborhoods. I knew exactly when I had to leave to retrace my journey to get home in time for dinner. Baseball was, and remains, in my blood.

David's book list on deep-dive baseball biographies

David Vaught Why did David love this book?

Nathanson (like me) faced the dilemma of writing biography when the subject declines to be interviewed. His approach showed me the way. The availability of digital newspaper databases has opened up enormous possibilities for research, and Nathanson took advantage of them to provide color, detail, and analysis on a grand scale. The many dozens of reporters and newspaper writers who covered Dick Allen wrote game accounts, opinion columns, and feature stories that informed, inspired, and entertained contemporary readers. They watched the games from the vantage point of the press box, peppered the players and managers with questions in the clubhouse afterward, and often rode the buses and planes with the teams. They had a level of access that is the envy of historians, and Nathanson greatly profited from their work.

By Mitchell Nathanson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When the Philadelphia Phillies signed Dick Allen in 1960, fans of the franchise envisioned bearing witness to feats never before accomplished by a Phillies player. A half-century later, they're still trying to make sense of what they saw.
Carrying to the plate baseball's heaviest and loudest bat as well as the burden of being the club's first African American superstar, Allen found both hits and controversy with ease and regularity as he established himself as the premier individualist in a game that prided itself on conformity. As one of his managers observed, "I believe God Almighty hisself would have trouble…


Book cover of 24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid

Carl Deuker Author Of Golden Arm

From my list on sports books about more than sports.

Why am I passionate about this?

For 20 years, I tried to write politically relevant, “important” novels. I teach. One day I told my students that to succeed as a writer, they needed to write about things they knew and loved. Honesty was the key. That night, I resumed work on a novel set in Prague involving Cold War intrigue, capitalism, communism, and some other "isms" I’ve forgotten. I wrote a paragraph and then stopped. My advice was good. Write about things you know and love. So why not follow it myself? What section of the newspaper did I read first? The sports page. Did I live and die with my favorite sports teams? Yes. I put my hopeless Prague novel aside and started On the Devil’s Court. For better or worse, a sportswriter is who I am.

Carl's book list on sports books about more than sports

Carl Deuker Why did Carl love this book?

When I was a boy, I’d get up early, go outside to retrieve the SF Chronicle, and look at the headline of the sports page. If the Giants had lost, I’d put the rubber band back around the newspaper and leave it on the lawn to rot. If they’d won, I’d bring it in and devour the recap and the box score.

This old-fashioned, hero-worship book works because Willie Mays is an old-fashioned hero. Great baseball player, great teammate, great showman, fascinating life. Birmingham to New York to San Francisco. Joy in playing the game at every stop. A wonderful pick-me-up of a book with great photos, great stories, and the greatest player of all time smack dab in the middle of it all. Say Hey!

By Willie Mays, John Shea,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 24 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE BESTSELLER

The legendary Willie Mays shares the inspirations and influences responsible for guiding him on and off the field in this reflective and inspirational memoir.

"Even if, like me, you thought you had pretty much read and heard all there was to read and hear about Willie Mays, this warmhearted book will inform and reward you. And besides, what true baseball fan can ever get enough of Willie Mays? Say Hey! Read on and enjoy." -From the Foreword by Bob Costas

"It's because of giants like Willie that someone like…


Book cover of The Horse that Played the Outfield

Artie Bennett Author Of The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn't

From my list on horse-themed children’s books—and that ain’t hay.

Why am I passionate about this?

I stumbled upon an article about Zippy Chippy and knew, right out of the starting gate, that I needed to share his fascinating tale with young readers. I’m the author of a quintet of hilarious rhyming picture books, including the classic The Butt Book and my “number two” picture book, Poopendous! But this was a horse of a different color for me. It’s my first picture-book biography in prose. When I was a lad, my father would take me, on occasion, to Aqueduct Racetrack. I watched in awe as the horses would thunder by. These boyhood experiences surely planted the seeds. I fell in love with Zippy Chippy, and I know you will, too. 

Artie's book list on horse-themed children’s books—and that ain’t hay

Artie Bennett Why did Artie love this book?

This sweet, humorous tale from my childhood combined two of my favorite things—horses and baseball—making it the perfect mashup for me. The narrator, with tongue in cheek, recounts the story of two brothers in the boondocks who attempt to cobble together a baseball team to square off against rival towns. But because prospective ballplayers are few and far between, they enlist the services of Edgar, an all-white horse, to fill out their roster and play center field. Edgar can’t hit for beans, but he can chase down fly balls like Willie Mays, catching the ball between his teeth. Can an outfielder who nibbles on the grass between pitches succeed? Sadly, this fun book is no longer in print.

By William Heuman, William Moyers (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Horse that Played the Outfield as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Edgar, the horse, could not hit or run the bases, despite some rather wild assertions that he could, but he was an outfielder par excellence, a lot better, indeed, than Henri Dubonnier, the French-Canadian wood chopper who played next to him for that zany outfit, the Smoky Bellows Anvils.


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 The Boys of Summer

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?

This is one of those non-fiction books that reads like a novel. I wanted to keep turning the pages to follow the action and learn what it revealed about the characters. Technically the book covers more than a single season, but its nexus in the Brooklyn Dodgers’s 1955 season justified it as a selection for this category.

Roger Kahn gave us a classic that reads with the same urgency today as it did decades ago.

By Roger Kahn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Described by Richard William of The Guardian as 'the best sports book of 2013, and the best sports book of all time', The Boys of Summer is the story of the young men who learned to play baseball during the 1930s and 1940s, and went on to play for one of the most exciting major-league ball clubs ever fielded, the Brooklyn Dodgers team that broke the colour barrier with Jackie Robinson.

It is a book by and about a sportswriter who grew up near Ebbets Field, and who had the good fortune in the 1950s to cover the Dodgers for…


Book cover of Ball Four: The Final Pitch

Noah Gittell Author Of Baseball: The Movie

From my list on books that tell the true story of baseball.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved baseball since I was six years old when I watched that ground ball go through Bill Buckner’s legs and propel my New York Mets to their second World Series. I’ve loved film for almost as long. The best way to love something is to think critically about it–put it to the test. That’s why I wrote Baseball: The Movie. It was an effort to avoid unexamined nostalgia, to think hard about these things I love, and to make sure I love them honestly. I’ve spent 10 years as a freelance writer on baseball and movies, but not until I wrote this book did I feel like they had truly passed my test.

Noah's book list on books that tell the true story of baseball

Noah Gittell Why did Noah love this book?

In 1970, Jim Bouton blew the lid off baseball with this book.

A chronicling of one season of the author’s career in the major and minor leagues, the book told the truth about professional ballplayers: that they were not the heroes the newspapers made them out to be. On the contrary, they were just as greedy, selfish, and pervy as the rest of us.

At a time when America was going through a great disillusionment, Bouton did the same for America’s game. Years later, it still holds that power. I savored every word of it, experiencing the ups and downs of a season while gaining an insider’s view of the sport I fell in love with as a child.

By Jim Bouton,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Ball Four as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
New York Public Library Book of the Century Selection
Time Magazine “100 Greatest Non-Fiction Books” Selection
New Foreword from Jim Bouton’s Wife, Paula Bouton
When Ball Four was first published in 1970, it hit the sports world like a lightning bolt. Commissioners, executives, and players were shocked. Sportswriters called author Jim Bouton a traitor and "social leper." Commissioner Bowie Kuhn tried to force him to declare the book untrue. Fans, however, loved the book. And serious critics called it an important social document. Following his death, Bouton’s landmark book has remained popular, and his legacy lives on…


Book cover of The Bird and the Bees

Carolyn Astfalk Author Of All in Good Time

From my list on modern-day romantic escapes for frazzled Catholic moms.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a mom of four busy kids in grade school, middle school, high school, and college, reading a novel is my reward at the end of a hectic day. I’ve read hundreds of novels, many of them Christian romances, while sitting at my children’s bedsides. They have to be well-written, no smut, and if the characters are Catholic Christians like me, all the better.

Carolyn's book list on modern-day romantic escapes for frazzled Catholic moms

Carolyn Astfalk Why did Carolyn love this book?

I love baseball romances. Pair one with a solid Theology of the Body romance (something I’ve done myself), and I’m there for it!

This debut novel is part women’s fiction, part romance, part mystery, and like any great love story, is anchored by God. I’m partial to the Presque Isle setting on the shores of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania, and I quickly became partial to easygoing, steady minor leaguer Ketch Devine.

By Neena Gaynor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Previously published as The Bird and the Bees by Mantle Rock Publishing.

When Larkin Maybie buries her mother in the foothills of Appalachia, she is left all alone. Her only inheritance? A crazy aunt, a mountain of debt, and a run-down, secluded cabin left by a mysterious benefactor. While Larkin thinks an escape to a cabin miles from anything familiar might be exactly what she needs, the quick answer to her problems only leaves her with more questions … Questions concerning her true identity.

As Larkin searches for her link to the Lewandowski Estate, she begins to accept the kindness…


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