The best Babe Ruth books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about Babe Ruth and why they recommend each book.

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Babe

By Robert Creamer,

Book cover of Babe: The Legend Comes to Life

There have been numerous biographies written about Babe Ruth, but Robert Creamer’s stands out. With excellent research, Creamer gives the reader an intimate portrait of the game’s greatest slugger. From Ruth’s time at St. Mary’s school for boys to his death from cancer, the author reveals a vivid account of Babe’s life and times. There were many highlights in the Babe’s career and Creamer covers them well, including the home run in the 1932 World Series where Ruth may or may not have called his shot. Babe Ruth was always up to the task on and off the field; this book relates his exploits in a most captivating style.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Bad Boys, Bad Times: The Cleveland Indians and Baseball in the Prewar Years, 1937-1941

By Scott H. Longert,

Book cover of Bad Boys, Bad Times: The Cleveland Indians and Baseball in the Prewar Years, 1937-1941

What is my book about?

Bad Boys, Bad Times is a study of how the Cleveland Indians and Major League Baseball fared in the years leading up to the start of World War Two. The effects of the Great Depression were lessening, allowing people to restart their lives and fill baseball stadiums once again. Just as Americans were beginning to relax, the threat of another World War loomed ahead.

In that time, the Cleveland Indians struck gold when they signed seventeen-year-old pitcher Bob Feller, then nearly lost him by circumventing the rules regarding athletes still in high school. Feller would become one of the game’s greatest stars. In 1940 the Indians had a chance to win the American League pennant, but were stymied by a player revolt in which the team tried to get manager Oscar Vitt fired. The baseball writers found out about the attempted coup and ridiculed the Indians for the remainder of the season.

Season Ticket

By Roger Angell,

Book cover of Season Ticket: A Baseball Companion

Anything by Hall of Fame baseball scribe Roger Angell could be on this list. The author saw Babe Ruth play and was still writing about baseball after turning 100 years old. Feel free to skip ahead and read "Not So Boston,'' the tale of the Red Sox's hideous loss to the Mets in the 1986 World Series.


Who am I?

I have been privileged to cover sports for the Boston Globe for the last 40-plus years. It is the best place in the country to do what I do. New England has tradition, smart readers, historic teams, and a great deal of success, especially in this century. As an author of 14 books, it's nice to bring some sports to the conversation on this site.

I wrote...

Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics

By Dan Shaughnessy,

Book cover of Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics

What is my book about?

Today the NBA is a vast global franchise—a billion-dollar industry viewed by millions of fans in the United States and abroad. But it wasn’t always this successful. Before primetime ESPN coverage, lucrative branding deals like Air Jordans, and $40 million annual player salaries, there was the NBA of the 1970s and 1980s—when basketball was still an up-and-coming sport featuring old school beat reporters and players wore Converse All-Stars.

Shaughnessy takes us inside the legendary Larry Bird-led Celtics teams, capturing the camaraderie as they rose to dominate the NBA. Fans can witness the cockiness of Larry Bird; the ageless athleticism of Robert Parish; the shooting skills of Kevin McHale; the fierce, self-sacrificing play of Bill Walton; and the playful humor of players like Danny Ainge, Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell, and M.L. Carr.

The 1923 New York Yankees

By Ronald A. Mayer,

Book cover of The 1923 New York Yankees: A History of Their First World Championship Season

After the Yankees emerged from their dismal days as the Hilltop Highlanders, officially becoming the New York Yankees in 1913, ten years after coming to the Washington Heights area in upper Manhattan, they made a run for the American League pennant, and, as such, for major league baseball’s largest prize—World Series Champs. But they had a very steep hill to climb: they had to claw their way over their arch-rival, the National League’s New York Giants, who defeated the Yankees in post-season play in 1921 and 1922 to claim major league baseball’s ultimate prize. Mayer tells the story of the Yankees’ third try in 1923 when they finally overcame their nemesis to stand atop the baseball world.


Who am I?

I grew up a Yankee fan during the Mickey Mantle era, traveling to the Bronx in my uncle’s canary-yellow Chrysler Imperial. Those early experiences set me on a trajectory to want to play baseball every chance I got, starting with Little League and ending up on my high school’s varsity squad. Fortunately, my high school was in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where my family had moved in 1962, the same year that the Yankees began playing their pre-season games in the city, which meant when I wasn’t playing baseball at school, I was hanging around Ft. Lauderdale Stadium watching the Yankees. Yes, the Pinstripe Nation was in my blood. 


I wrote...

The Men Who Made the Yankees: The Odyssey of the World's Greatest Baseball Team from Baltimore to the Bronx

By W. Nikola-Lisa,

Book cover of The Men Who Made the Yankees: The Odyssey of the World's Greatest Baseball Team from Baltimore to the Bronx

What is my book about?

The Men Who Made the Yankees traces the rise of the New York Yankees from the origin of the American League to the Yankees’ first world championship title in 1923. The Men Who Made the Yankees focuses on a handful of club owners and the political and financial pressures that dramatically shaped the arrival of an American League franchise in New York City. 

A baseball enthusiast from a young age, Mr. Nikola-Lisa is also the author of Dear Frank: Babe Ruth, the Red Sox, and the Great War, a work of historical fiction set in Boston during the waning days of the first world war, and the forthcoming The Things He Could Have Been, or The Almost True Story of Babe Ruth.

The Glory of Their Times

By Lawrence S. Ritter,

Book cover of The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It

In the 1960s, Ritter interviewed a bunch of guys who played major league ball in the early days, from the 1890s through the 1930s (or so), with lots of stuff from the Deadball Era. The result is this marvelous book filled with priceless tales told by the men who knew, played with (and occasionally fought with) Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Nap Lajoie, and the immortals from that era. Anyone who wants to understand what baseball was like in 1903, or there-and-then-about, must read this book. Reading this book is like sitting on a porch in a rocking chair next to grandpa while he tells stories that you actually want to hear.


Who am I?

I’m a baseball history fanatic who writes on a wide range of topics for work and pleasure, which I’m glad to say often are the same thing. I’ve been a journalist for many years, even covered a few World Series, and I’ve written stories for books published by the Society for American Baseball Research. I’ve also written a lot about music, science, business, and politics, for newspapers and magazines. I’ve been a playwright, fortunate to have seen my work staged in different venues. And I also wrote a book called, The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton: A Basically True Biography, which I’m really excited to tell you about in the next section!


I wrote...

The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton: A Basically True Biography

By Jerry Grillo,

Book cover of The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton: A Basically True Biography

What is my book about?

This is the amazing story of Col. Bruce Hampton, the charismatic musician/bandleader whose long career ended when he collapsed and died on stage during the encore of his 70th birthday concert, surrounded by some of the world’s best musicians, including Grammy winners and a Cy Young Award winner. It’s a biography that reads like a novel. As Billy Bob Thornton, who directed Hampton in his Academy Award-winning film Sling Blade, said of the book, “You’ll disappear into Bruce’s world in this book, and you may not want to come out.”

With a foreword by Grammy-winner Chuck Leavell and cover designed by Flournoy Holmes (the artist who created the cover for the Allman Brothers’ iconic album, Eat a Peach, and many others).

The Pitch That Killed

By Mike Sowell,

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

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Bad Boys, Bad Times: The Cleveland Indians and Baseball in the Prewar Years, 1937-1941

By Scott H. Longert,

Book cover of Bad Boys, Bad Times: The Cleveland Indians and Baseball in the Prewar Years, 1937-1941

What is my book about?

Bad Boys, Bad Times is a study of how the Cleveland Indians and Major League Baseball fared in the years leading up to the start of World War Two. The effects of the Great Depression were lessening, allowing people to restart their lives and fill baseball stadiums once again. Just as Americans were beginning to relax, the threat of another World War loomed ahead.

In that time, the Cleveland Indians struck gold when they signed seventeen-year-old pitcher Bob Feller, then nearly lost him by circumventing the rules regarding athletes still in high school. Feller would become one of the game’s greatest stars. In 1940 the Indians had a chance to win the American League pennant, but were stymied by a player revolt in which the team tried to get manager Oscar Vitt fired. The baseball writers found out about the attempted coup and ridiculed the Indians for the remainder of the season.

I Was Right on Time

By Buck O'Neil, Steve Wulf, David Conrads

Book cover of I Was Right on Time

This book is wonderful. While it isn’t your typical self-improvement book, reading it made me want to be a better person. Buck O’Neil’s attitude is amazing despite all of the hardships he endured. He is an inspiration to everyone. No matter where we are or when we are born, we are all  "right on time,” and hopefully striving to serve a purpose for a greater good. A good attitude and lots of gratitude are so important for our self-awareness journey and Buck had it in truckloads. Please read this book. 


Who am I?

I have been motivated to be the best version of myself for as long as I can remember and that has included reading a ton of books, pushing my own limits on what I was capable of (Ironman triathlons and a cross-country bicycle ride), tapping into my own creativity as well as taking it to the next step and sharing what I have learned through my own books and TEDx presentation. I believe we have so much more inside of us than we realize and I love to share and see others reach their goals and dreams.  


I wrote...

Habits for Success: Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar (Habits of Successful People)

By G. Brian Benson,

Book cover of Habits for Success: Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar (Habits of Successful People)

What is my book about?

Habits for Success is the perfect blueprint to help you realize a life of progress, purpose, and fulfillment.

Successful habits for an authentic life. Habits for Success was written creatively, consciously, and with heart. Using his own growth process, triumphs, and hero’s journey, author G. Brian Benson weaves authenticity and vulnerability into his habits, ideas, and stories to entertain and inspire you. Increase your self-awareness and manifest your dreams. Habits for Success is written in layman's terms but with an incredible amount of depth, enabling you to reach new levels of understanding and growth. It is a wonderful mix of heart, informative ideas, and entertaining journey―a self-help book that doesn’t feel like one. The insights shared and the tools provided are tailored for life-long success.

Miracle Moments in New York Yankees History

By David Fischer,

Book cover of Miracle Moments in New York Yankees History: The Turning Points, the Memorable Games, the Incredible Records

Fischer’s Miracle Moments in New York Yankees History is aptly divided into five parts, the first of which—“Birth of a Dynasty”—is the most relevant for the current topic. It covers the “Hilltop Highlander” years (1903-1913), the Yankees’ decade at the Polo Grounds as tenants of their arch-rival, the National League’s New York Giants (1913-1922), the sale of the Yankees to Ruppert and Huston (1914-1915), the acquisition of Babe Ruth (1919-1920), and their move to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and their first World Series title (1923). But Fischer’s Miracle Moments has much more to offer than these early days as it provides a panoramic view of the entire Yankees’ franchise from 1903 to the present. 


Who am I?

I grew up a Yankee fan during the Mickey Mantle era, traveling to the Bronx in my uncle’s canary-yellow Chrysler Imperial. Those early experiences set me on a trajectory to want to play baseball every chance I got, starting with Little League and ending up on my high school’s varsity squad. Fortunately, my high school was in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where my family had moved in 1962, the same year that the Yankees began playing their pre-season games in the city, which meant when I wasn’t playing baseball at school, I was hanging around Ft. Lauderdale Stadium watching the Yankees. Yes, the Pinstripe Nation was in my blood. 


I wrote...

The Men Who Made the Yankees: The Odyssey of the World's Greatest Baseball Team from Baltimore to the Bronx

By W. Nikola-Lisa,

Book cover of The Men Who Made the Yankees: The Odyssey of the World's Greatest Baseball Team from Baltimore to the Bronx

What is my book about?

The Men Who Made the Yankees traces the rise of the New York Yankees from the origin of the American League to the Yankees’ first world championship title in 1923. The Men Who Made the Yankees focuses on a handful of club owners and the political and financial pressures that dramatically shaped the arrival of an American League franchise in New York City. 

A baseball enthusiast from a young age, Mr. Nikola-Lisa is also the author of Dear Frank: Babe Ruth, the Red Sox, and the Great War, a work of historical fiction set in Boston during the waning days of the first world war, and the forthcoming The Things He Could Have Been, or The Almost True Story of Babe Ruth.

The Great American Novel

By Philip Roth,

Book cover of The Great American Novel

This is a minor work in Roth’s illustrious career, but it is pure Roth - hilarious and outrageous -  through and through. You can’t not love a novel that begins with an irreverent shot out to Moby Dick: Call me Smitty, is the novel’s first line, penned by a sportswriter and narrator Word Smith. Smitty’s story is the tragic career of the only Babylonian pitcher in major league history, a phenom named Gil Gamesh. (For those who are too far removed from your college classics courses, Gilgamesh is the great epic story of ancient Babylon.) Gil and his catcher concoct a plot to kill an umpire, Mike the Mouth, who never gives them an even break. The would-be murder weapon is a high fastball. Chaos ensues.


Who am I?

I grew up in rural Iowa in the 1950s and 60s, a place far removed from most of the world. Our town had no movie theater, no library, no anything except for a truly excellent baseball field. So we played – day, night, with full teams or three brothers or all by yourself. We also were tasked by our father with caring for the diamond, which was the home park for the local semi-pro team, the Cascade Reds. When I left town – fled would be a better description – I took my love of baseball with me. I played baseball in Vietnam, watched games in Hiroshima, Japan, Seoul, Korea, LA, Chicago, Seattle, Kansas City, and St. Louis. I could go on like this for a long time, but I think you get the picture.


I wrote...

Off Speed: Baseball, Pitching, and the Art of Deception

By Terry McDermott,

Book cover of Off Speed: Baseball, Pitching, and the Art of Deception

What is my book about?

Off Speed: Baseball, Pitching and the Art of Deception is about one-third a history of the game, one-third a detailed examination of a single game – Felix Hernandez’s 2012 perfect game, and tucked in there somewhere a history of my personal fandom which means lots of Iowa, lots of fathers and sons and Seattle and Dave Niehaus and all kinds of other stuff. These are, of course, all mixed together so you have to read the parts you didn’t know you’d like to get to the parts you did. Tricky, huh?

Oscar Charleston

By Jeremy Beer,

Book cover of Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball's Greatest Forgotten Player

Charleston is one of the very best to ever play in the Negro Leagues. He entered Black baseball even before the first Negro League was started and played 27 seasons up to World War II. He managed in the Negro Leagues for 15 seasons, his gigs including the Pittsburgh Crawfords of the early 1930s, one of the best professional teams of all time. Beer’s award-winning book tells the whole life of this Hall of Famer and straightens out historical misconceptions, for example showing that his reputation for dirty play and a terrible temper is ill-founded (“While he was happy to join fights in progress, he did not usually start them”).


Who am I?

I have long been fascinated by how Black players and team owners strove to put forward their best efforts in the decades before professional baseball was integrated in the late 1940s. I have been researching and writing about the Negro Leagues for more than 30 years, with three books and several contributions to Black baseball compilations to my credit. I was a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame special committee that elected 17 Black baseball figures to the Hall in 2006. Black baseball’s efforts were finally acknowledged in 2020 when Major League Baseball, which once wanted nothing to do with the Negro Leagues (except to sign away their best players starting in 1946), finally acknowledged them as major leagues.


I wrote...

Queen of the Negro Leagues: Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles

By James Overmyer,

Book cover of Queen of the Negro Leagues: Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles

What is my book about?

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, this book honors the life of Effa Manley, the trailblazing female co-owner of baseball’s Newark Eagles. She was the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, there was no one like her in the sports world of the 1930s and 1940s. She was a sophisticated woman who owned a baseball team. She never shrank from going head to head with men, who dominated the ranks of sports executives. That her life story remained unchronicled for so long can only be attributed to one thing: her team, the Newark Eagles, belonged to the Negro Leagues.

This important work shines the spotlight on a previously unsung segment of baseball history. Drawing extensively from Eagle team records and Manley’s scrapbook, Queen of the Negro Leagues is the definitive biography of a groundbreaking female sports executive.

Young Woman and the Sea

By Glenn Stout,

Book cover of Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World

These days Gertrude Ederle is unfamiliar to many of us, but a century ago she was an athletic champion whose celebrity rivaled Babe Ruth’s. In 1926, two years after winning three medals at the Paris Olympics, she became the first woman to swim the English Channel, an amazing feat of endurance and perseverance that took 14 hours and 37 minutes, a time almost two hours faster than the speediest of the five men who had gone before her. Along with recreating Ederle’s harrowing Channel journey in vivid detail, renowned sportswriter Glenn Stout infuses life back into Ederle and shows us why President Coolidge called her “America’s Best Girl.”


Who am I?

My novels explore women whose contributions to culture have been relegated to the footnotes of mainstream history books, and in few areas have women been more overlooked than in sports. Because of the achievements of today’s female athletes, ranging from the many athletic opportunities available to our young daughters to the professional success of women like Serena Williams, it’s easy to think that progress for women’s sports has come a long way—and in many ways, it has, thanks to legislative protections like Title IX—but these achievements reflect over a century’s worth of sacrifice by many unheralded women athletes. Here are five books that highlight this journey.


I wrote...

Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women's Olympic Team

By Elise Hooper,

Book cover of Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women's Olympic Team

What is my book about?

Fast Girls is historical fiction inspired by the real-life women track stars of the late 1920s and ‘30s. Three young women—Betty Robinson, Louise Stokes, and Helen Stephens—will join with others to defy society’s expectations of what women can achieve. As tensions bring the United States and Europe closer and closer to the brink of war, these women must fight for the chance to compete as the fastest women in the world amidst the pomp and pageantry of the Nazi-sponsored 1936 Olympics in Berlin. 

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