The most recommended baseball books

Who picked these books? Meet our 93 experts.

93 authors created a book list connected to baseball, and here are their favorite baseball books.
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Book cover of The Cactus League

R. Scott Mackey Author Of Courage Matters

From my list on baseball about flawed people trying their best.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve played the game of baseball, rooted for its teams, and even written a book about baseball (and the protagonist in my novels is a baseball nut), so I’m more than a casual observer of the sport. I’ve read more than two hundred baseball books–fiction and non-fiction–in my life. As such it was nearly impossible to come up with my top five books on the sport. I’m recommending these five because they transcend the subject of baseball, exploring universal themes with exemplary writing that evokes deep feelings within the reader. Whether you like baseball or not, if you love fine writing you can’t go wrong with any of these works. 

R. Scott's book list on baseball about flawed people trying their best

R. Scott Mackey Why did R. Scott love this book?

This novel is told in several standalone chapters that Nemens neatly ties together at the end. This is equally a book about baseball and the human condition told in one spring training season in Arizona. The author fell in love with the sport while attending games with her dad. You can feel this shared affection for the game and its unique ability to bond people of all stripes in every page of the book.

By Emily Nemens,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR and Lit Hub. A Los Angeles Times Bestseller. A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

"In The Cactus League [Emily Nemens] provides her readers with what amounts to a miniature, self-enclosed world that is funny and poignant and lovingly observed." --Charles McGrath, The New York Times Book Review

An explosive, character-driven odyssey through the world of baseball

Jason Goodyear is the star outfielder for the Los Angeles Lions, stationed with the rest of his team in the punishingly hot Arizona desert for their annual spring training. Handsome, famous, and talented, Goodyear…


Book cover of Bang the Drum Slowly

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?

Okay, two books--but they’re really one. The Southpaw is about Henry Wiggen the baseball player finding his way in the major leagues.  A sports book by and large.  And then the fastball to the heart--Bang the Drum Slowly. The vagaries and tragedies of life intrude on the pristine baseball field, and Wiggen and the rest have to deal with reality:  boys grow into men; men sicken, men die. These books inspired me when I decided to become a writer of sports novels. They showed me that not only could I write a sports book about more than sports, but also that I needed to write a sports book about more than sports. Why bother otherwise? 

By Mark Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Henry Wiggen, hero of The Southpaw and the best-known fictional baseball player in America, is back again, throwing a baseball "with his arm and his brain and his memory and his bluff for the sake of his pocket and his family." More than a novel about baseball, Bang the Drum Slowly is about the friendship and the lives of a group of men as they each learn that a teammate is dying of cancer. Bang the Drum Slowly was chosen as one of the top one hundred sports books of all time by Sports Illustrated and appears on numerous other…


Book cover of Pink Is for Boys

Matthew Ralph Author Of Family Means...

From my list on children’s books about diversity and inclusion.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a British author who specializes in writing about diversity and inclusion. I’ve always been a firm believer in equality for all, and I think diversity is such a vital subject for children to learn. It’s so important to teach children to love themselves and treat others how they would want to be treated, even if they are different than you. I believe a little bit of love goes a long way. I hope you enjoy my list of children’s books about diversity and share in my passion for children’s books that champion love and acceptance for everyone.

Matthew's book list on children’s books about diversity and inclusion

Matthew Ralph Why did Matthew love this book?

The idea that certain colors are only for certain genders has always bothered me. So, I love that this book addresses this subject without being “preachy.” It simply says that all colors are for everyone: boys and girls alike. It’s such an important message for children to learn and it allows young people to celebrate their own identity without fear of judgment. The text itself is very simple and uses clean but impressively colorful illustrations to tell the story. 

By Robb Pearlman, Eda Kaban (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pink Is for Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An empowering and educational picture book that proves colors are for everyone, regardless of gender.

Pink is for boys . . . and girls . . . and everyone! This timely and beautiful picture book rethinks and reframes the stereotypical blue/pink gender binary and empowers kids-and their grown-ups-to express themselves in every color of the rainbow. Featuring a diverse group of relatable characters, Pink Is for Boys invites and encourages girls and boys to enjoy what they love to do, whether it's racing cars and playing baseball, or loving unicorns and dressing up. Vibrant illustrations help children learn and identify…


Book cover of The Resisters

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 was looking forward to this one and read it as soon as it came out, early on in these pandemic times. It’s not really a baseball novel, except it kinda, sorta is. Mostly, it’s a subversive look at a dystopian future that turns on the redemptive power of baseball. It made a lot of noise on publication, but the focus of most of the reviews leaned away from the baseball bits and into the dystopian bits. Gish Jen writes gloriously about the game – but also about life and love, longing and belonging, hope and hopelessness. 

By Gish Jen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The moving story of one family struggling to maintain their humanity in circumstances that threaten their every value—from the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of Thank You, Mr. Nixon. • “Intricately imagined … [It] grows directly out of the soil of our current political moment.” —The New York Times Book Review

The time: not so long from now. The place: AutoAmerica, a country surveilled by one “Aunt Nettie,” a Big Brother that is part artificial intelligence, part internet, and oddly human—even funny. The people: divided. The “angelfair” Netted have jobs and, what with the country half under water, literally occupy the…


Book cover of Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero

R. Scott Mackey Author Of Courage Matters

From my list on baseball about flawed people trying their best.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve played the game of baseball, rooted for its teams, and even written a book about baseball (and the protagonist in my novels is a baseball nut), so I’m more than a casual observer of the sport. I’ve read more than two hundred baseball books–fiction and non-fiction–in my life. As such it was nearly impossible to come up with my top five books on the sport. I’m recommending these five because they transcend the subject of baseball, exploring universal themes with exemplary writing that evokes deep feelings within the reader. Whether you like baseball or not, if you love fine writing you can’t go wrong with any of these works. 

R. Scott's book list on baseball about flawed people trying their best

R. Scott Mackey Why did R. Scott love this book?

Maraniss writes books that are meticulously researched while still providing sweeping perspectives. This biography about one of baseball’s greatest players is no exception. Born in rural Puerto Rico, Clemente became one of the first–and greatest–Latino players in the major leagues. His unique grace, dignity and charity for others helped him rise above simply being a “baseball player” to become a symbol of an era. Clemente’s death in a 1972 airplane crash while on a mission to deliver food and supplies to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua was both tragic and revealtory about the goodness of the man.

By David Maraniss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discover the remarkable life of Roberto Clemente—one of the most accomplished—and beloved—baseball heroes of his generation from Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss.

On New Year’s Eve 1972, following eighteen magnificent seasons in the major leagues, Roberto Clemente died a hero’s death, killed in a plane crash as he attempted to deliver food and medical supplies to Nicaragua after a devastating earthquake. David Maraniss now brings the great baseball player brilliantly back to life in Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero, a book destined to become a modern classic. Much like his acclaimed biography of Vince Lombardi, When…


Book cover of The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth

David Kruh Author Of Inseparable: An Alcatraz Escape Adventure

From David's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author History lover Writer Geek Reader Gardner

David's 3 favorite reads in 2023

David Kruh Why did David love this book?

In The Big Bam Montville peels back the onion of legend and apocryphal stories to tell us the story – warts and booze and babes and all – of one of the most important figures of the 20th century... not just in sports, but in America.

This book is more than just the stories or the anecdotes. This book is a joy because of the way Montville writes. He is lyrical and poetic without being syrupy. Honest and probing without being cruel. When I grow up, I want to write like Leigh Montville.

By Leigh Montville,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

National Bestseller

He was the Sultan of Swat. The Caliph of Clout. The Wizard of Whack. The Bambino. And simply, to his teammates, the Big Bam. 

Babe Ruth was more than baseball’s original superstar. For eighty-five years, he has remained the sport’s reigning titan. He has been named Athlete of the Century . . . more than once. But who was this large, loud, enigmatic man? Why is so little known about his childhood, his private life, and his inner thoughts? In The Big Bam, Leigh Montville, whose recent New York Times bestselling biography of Ted Williams garnered glowing reviews…


Book cover of Ballpark: Baseball in the American City

Jerald Podair Author Of City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles

From my list on American baseball stadiums.

Why am I passionate about this?

Major league baseball stadiums have always enthralled me—their architectures, their atmospheres, their surroundings. Each has a unique story to tell. So I decided to tell the story of how perhaps the greatest of all American ballparks, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, came to be. As an urban historian, I also wished to tell a broader story of how the argument between 1957 and 1962 over whether, where, and how to build the stadium helped make Los Angeles into the modern city we know today. So writing City of Dreams allowed me to combine my passions for baseball, for stadiums, and for the history of American cities.

Jerald's book list on American baseball stadiums

Jerald Podair Why did Jerald love this book?

The most comprehensive history of the American baseball stadium ever produced, and one that could only have been written by Paul Goldberger, America’s preeminent architectural critic. Unlike many of his brethren, Goldberger’s writing has always been clean, clear, and blissfully jargon-free, and his historical tour of ballparks from their inauspicious 19th century beginnings to the retro pleasure-and-marketing palaces of our own time is authoritative and wonderfully readable. 

By Paul Goldberger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An exhilarating, splendidly illustrated, entirely new look at the history of baseball: told through the stories of the vibrant and ever-changing ballparks where the game was and is staged, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic.

From the earliest corrals of the mid-1800s (Union Grounds in Brooklyn was a "saloon in the open air"), to the much mourned parks of the early 1900s (Detroit's Tiger Stadium, Cincinnati's Palace of the Fans), to the stadiums we fill today, Paul Goldberger makes clear the inextricable bond between the American city and America's favorite pastime. In the changing locations and architecture of our ballparks,…


Book cover of Dad, Jackie, and Me

Michael Thal Author Of The Lip Reader

From my list on effect of deafness and understanding deaf people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a teacher when I awoke one morning to an unnatural silence. The ENT specialist said the rare virus would return and I’d become deaf one day. Six years later he was proven right, and I had to accept disability because I couldn’t understand my students. I took American Sign Language classes at a local community college, and I taught myself to write. I penned six novels; two about deafness. At the turn of the century, I met Jila, an amazing deaf woman. She told me stories about growing up deaf and Jewish in Iran. After her death from colon cancer, I put her stories together and novelized her life in The Lip Reader.

Michael's book list on effect of deafness and understanding deaf people

Michael Thal Why did Michael love this book?

As a deaf man, I’ve run into people who refuse to talk to me because of their prejudices toward deaf people. This includes my own brother, friends, and cousins.

Prejudice in American society is ubiquitous. No one knew this better than Myron Uhlberg’s father, a deaf man. When Branch Rickie decided to break the color barrier in baseball by hiring Jackie Robinson as the starting first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Mr. Uhlberg understood immediately the difficulties the ballplayer would encounter from racist athletes and fans. Though Uhlberg knew nothing about baseball, he became one of Robinson’s adoring fans at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York during the 1947 baseball season.

Myron and his father visited Ebbets Field frequently during Robinson’s rookie year. Author Myron Uhlberg and illustrator Colin Bootman produce an emotionally packed picture book kids can understand and learn about diversity in their award-winning picture book, Dad, Jackie,…

By Myron Uhlberg, Colin Bootman (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dad, Jackie, and Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award

A young boy and his deaf father bond over baseball as they root for Jackie Robinson and the Dodgers to win the pennant. 

It was Opening Day, 1947. And every kid in Brooklyn knew this was our year. The Dodgers were going to go all the way!
 
In the summer of 1947, a highly charged baseball season is underway.  The new first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson, is the first Black player in Major League Baseball--- and it looks like the team might have what it takes to get to the…


Book cover of Hey, Dollface

Sarah Terez Rosenblum Author Of Herself When She's Missing

From my list on people who should know better than to be obsessed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m obsessed with obsession; with the nature of intimate relationships. If I could obsess about a topic as easily and naturally as I can about a human, I’d probably have five or six advanced degrees. As a writer I’m most frequently drawn to third-person limited because I love the marriage of intimacy and distance it can create. It's that marriage that confounds me; the dark inner spaces contained by the people we love. 

Sarah's book list on people who should know better than to be obsessed

Sarah Terez Rosenblum Why did Sarah love this book?

This book was ahead of its time. This YA novel was written in 1978 but I found it on a shelf in my local library in 1992 when I was a queer preteen. An elliptical narrative about the burgeoning romantic relationship between two teenage girls, the novel captures a nameless yearning I understood without knowing why. Though the narrative felt to me illicit, it wasn’t prurient but rather deeply felt and authentic to the experience of a teenager coming to understand her sexuality as it crystalizes around one compelling friend.

By Deborah Hautzig,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Val and Chloe don't fit in at their fancy private school in Manhattan. Together, they ditch school, visit cemeteries and thrift shops and have sleepovers during which they confide all their secret thoughts. Lately, Val has all kinds of questions. Especially about sex. So Val turns to the two people who have always given her the most honest answers possible: her mother and Chloe. Unfortunately, not even Val's mother-an adult!-has all the answers. Val starts to think that maybe she's not "normal" at all. Because she has some other feelings for Chloe. Feelings that she never expected to have. Would…


Book cover of Not Here to Be Liked

Miel Moreland Author Of It Goes Like This

From my list on young adult about ambitious girls.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was an ambitious teen, and as I entered adulthood, my relationship with ambition has continually evolved. Those of us with marginalized genders sometimes have our ambition treated with suspicion or scorn—by peers, family, or would-be mentors. I wanted to share books that don’t necessarily come to the same conclusion about ambition’s role in our lives, but that all grapple with what it means to be ambitious in a culture where that is often seen as threatening or unladylike—or where any sign of ambition gets one automatically labeled as “unlikeable.” I love these books’ narrators, and I hope you will find something to love in them too. 

Miel's book list on young adult about ambitious girls

Miel Moreland Why did Miel love this book?

Eliza is passed over for editor-in-chief of her school paper in favor of a less experienced boy... then her private manifesto against the injustice is leaked, and the resulting school conflict becomes about more positions than just hers. It’s a layered, thoroughly feminist look into the complexities of ambition, against the broader backdrop of Asian diaspora communities. 

By Michelle Quach,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Not Here to Be Liked 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?

"Will leave a mark on your heart." Stephanie Garber, author of the Caraval series

"A smart romance with heart and guts and all the intoxicating feelings in between." Maureen Johnson, author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes

Falling in love wasn't part of the plan.

Eliza Quan fully expects to be voted the next editor in chief of her school paper. She works hard, she respects the facts, and she has the most experience. Len DiMartile is an injured star baseball player who seems to have joined the paper just to have something to do. Naturally, the staff picks Len to…