The best books about Major League Baseball

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

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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.

The Glory of Their Times

By Lawrence S. Ritter,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Glory of Their Times as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Easily the best baseball book ever produced by anyone.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer

“This was the best baseball book published in 1966, it is the best baseball book of its kind now, and, if it is reissued in 10 years, it will be the best baseball book.” — People

From Lawrence Ritter (The Image of Their Greatness, The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time), comes one of the bestselling, most acclaimed sports books of all time, The Glory of Their Times—now a Harper Perennial Modern Classic.

Baseball was different in earlier days—tougher, more raw, more intimate—when giants like Babe Ruth…


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).

Baseball

By Dorothy Seymour Mills, Harold Seymour,

Book cover of Baseball: The Golden Age

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.

Baseball

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…

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.

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.

The Pitch That Killed

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…

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.

American Baseball. Vol. 1

By David Quentin Voigt,

Book cover of American Baseball. Vol. 1: From Gentleman’s Sport to the Commissioner System

Author Voigt produced three volumes of work, detailing the history of the game from its roots in the early nineteenth century, through the latter part of the twentieth. Volume One begins with a debunking of the myth that Abner Doubleday created the game in the green fields of Cooperstown, New York. Voigt in using a tremendous amount of research material, traces the modernization of baseball from a gentleman’s game played for amusement and relaxation to a professional organization built to win.

Readers interested in learning how the game evolved from underhand pitching to a mound sixty feet six inches and three outs to a side would benefit from studying this work.

American Baseball. Vol. 1

By David Quentin Voigt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How did "America's National Game" evolve from a gentlemen's pastime in the 1850s to a national obsession in the Roaring Twenties? What really happened at Cooperstown in 1839, and why does the "Doubleday legend" persist? How did the commissioner system develop, and what was the impact of the "Black Sox" scandal? These questions and many others are answered in this book, with colorful details about early big league stars such as Mike "King" Kelly and pious Billy Sunday, Charles Comiskey and Ty Cobb, Napoleon Lajoie and "Cy" (Cyclone) Young.

The author explores historically the four major periods of transformation of…


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.

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.

Babe

By Robert Creamer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Portrays the struggles and achievements of baseball's most colorful hero.

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.

Girl at Heart

By Kelly Oram,

Book cover of Girl at Heart

Kelly Oram writes great YA romances. You sort of feel like you’re back in high school, but without the pressure of finishing your homework and remembering your locker combination. Everything embarrasses teens, so of course, there are some embarrassing moments in her books too. 

I liked this one because the heroine loved sports but had a hard time getting her teammates to see her for who she was. Sometimes we all just want people to see who we are and not what we do.

Girl at Heart

By Kelly Oram,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the daughter of a successful Major League pitcher, Charlie Hastings has baseball in her blood. Unfortunately, being the only girl on her high school baseball team, Charlie has always been just one of the guys.When her best friend, and secret love of her life, asks another girl to the prom, Charlie is devastated. She’s tired of being overlooked by boys because she’s not like other girls. Suffering a massive identity crisis, she decides to hang up her cleats and finally learn how to be a girl.But with only two weeks until the state championships, the Roosevelt High Ravens can’t…

Who am I?

Why do I have expertise on embarrassing moments? I wish I could say I just enjoy watching other people occasionally squirm and nothing humiliating has ever happened to me. That would be such a lie, though. I’m an embarrassing moment waiting to happen. I rode to the vet with a cat who wanted to cling to the top of my head. I got stuck in a gas station in the middle of nowhere. I (nearly) locked myself out of my house in my pajamas. The only good thing about having embarrassing moments is that you can use them in your novels. And I do.


I wrote...

Just One Wish

By Janette Rallison,

Book cover of Just One Wish

What is my book about?

She’d go to the ends of the earth—or at least Hollywood—to save her brother’s life. Annika Truman has never considered "genie" as a career option, but maybe she should have. She’s convinced if she fulfills her little brother’s only wish before his cancer surgery, he’ll have a better chance of pulling through. The trouble is, Jeremy wants the actor who plays Teen Robinhood to pay him a visit. Steve Raleigh is handsome, cocky, and most likely unreachable. And worse, Annika only has a couple of days to find him and convince him to visit her brother. Still, she has to try.

Glory Days in Tribe Town

By Terry Pluto, Tom Hamilton,

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

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.

Glory Days in Tribe Town

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…

Who am I?

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


I wrote...

Before We Ever Spoke: A Novel

By Dan Largent,

Book cover of Before We Ever Spoke: A Novel

What is my book about?

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

Book cover of Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game

John Thorn—the official historian of Major League Baseball—is a living encyclopedia, and this is his definitive tome on the game’s nineteenth-century beginnings, from the amateur era to the rise of the first professional leagues. This and Gilbert’s book might be viewed as companion pieces—indeed, Thorn wrote the introduction to How Baseball Happened—and both dispel the ridiculous myth that the game was invented in Cooperstown, New York by a young man who would grow up to be a Civil War hero, but Thorn goes deep on the fascinating story of who created that myth, and why, which is a tale so odd it’s nearly novelistic.

Baseball in the Garden of Eden

By John Thorn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now available in paperback, the “fresh and fascinating” (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland), “splendid and brilliant” (Philadelphia Daily News) history of the early game by the Official Historian of Major League Baseball.

Who really invented baseball? Forget Abner Doubleday at Cooperstown and Alexander Cartwright. Meet Daniel Lucius Adams, William Rufus Wheaton, and other fascinating figures buried beneath the falsehoods that have accrued around baseball’s origins. This is the true story of how organized baseball started, how gambling shaped the game from its earliest days, and how it became our national pastime and our national mirror.

Baseball in the Garden of Eden…

Who am I?

I split my writing time between fiction and non-fiction, the latter usually baseball-themed, and I’ve published two books of baseball writing. My reading is similarly bifurcated; there’s always a baseball book on my nightstand. I’ve also got a background in history, and I genuinely enjoy deep research (it’s a great way to put off, you know, writing). Baseball is such fertile ground, so ripe for deep dives—the nexus of sport, culture, entertainment, economics, labour relations, etc. The best baseball books are more than boxscores and transactions, they place the game in its historical context. Books that manage to synthesize all of the above are some of my favourite reads.


I wrote...

The Only Way Is the Steady Way: Essays on Baseball, Ichiro, and How We Watch the Game

By Andrew Forbes,

Book cover of The Only Way Is the Steady Way: Essays on Baseball, Ichiro, and How We Watch the Game

What is my book about?

The Only Way Is the Steady Way is a baseball memoir in scorecards and baseball cards, a recollection of the game’s biggest stars and most outlandish personalities, and introspective letters to a legendary player. These essays examine the meaning of baseball across international borders and at all levels of the game—from Little League diamonds to big league ballparks. Parents learn unexpected lessons at t-ball, cheap souvenirs reveal their hidden significance, and baseball’s beating heart is exposed through sharply beautiful observations about the history of the game. Forbes locates peace, reassurance, and a way to measure the passage of time with home run bonanzas, old games on YouTube, and especially in the unique career of beloved outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.

The Bad Guys Won

By Jeff Pearlman,

Book cover of The Bad Guys Won

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

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

The Bad Guys Won

By Jeff Pearlman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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

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

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


Who am I?

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


I wrote...

Before We Ever Spoke: A Novel

By Dan Largent,

Book cover of Before We Ever Spoke: A Novel

What is my book about?

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

Negro League Baseball

By Neil Lanctot,

Book cover of Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution

The Negro Leagues, like all organized sports leagues, were showcases for the stars of the game – Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, and the like. But, like all the other leagues, they were businesses, too. Sports entrepreneurs, most of them African American, invested in all-Black teams that formed a “shadow” alternative to Major League Baseball where the players, and most of the owners, too, were not welcome due to segregation. Lanctot, a history professor comfortable with deep and extensive research, chronicles the successes and failures of the Black leagues, which were almost always existing on a financial knife’s edge, until the integration of pro ball in 1946 spelled their death.

Negro League Baseball

By Neil Lanctot,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The story of black professional baseball provides a remarkable perspective on several major themes in modern African American history: the initial black response to segregation, the subsequent struggle to establish successful separate enterprises, and the later movement toward integration. Baseball functioned as a critical component in the separate economy catering to black consumers in the urban centers of the North and South. While most black businesses struggled to survive from year to year, professional baseball teams and leagues operated for decades, representing a major achievement in black enterprise and institution building.
Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a…


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.

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