Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

MLB News arrow-downArrow Down icon Arrow Up icon

Looking back at a page-turning year in baseball

Several notable books about America's pastime were published in '17
December 27, 2017

Baseball, it seems, creates a wider and more diverse spectrum of literature than any other sport. And 2017 was no exception.Here is a look at some of the notable and significant baseball books that were published in the last 12 months. It's not intended as a best-of list and there

Baseball, it seems, creates a wider and more diverse spectrum of literature than any other sport. And 2017 was no exception.
Here is a look at some of the notable and significant baseball books that were published in the last 12 months. It's not intended as a best-of list and there is no pretense of being a complete accounting of all the excellent works published this year.
• "The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse," by Tom Verducci
When the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, for the first time in 108 years, it was inevitable that books would follow. Verducci's detailed inside look at how Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Joe Maddon helped break the longest drought in sports history was easily the most acclaimed.
• "2017 World Series Champions: Houston Astros," by Major League Baseball
• "Astros Strong: Houston's Historic 2017 Championship Season," by the Houston Chronicle
The Astros' first championship quickly birthed two books, with a third -- "Hurricane Season: The Unforgettable Story of the 2017 Houston Astros and the Resilience of a City," by Joe Holley -- due out May 1.
• "Big Chair: The Smooth Hops and Bad Bounces from the Inside World of the Acclaimed Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager," by Ned Colletti with Joseph A. Reaves
Colletti has had an interesting life. This book focuses on his time as GM of the Dodgers from 2006 to 2014, when much of the work that landed the franchise in the 2017 World Series was done.
• "Lou: Fifty Years of Kicking Dirt, Playing Hard, and Winning Big in the Sweet Spot of Baseball," by Lou Piniella with Bill Madden
Piniella recalls nearly 50 years in baseball, first as a player and then as the colorful manager of the Yankees, Reds, Mariners, Devil Rays and Cubs.
• "Ballplayer," by Chipper Jones with Carroll Rogers Walton
Jones, a potential first-ballot Hall of Famer this year, provides a candid and casual look at how he became one of the best switch-hitters in baseball history.
• "Papi: My Story," by David Ortiz with Michael Holley
Ortiz was one of the most compelling players of his era and his outsize personality comes through in these pages as well.
• "The Streak: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken Jr., and Baseball's Most Historic Record," by John Eisenberg
If anything, the title may actually undersell this wide-ranging look at two of baseball's most iconic players, as it encompasses not only the men, but their times and all things streak related.
• "Casey Stengel: Baseball's Greatest Character," by Marty Appel
Stengel managed some of baseball's best teams while winning 10 championships with the Yankees, and the worst ever when his 1962 Mets lost 120 games, but he always managed to entertain.
• "Leo Durocher: Baseball's Prodigal Son," by Paul Dickson
Durocher and Stengel were great rivals going back to their playing days, so it's interesting that both were the subjects of new bios this year. Dickson explains why Durocher was both loved and reviled.
• "Lefty O'Doul: Baseball's Forgotten Ambassador," by Dennis Snelling
O'Doul was a very good player, but, as Snelling points out, his greatest legacy may have been off the field.
• "Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War," by Ron Kaplan
Greenberg was one of baseball's first Jewish stars and this book examines the implications of that as Hitler came to power.
• "Dick Allen: The Life and Times of a Baseball Immortal," by William C. Kashatus
One of the most controversial players of his era is put into context.
• "The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain and the End of Baseball's Golden Age," by Sridhar Pappu
This book chronicles the 1968 season, during which Gibson had a 1.12 ERA and McLain won 30 games, leading to rules changes to add more offense to the game. It also examines the racial atmosphere of the times.
• "Electric October: Seven World Series Games, Six Lives, Five Minutes of Fame That Lasted Forever," by Kevin Cook
The 1947 World Series between the Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers featured big names like Joe DiMaggio and Jackie Robinson. Cook focuses on lesser-known men who found the spotlight in one of the most exciting Fall Classics ever.
• "The Pride of the Yankees: The Movie that Defined the Legacy of Lou Gehrig," by Richard Sandomir
A behind-the-scenes look at how a classic American movie came to be.
• "Smart Baseball: The Story Behind the Old Stats That Are Ruining the Game, the New Ones That are Running It, and the Right Way to Think About Baseball," by Keith Law
The rise of advanced analytics has changed baseball, and Law both informs and provokes as he examines this trend.
• "The Cooperstown Casebook: Who's in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Who Should Be In, and Who Should Pack Their Plaques," by Jay Jaffe
Everybody has an opinion about who belongs in the Hall of Fame, but Jaffe expertly backs up his opinions with compelling facts.
• "A Deadly Game," by Gary M. Lepper
A trial lawyer provides a page-turning romp full of suspense and intrigue.
• "The Backwards K," by J.J. Hebert
An aging baseball great is forced to confront the end of his career in this inspirational novel.
• "Diamonds from the Dugout: 115 Baseball Legends Remember Their Greatest Hits," by Mark Newman's Enterprise Editor got some surprising answers when he asked a wide spectrum of players what their favorite hit was, and why.

Paul Hagen is a national columnist for