The Best Books on Baseball
For the start of the baseball season, former MLB player Doug Glanville shares his favorite books on the sport. His new book,
The Game From Where I Stand, is out next month. Plus,
view our gallery of presidents' first-pitches.
Baseball is an inspiring game. Many have tried to explain why and how, but it is what it is... My take is that it is every day life in the purest of forms. Games come at you relentlessly no matter if you are rested, sick, excited, edgy, or tired of your favorite team's excuses. You have to face yourself and your opponent every single day and find a way to make it to the next one. The ebbs and flows, highs and lows of a game make for great poetry by celebrating expectation, hope, dream, and possibility and just when you think you have it figured out, it rains, the season ends, it goes on strike, Mike Schmidt retires, and once again you are humbled by everything life has taught us. It isn't all in our hands. You just never know.
Several weeks ago, I was asked by The Daily Beast to recommend my favorite books that capture the spirit and essence of baseball.
The Long Season
By Jim Brosnan
50 years ago, Jim Brosnan let fans into the life of a baseball player. His book is witty, smooth, literary, and familiar. As a former player who played decades after Brosnan’s tenure, the stories took my back to many a moment during my career. I learned how much artistry and poetry there is in baseball.
The Complete Game
By Ron Darling
Wonderful insight into the mind and soul of a pitcher. Even though I enjoyed a 15 season professional career, as a position player, I only knew so much about what it means to be a pitcher. Darling brilliantly breaks his book into parts where each chapter is an inning in a complete game, using stories to support what state a pitcher is in during that frame in the marathon of a complete game.
Safe at Home
By Alyssa Milano
An upbeat and deep outpouring of an obsessed Dodger fan who happens to be a star actress. She points out that women are and have been great and knowledgeable fans and makes excellent comparisons to a life in baseball and a life in Hollywood. Her breakdown of steroids in the context of an actress trying to stay young is second to none.
Three Nights in August
By Buzz Bissinger
Buzz writes like a magician, so that was a given, but what I liked about this book was deeply personal. He walked us through three games in 2003. Cubs v. Cardinals, when I was playing for the Cubs. In effect, he left me a literary description of a snapshot of my life in baseball, during my twilight years. It was like seeing something again from a new angle. In this case, through the mind and savvy of Tony LaRussa.
I Had A Hammer
By Hank Aaron
An amazing journey into the soul and life of Hank Aaron. It was shocking to read this the first time marked by how a great moment like breaking Babe Ruth's career home run record was laced with hatred and disdain. I felt like I was there. I also was humbled by learning how hard it was for black players during a time when I was already here on Earth. It certainly helped me appreciate how someone can achieve such greatness against so many odds.
By Jose Canseco
Canseco has been brushed off as the "crazy man in the room" but there is little "crazy" in this book. In fact it appears to be a very honest assessment of steroids and baseball. I learned how much science goes into the program for players who chose to juice, not to mention that my Dad (a psychiatrist when he was with us) would be proud to know that Psych 101 was at work in showing how family can play such a dynamic role in your choices. Canseco battled insecurity and living up to a promise he made his Mom on her deathbed and it shaped his choices throughout.
Doug Glanville played center field for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and Texas Rangers from 1996 through 2004. His new book, The Game from Where I Stand, is out in early May. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he lives with his family in Chicago.