Person holding two baseballs. Photo by Jose Morales on Unsplash
Monday, March 04, 2019 Charleston County Library

The crack of the bat. The roar of the crowd. The smell of peanuts and hot dogs and dollar beers. These are the signs that baseball season is back! 

From the opening pitch, through the seventh inning stretch, and to the final out, it seems everyone has a story of a warm summer night under the lights cheering on the home team. 

Dust off those cleats, oil up your glove, and join us on a trip through the CCPL  catalog to find some books to add to your TBR list. We have a list long enough to take you through spring training, past opening day, and into the pennant races. 

There's something for everyone in this list! See baseball through the lens of black history, true crime, and statistics, or enjoy a historical picture book with the kids.

 

The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls by Jason Turbow with Michael Duca
Everyone knows that baseball is a game of complicated rules, but it turns out to be even more complex than we realize. Jason Turbow and Michael Duca take us behind the scenes of the great American pastime. Players talk about the game as they never have before, breaking the code of secrecy that surrounds so much of baseball, both on the field and in the clubhouse. We learn why pitchers sometimes do retaliate when one of their teammates is hit by a pitch and other times let it go. We hear about the subtle forms of payback that occur when a player violates the rules out of ignorance instead of disrespect. We find out why cheating is acceptable (but getting caught at cheating is not), and how off-field tensions can get worked out on the diamond. These tacit rules are illuminated with often incredible stories about everyone from national heroes true eccentrics.

 

Baseball Crazy : Ten Short Stories That Cover All the Bases by Nancy E. Mercado
How magical is the experience of attending your very first baseball game and hearing the crack of the bat resound throughout the stadium? Whatas more terrifying than being out in left field praying the ball doesnat come your way? Who better are the friends you make while playing out on that diamond? Here are ten new fictional stories that celebrate all aspects of the game of baseball. And what a starting lineup From John H. Ritter, author of The Boy Who Saved Baseball, to Newbery Awardawinning Jerry Spinelli, this is a gathering of ten great authors for children, some of whom are specifically known for their writing about baseball. Featuring a story told in poems and another in a play format, Baseball Crazy is a truly diverse collection that will appeal to fanatics of the sport as well as those sitting hesitantly out on the bench.

 

Free Baseball by Sue Corbett
Felix knows his dad was a famous baseball player in Cuba--and that his father risked everything to send Felix to America. But his mom won't reveal anything else. When a team with Cuban players comes into town, Felix wonders if they knew his dad, and sneaks into their locker room to ask. That's when the players mistake him for their new batboy. To uncover his father's story, Felix runs away from home to become the team's batboy.

His bittersweet adventure glows with the friendship of a miraculous dog, the warmth of a mother's love, and the magic of baseball.

 

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick
Effa always loved baseball. As a young woman, she would go to Yankee Stadium just to see Babe Ruth's mighty swing. But she never dreamed she would someday own a baseball team. Or be the first--and only--woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

From her childhood in Philadelphia to her groundbreaking role as business manager and owner of the Newark Eagles, Effa Manley always fought for what was right. And she always swung for the fences.

 

Mama Played Baseball by David Adler
Amy's dad is away, fighting in World War II, and her mama must take a job. But it's no ordinary job--Amy's mother becomes a baseball player in the first professional women's league! Amy cheers louder than anyone at all of the home games. And while Mama's team travels, Amy works on a secret project--a surprise for her dad when he is finally back home.

With warmhearted, historically based text and lush illustrations, award-winning author David A. Adler and talented new artist Chris O'Leary bring to life the soaring spirit of the 1940s. Featured in the major motion picture A League of Their Own , the All-American Girls Professional League helped women prove that no war could stop the great game of baseball.

The Boy Who Saved Baseball by John H. Ritter
Tom Gallagher finds himself in a tight spot. The fate of Dillontown rests on the outcome of one baseball game, winner take all. And it's all because Tom had to open his big mouth. If only he could get Dante Del Gato-the greatest hitter to ever play the game-to coach the team. But crazy ol' Del Gato hasn't spoken to folks in years, not after walking away from the game in disgrace just before his team played in its first World Series. Maybe Tom has one more hope: Cruz de la Cruz, the mysterious boy who just rode into town on horseback claiming to know the secret of hitting. Not to mention the secrets of Del Gato...

 

 

Baseball in the Carolinas: 25 Essays on the States' Hardball Heritage edited by Chris Holaday
It is not known exactly when baseball first made its way down to the Carolinas, but it was being played in North and South Carolina at least as early as the Civil War. By the early years of the twentieth century, the game had become a dominant form of entertainment in both states--and has remained a part of many communities across the Carolinas ever since. This work is a collection of 25 nonfiction stories about baseball as it has been played in the Carolinas from its early days to the present. Contributors to this work include Marshall Adesman writing about his love for the Durham Athletic Park, David Beal remembering the last bus trip the Winston-Salem Warthogs made to play the Durham Bulls in 1997 before the Bulls became a Triple A team, Robert Gaunt writing about the All-American Girls Baseball League and its players in South Carolina, Thomas Perry telling the story of Shoeless Joe Jackson's start in baseball in the textile leagues, Parker Chesson relating the 1947 Albemarle League playoff, and Bijan Bayne chronicling black professional baseball in North Carolina from World War I to the Depression, just to name a few.

Baseball Cop: The Dark Side of America's National Pastime by Eddie Dominguez with Christian Red & Teri Thompson
Baseball Cop is the story of Eddie Dominguez, a decorated member of the Boston Police Department who worked for Major League Baseball first as a Resident Security Agent for the Boston Red Sox and then as an officer for the league's newly founded Department of Investigations (DOI).

In the DOI, Dominguez had a unique view into the dark side of America's pastime, examining scandals involving drug use, age and ID fraud, human trafficking, and cover-ups. Now he is prepared to share the secrets that came across his desk every day for six years.

As MLB disbanded DOI, it tried to control any information its investigators may have collected during their service. But Eddie Dominguez refused to fall in line and sign the Non-Disclosure Agreement given to the other DOI members who were terminated. As a result, every recollection in this book is thus his to freely tell, and can be substantiated by others.

The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship by David Halberstam
Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky were all members of the famed 1940's Boston Red Sox. Their legendary careers led the Red Sox to a pennant championship and ensured the men a place in sports history. David Halberstam, the bestselling author of the baseball classic Summer of '49, has followed the members of the 1949 championship Boston Red Sox team for years, especially Williams, Doerr, DiMaggio, and Pesky. In this extremely moving book, Halberstam reveals how these four teammates became friends, and how that friendship thrived for more than 60 years. The book opens with Pesky and DiMaggio travelling to see the ailing Ted Williams in Florida. It's the last time they will see him. The journey is filled with nostalgia and memories, but seeing Ted is a shock. The most physically dominating of the four friends, Ted now weighs only 130 pounds and is hunched over in a wheelchair. Dom, without even thinking about it, starts to sing opera and old songs like 'Me and My Shadow' to his friend. Filled with stories of their glory days with the Boston Red Sox, memories of legendary plays and players, and the reaction of the remaining three to Ted Williams' recent death, The Teammates offers us a rare glimpse into the lives of these celebrated men-and great insight into the nature of loyalty and friendship.

Willie's Boys: The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, the Last Negro League World Series, and the Making of a Baseball Legend by John Klima
Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays is one of baseball's endearing greats, a tremendously talented and charismatic center fielder who hit 660 career home runs, collected 3,283 hits, knocked in 1,903 runs, won 12 Gold Glove Awards and appeared in 24 All-Star games. But before Mays was the ""Say Hey Kid"", he was just a boy. Willie's Boys is the story of his remarkable 1948 rookie season with the Negro American League's Birmingham Black Barons, who took a risk on a raw but gifted 16-year-old and gave him the experience, confidence, and connections to escape Birmingham's segregation, navigate baseball's institutional racism, and sign with the New York Giants. Willie's Boys offers a character-rich narrative of the apprenticeship Mays had at the hands of a diverse group of savvy veterans who taught him the ways of the game and the world.

Packed with stories and insights, Willie's Boys takes you inside an important part of baseball history and the development of one of the all-time greats ever to play the game.

Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season by Jonathan Eig
April 15, 1947, marked the most important opening day in baseball history. When Jackie Robinson stepped onto the diamond that afternoon at Ebbets Field, he became the first black man to break into major-league baseball in the twentieth century. World War II had just ended. Democracy had triumphed. Now Americans were beginning to press for justice on the home front-and Robinson had a chance to lead the way.He was an unlikely hero. He had little experience in organized baseball. His swing was far from graceful. And he was assigned to play first base, a position he had never tried before that season. But the biggest concern was his temper. Robinson was an angry man who played an aggressive style of ball. In order to succeed he would have to control himself in the face of what promised to be a brutal assault by opponents of integration.

In Opening Day, Jonathan Eig tells the true story behind the national pastime's most sacred myth. Along the way he offers new insights into events of sixty years ago and punctures some familiar legends. Was it true that the St. Louis Cardinals plotted to boycott their first home game against the Brooklyn Dodgers? Was Pee Wee Reese really Robinson's closest ally on the team? Was Dixie Walker his greatest foe? How did Robinson handle the extraordinary stress of being the only black man in baseball and still manage to perform so well on the field? Opening Day is also the story of a team of underdogs that came together against tremendous odds to capture the pennant. 

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
For decades, statistics such as batting average, saves recorded, and pitching won-lost records have been used to measure individual players' and teams' potential and success. But in the past fifteen years, a revolutionary new standard of measurement-- sabermetrics-- has been embraced by front offices in Major League Baseball and among fantasy baseball enthusiasts. But while sabermetrics is recognized as being smarter and more accurate, traditionalists, including journalists, fans, and managers, stubbornly believe that the 'old' way-- a combination of outdated numbers and "gut" instinct-- is still the best way. Baseball, they argue, should be run by people, not by numbers. In this informative and provocative book, the ESPN analyst and senior baseball writer demolishes a century's worth of accepted wisdom, making the definitive case against the long-established view. Armed with concrete examples from different eras of baseball history, logic, a little math, and lively commentary, he shows how the allegiance to these numbers-- dating back to the beginning of the professional game-- is firmly rooted not in accuracy or success, but in baseball's irrational adherence to tradition. While Law gores sacred cows, from clutch performers to RBIs to the infamous save rule, he also demystifies sabermetrics, explaining what these "new" numbers really are and why they're vital. He also considers the game's future, examining how teams are using Data-- from PhDs to sophisticated statistical databases-- to build future rosters; changes that will transform baseball and all of professional sports.

The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract by Bill James
Like the original, The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract is really several books in one. The Game provides a century's worth of American baseball history, told one decade at a time, with energetic facts and figures about How, Where, and by Whom the game was played. In The Players, you'll find listings of the top 100 players at each position in the major leagues, along with James's signature stats-based ratings method called "Win Shares," a way of quantifying individual performance and calculating the offensive and defensive contributions of catchers, pitchers, infielders, and outfielders. And there's more: the Reference section covers Win Shares for each season and each player, and even offers a Win Share team comparison. 

3 Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager by Buzz Bissinger
A Pulitzer Prize-winning author captures baseball's strategic and emotional essences through a point-blank account of one three-game series viewed through the keen eyes of legendary manager Tony La Russa. Drawing on unprecedented access to a manager and his team, Bissinger brings the same revelatory intimacy to major-league baseball that he did to high school football in his classic besteller, Friday Night Lights.

Three Nights in August shows thrillingly that human nature -- not statistics -- can often dictate the outcome of a ballgame. We watch from the dugout as the St. Louis Cardinals battle their archrival Chicago Cubs for first place, and we uncover delicious surprises about the psychology of the clutch, the eccentricities of pitchers, the rise of video, and the complex art of retaliation when a batter is hit by a pitch. Through the lens of these games, Bissinger examines the dramatic changes that have overtaken baseball: from the decline of base stealing to the difficulty of motivating players to the rise of steroid use. More tellingly, he distills from these twenty-seven innings baseball's constants -- its tactical nuances, its emotional pull.

During his twenty-six years of managing, La Russa won more games than any other current manager and ranks sixth all-time. He has been named Manager of the Year a record five times and is considered by many to be the shrewdest mind in the game today. For all his intellectual attainments, he's also an antidote to the number-crunching mentality that has become so modish in baseball. As this book proves, he's built his success on the conviction that ballgames are won not only by thenumbers but also by the hearts and minds of those who play.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
"I wrote this book because I fell in love with a story. The story concerned a small group of undervalued professional baseball players and executives, many of whom had been rejected as unfit for the big leagues, who had turned themselves into one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball. But the idea for the book came well before I had good reason to write it--before I had a story to fall in love with. It began, really, with an innocent question: how did one of the poorest teams in baseball, the Oakland Athletics, win so many games?"

With these words Michael Lewis launches us into the funniest, smartest, and most contrarian book since, well, since Liar's Poker. Moneyball is a quest for something as elusive as the Holy Grail, something that money apparently can't buy: the secret of success in baseball. The logical places to look would be the front offices of major league teams, and the dugouts, perhaps even in the minds of the players themselves. Lewis mines all these possibilities--his intimate and original portraits of big league ballplayers are alone worth the price of admission--but the real jackpot is a cache of numbers--numbers!--collected over the years by a strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts: software engineers, statisticians, Wall Street analysts, lawyers and physics professors.