Monday, February 24, 2014

Baseball and Reading

I was fortunate enough to attend my first baseball game of the season on Saturday when my two oldest boys and I watched the University of Louisville take on Western Michigan.  I couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief and joy when we took our seats.  There's something about a game - seeing the diamond and the dugouts filled with players, watching a pitcher go into his motion, and hearing the sound of a ball either hit the catcher's mitt or the batter's bat - that leads me into a strange kind of contemplative space.  Perhaps there's something faintly sacrilegious about saying that a baseball game becomes prayer for me, but I don't really care.  At some point, I'll write a post on here about baseball as prayer.  Not today, though.

I want today to do a bit of crowd-sourcing.  The second-best thing to watching baseball is reading about baseball, and I'd like to hear about the best baseball-related books, essays, and/or poems you've ever read.  Any genre is great.  As a theologian, I'm particularly interested in pieces of writing where ties can be made somehow (perhaps only tangentially) between baseball, theology, and/or spirituality, though this isn't a prerequisite for any suggestion.  My goal is to create a bibliography on this blog of some of the best baseball writing out there, complete with annotations from myself and others.

Send me a note (my email is in the "About" section of the blog), write a comment below, or tweet me your suggestions along with a sentence or two about your choice.


  1. The Brothers K by David James Duncan. Shoeless Joe by...

  2. The Last Boy - MIckey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood by Jane Leavy: The definitive biography of Mickey Mantle and I have read many of them.

    A Great and Glorious Game - The Baseball Writings of A. Bartlett Giamatti: Beautiful essays about a beautiful game.

    Baseball - A History of America's Favorite Game by George Vecsey: A short history, wonderfully written.

    The Physics of Baseball by Robert K. Adair: Everything you want to know about why a curve curves, and home runs fly out of ballparks on a hot August night.

    Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu - John Updike on Ted Williams: By John Updike. A classic. Nothing more need be said.

    Mickey and Willie - Mantle & Mays, the Parallel Lives of Baseball's Golden Age by Allen Barra: A recent book well worth you time. Appendix A - Mickey vs. Willie-Who Was the Best is worth the price of the book

    Men at Work - The Craft of Baseball by George Will: A craftsman of a writer provides insight and depth on a game he loves.

    And last, but certainly not least -- Anything by Tom Boswell. I have read and enjoyed (and have autographed copies of), How Life Imitates the World Series, Why Time Begins on Opening Day, The Heart of the Order, Cracking the Show, and Gameday (not just baseball). The introduction to The Heart of the Order ("There is no substitute for excellence, not even success...") is among my favorite pieces of writing of any kind.

    Thanks for the chance to share the pleasure I have gained from reading about this great American game.

    Ray Glennon

  3. I haven't read it myself, but I've heard nearly-unanimous rave reviews of The Art of Fielding.



  4. David Maraniss' biography of Roberto Clemente is wonderful, and might tie some of your themes together.