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Baseball Essays

Essays on Baseball: Players, Teams, Coaches and the Spirit of the Game
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Moneyball
Moneyball
by Michael Lewis
Paperback from W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 0393338398

"You need know absolutely nothing about baseball to appreciate the wit, snap, economy . . . and incisiveness of [Moneyball]. Lewis has hit another one out of the park." --Janet Maslin, New York Times
Billy Beane, the Oakland A's general manager, is leading a revolution. Reinventing his team on a budget, he needs to outsmart the richer teams. He signs undervalued players whom the scouts consider flawed but who have a knack for getting on base, scoring runs, and winning games. Moneyball is a quest for the secret of success in baseball and a tale of the search for new baseball knowledge--insights that will give the little guy who is willing to discard old wisdom the edge over big money.

Billy Beane, general manager of MLB's Oakland A's and protagonist of Michael Lewis's Moneyball, had a problem: how to win in the Major Leagues with a budget that's smaller than that of nearly every other team. Conventional wisdom long held that big name, highly athletic hitters and young pitchers with rocket arms were the ticket to success. But Beane and his staff, buoyed by massive amounts of carefully interpreted statistical data, believed that wins could be had by more affordable methods such as hitters with high on-base percentage and pitchers who get lots of ground outs. Given this information and a tight budget, Beane defied tradition and his own scouting department to build winning teams of young affordable players and inexpensive castoff veterans.

Lewis was in the room with the A's top management as they spent the summer of 2002 adding and subtracting players and he provides outstanding play-by-play. In the June player draft, Beane acquired nearly every prospect he coveted (few of whom were coveted by other teams) and at the July trading deadline he engaged in a tense battle of nerves to acquire a lefty reliever. Besides being one of the most insider accounts ever written about baseball, Moneyball is populated with fascinating characters. We meet Jeremy Brown, an overweight college catcher who most teams project to be a 15th round draft pick (Beane takes him in the first). Sidearm pitcher Chad Bradford is plucked from the White Sox triple-A club to be a key set-up man and catcher Scott Hatteberg is rebuilt as a first baseman. But the most interesting character is Beane himself. A speedy athletic can't-miss prospect who somehow missed, Beane reinvents himself as a front-office guru, relying on players completely unlike, say, Billy Beane. Lewis, one of the top nonfiction writers of his era (Liar's Poker, The New New Thing), offers highly accessible explanations of baseball stats and his roadmap of Beane's economic approach makes Moneyball an appealing reading experience for business people and sports fans alike. --John Moe

 
Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back
Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back
by Josh Hamilton
Kindle Edition from FaithWords
Media Published: 2008-
 

Josh Hamilton was the first player chosen in the first round of the 1999 baseball draft. He was destined to be one of those rare "high-character " superstars. But in 2001, working his way from the minors to the majors, all of the plans for Josh went off the rails in a moment of weakness. What followed was a 4-year nightmare of drugs and alcohol, estrangement from friends and family, and his eventual suspension from baseball.
BEYOND BELIEF details the events that led up to the derailment. Josh explains how a young man destined for fame and wealth could allow his life to be taken over by drugs and alcohol. But it is also the memoir of a spiritual journey that breaks through pain and heartbreak and leads to the rebirth of his major-league career.
Josh Hamilton makes no excuses and places no blame on anyone other than himself. He takes responsibility for his poor decisions and believes his story can help millions who battle the same demons. "I have been given a platform to tell my story" he says. "I pray every night I am a good messenger."

Josh Hamilton was the first player chosen in the first round of the 1999 baseball draft. He was destined to be one of those rare "high-character " superstars. But in 2001, working his way from the minors to the majors, all of the plans for Josh went off the rails in a moment of weakness. What followed was a 4-year nightmare of drugs and alcohol, estrangement from friends and family, and his eventual suspension from baseball.
BEYOND BELIEF details the events that led up to the derailment. Josh explains how a young man destined for fame and wealth could allow his life to be taken over by drugs and alcohol. But it is also the memoir of a spiritual journey that breaks through pain and heartbreak and leads to the rebirth of his major-league career.
Josh Hamilton makes no excuses and places no blame on anyone other than himself. He takes responsibility for his poor decisions and believes his story can help millions who battle the same demons. "I have been given a platform to tell my story" he says. "I pray every night I am a good messenger."

 
The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance
The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance
by H. A. Dorfman, Karl Kuehl
Paperback from Diamond Communications
ISBN: 0912083786

Without a doubt the classic guide to mental performance enhancement for baseball. Here in the third edition, authors H.A. Dorfman and Karl Kuehl present their practical and proven strategy for developing the mental skills needed to achieve peak performance at every level of the game. The theory and applications are illustrated by anecdotes and insights from major and minor league players, who at some point discovered the importance of mastering the inner game in order to play baseball as it should be played. Intended for players, managers, coaches, agents, and administrators as well as fans who want a more in-depth look at the makeup of the complete baseball player.

 
Heads-Up Baseball : Playing the Game One Pitch at a Time
Heads-Up Baseball : Playing the Game One Pitch at a Time
by Tom Hanson, Ken Ravizza
Paperback from McGraw-Hill
ISBN: 1570280215

"This book provides practical strategies for developing the mental skills which help speed you to your full potential."---Dave Winfield

What does it mean to play heads-up baseball? A heads-up player has confidence in his ability, keeps control in pressure situations, and focuses on one pitch at a time. His mental skills enable him to play consistently at or near his best despite the adversity baseball presents each day.

"My ability to fully focus on what I had to do on a daily basis was what made me the successful player I was. Sure I had some natural ability, but that only gets you so far. I think I learned how to focus; it wasn't something that I was necessarily born with." -- Hank Aaron

"Developing and refining my mental game has played a critical role in my success in baseball. For years players have had to develop these skills on their own. This book provides practical strategies for developing the mental skills that will help speed you toward your full potential." -- Dave Winfield

 
Ball Four
Ball Four
by Jim Bouton
Paperback from Wiley
ISBN: 0020306652

Twentieth-anniversary edition of a baseball classic, with a new epilogue by Jim Bouton.
When first published in 1970, Ball Four stunned the sports world. The commissioner, executives, and players were shocked. Sportswriters called author Jim Bouton a traitor and "social leper." Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn tried to force him to declare the book untrue. Fans, however, loved the book. And serious critics called it an important social document. Today, Jim Bouton is still not invited to Oldtimer's Days at Yankee Stadium. But his landmark book is still being read by people who don'tordinarily follow baseball.

As a player, former hurler Jim Bouton did nothing half-way; he threw so hard he'd lose his cap on almost every pitch. In the early '70s, he tossed off one of the funniest, most revealing, insider's takes on baseball life in Ball Four, his diary of the season he tried to pitch his way back from oblivion on the strength of a knuckler. The real curve, though, is Bouton's honesty. He carves humans out of heroes, and shines a light into the game's corners. A quarter century later, Bouton's unique baseball voice can still bring the heat.

 
The Boys of Summer
The Boys of Summer
by Roger Kahn
Paperback from Harpercollins
ISBN: 0060914165

This is a book about some young men who learned to play baseball during the 1930s and 1940s in such places as Reading, Pennsylvania; Anderson, Indiana; Plainfield, New Jersey; Woonsocket, Rhode Island; and then went on to play for one of the most exciting professional teams that the major leagues ever fielded--the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s--the team that broke the color barrier with Jackie Robinson and set many other records besides.

It is also a book by and about a once-young sportswriter for the Herald Tribune who grew up in the 1930s and 1940s within shouting distance of Ebbets Field, was nurtured on Joyce and Shakespeare and occasionally escaped to see his bumbling heroes play, and then had the miraculous good fortune in the 1950s to cover the Dodger team for the Tribune.

Finally, this is a book about what's happened since to Jackie Robinson, Carl Erskine, Preacher Roe, Pee Wee Reese, Billy Cox, Roy Campanella, Carl Furillo and the others, no longer boys but men in their middle years with their glories behind them. For some, they have been happy years; to others, fate has not been kind. In short, it is a book about America and how it has progressed from the 1930s to the 1970s, about fathers and sons, prejudice and courage, triumph and disaster. Told with warmth, humor, wit, candor and love, The Boys of Summer is delightful and exhilarating.

"At a point in life when one is through with boyhood, but has not yet discovered how to be a man, it was my fortune to travel with the most marvelously appealing of teams." Sentimental because it holds such promise, and bittersweet because that promise is past, the first sentence of this masterpiece of sporting literature, first published in the early '70s, sets its tone. What follows only gets better, deeper, more sentimental, and more bittersweet. The team, of course, is the mid-20th-century Brooklyn Dodgers, the team of Robinson and Snyder and Hodges and Reese, a team of great triumph and historical import composed of men whose fragile lives were filled with dignity and pathos. Roger Kahn, who covered that team for the New York Herald Tribune, makes understandable humans of his heroes as he chronicles the dreams and exploits of their young lives, beautifully intertwining them with his own, then recounts how so many of those sweet dreams curdled as the body of these once shining stars grew rusty with age and battered by experience. It is the rare sports book that cannot be contained by the limitations of its genre; it is equal parts journalism, memoir, social history, and poetry.

 
The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran
The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran
by Dirk Hayhurst
Paperback from Citadel Press
ISBN: 0806531436
"After many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years spent in the bullpen, I can verify that this is a true picture of baseball."--Tim McCarver "There are great truths within, of the kind usually unspoken. And as he expresses them, Dirk Hayhurst describes himself as 'a real person who moonlights as a baseball player.' In much the same manner, while The Bullpen Gospels chronicles how all of us face the impact when we learn reality is both far meaner and far richer than our dreams--it also moonlights as one of the best baseball books ever written."--Keith Olbermann "A bit of Jim Bouton, a bit of Jim Brosnan, a bit of Pat Jordan, a bit of crash Davis, and a whole lot of Dirk Hayhurst. Often hilarious, sometimes poignant. This is a really enjoyable baseball read."--Bob Costas "Fascinating. . .a perspective that fans rarely see."--Trevor Hoffman, pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers "The Bullpen Gospels is a rollicking good bus ride of a book. Hayhurst illuminates a baseball life not only with wit and humor, but also with thought-provoking introspection."--Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated "Dirk Hayhurst has written a fascinating, funny and honest account on life in the minor leagues. I loved it. Writers can't play baseball, but in this case, a player sure can write."--Tim Kurkjian, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine, analyst/reporter ESPN television "Bull Durham meets Ball Four in Dirk Hayhurst's hilarious and moving account of life in baseball's glamour-free bush leagues."--Rob Neyer, ESPN.com 
"If Holden Caulfield could dial up his fastball to 90 mph, he might have written this funny, touching memoir about a ballplayer at a career--and life--crossroads. He might have called it 'Pitcher in the Rye.' Instead, he left it to Dirk Hayhurst, the only writer in the business who can make you laugh, make you cry and strike out Ryan Howard."--King Kaufman, Salon "The Bullpen Gospels is a funny bone-tickling, tear duct-stimulating, feel-good story that will leave die-hard baseball fans--and die-hard human beings, for that matter--well, feeling good."--Bob Mitchell, author of Once Upon a Fastball
 
A Talk in the Park: Nine Decades of Baseball Tales from the Broadcast Booth
A Talk in the Park: Nine Decades of Baseball Tales from the Broadcast Booth
by Curt Smith
Hardcover from Potomac Books Inc.
ISBN: 1597976709

Since radio's debut in the 1920s and television's in the '30s, the baseball announcer has become entertainer, observer, and extended member of the family. In A Talk in the Park: Nine Decades of Baseball Tales from the Broadcast Booth, many of the pastime's most popular and famous announcers--the Voices--tell their favorite stories in their own distinctive words. It is riveting oral history.
Herein is the largest total of active and retired broadcasters featured in any sports book: 116. Its radio and TV tales include every major-league team and such networks as ESPN, Fox, TBS, and the new MLB channel, and capture the Voices commenting on ballparks, managers, the characters of the game, umpires, special teams, interleague play, improvements to the game--and on one another, including the beloved Ernie Harwell, who died in 2010 and to whom the book is dedicated.
Here are Bob Wolff airing the longest-ever wild pitch Howie Rose using the 1969 Mets to pass a high school exam, and Charley Steiner telling why George Steinbrenner "hired" Jason Giambi. Denny Matthews recalls George Scott's faux uniform number 6-4-3. Ken Harrelson defends his one-handed catch: "With bad hands like mine, one hand was better than two." Eduardo Ortega announces for his mother, who is deaf. Pat Hughes remembers when Harry Caray called a game with a tea bag dangling from his ear. Voices hail Lou Piniella: dressed, undressed, volatile, and lovable.
Columnist Christine Brennan says of author Curt Smith: "No one knows baseball broadcasters as well as he does." In particular, A Talk in the Park addresses trends of the past two decades--the rise of Hispanic and other minority announcers, interleague play, ex-jocks' warp-speed climb, whiz-bang technology, 24/7 coverage, and the evolution of broadcasting, from radio to network television to cable.
Told by baseball's leading broadcast historian, endorsed by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the National Radio Hall of Fame, and starring announcers who reach millions, A Talk in the Park brilliantly relates what baseball was, is, and is likely to become.
 
The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told: Thirty Unforgettable Tales from the Diamond
The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told: Thirty Unforgettable Tales from the Diamond

Paperback from Lyons Press
ISBN: 1592280838
At a 1931 barnstorming exhibition game in Tennessee, a seventeen-year-old pitcher for the Chattanooga Lookouts struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back to back. Her name was Jackie Mitchell--"organized baseball's first girl pitcher." On September 9, 1965, Sandy Koufax made baseball history by pitching his fourth perfect game. In July 1970, a stripper rushed onto the field at Riverfront Stadium to kiss Johnny Bench, temporarily disrupting a game attended by President Nixon and his family. These are just some of the great, quirky, and comic moments in the annals of baseball recorded in THE GREATEST BASEBALL STORIES EVER TOLD. Here also are profiles of such legendary figures as Joe DiMaggio, Pete Rose, and Yogi Berra, essays that explore the complexities and pleasures of the game, even an excerpt from the movie Bull Durham. This is the perfect book for anyone who has ever played so much as a game of catch.
Contributors include:
John Updike
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Abbott & Costello
Ring Lardner
Bill Barich
Zane Grey
David James Duncan
Al Stump
Pete Hamill
P.G. Wodehouse
Damon Runyan
Roy Blount, Jr.
Richard Ben Cramer
Gay Talese
A. Bartlett Giamatti
and many more

 

 
 
 
 
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