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Best Baseball Books of 2013 - Part II

From Mark Fidrych to Willie Stargell, 2013's baseball books cover nearly every topic imaginable – and they are all fun to read! Here's the conclusion to SCD's annual Best of the Year list.

By Dan Schlossberg

The following is Part 2 of a two-part series on the best baseball books of 2013. The first 25 selections appeared here.

26. The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych (Thomas Dunne Books, 320 pages, $26.99), by Doug Wilson.
Why would a player with just one good season merit an entire book more than 30 years later? Fidrych came out of nowhere to become the 1976 Detroit ace, even starting the All-Star game for the American League. He also earned his nickname because of his mound mannerisms, which included talking to the ball. As a Tiger, he had the world by the tail, but his situation was soon reversed. Wilson details that stunning rise and fall.


27. Clemente: The True Legacy of an Undying Hero (Celebra, 262 pages, $28.95), by the Clemente family.
Before he lost his life in a plane crash while ferrying earthquake relief supplies to Nicaragua, Roberto Clemente reached 3,000 career hits. Underrated and often unappreciated, especially outside of Pittsburgh and his native Puerto Rico, Clemente left an enormous legacy – beautifully portrayed in this handsome illustrated hardcover packed with commentary from his family.

28. Heart of a Tiger: Growing Up with My Grandfather (ECW Press, 296 pages, $24.95), by Herschel Cobb.
Like the Clemente book, this volume was produced by the family of the Hall of Fame outfielder. Unlike that volume, however, this book centers on Cobb as a grandfather rather than a ballplayer – and shows that the ornery base-stealer had a good heart away from the field of action.


29. How the Red Sox Explain New England (Triumph Books, 240 pages, $14.95), by Jon Chattman and Allie Tarantino.
The six states of New England are so preoccupied with the Red Sox that fans have built miniature versions of Fenway Park in their yards, shared their scorn for all things Yankees and celebrated three world championships in the last 10 years by wearing Sox insignia on their clothes, cars and homes. This creative paperback explains their century-old passion.

30. Trading Bases: a Story About Wall Street, Gambling, and Baseball(Dutton, 369 pages, $27.95), by Joe Peta.
Like a successful day trader, the author applied his Wall Street know-how to forecasting baseball outcomes, both for teams and players. The long-time fan, who discovered his system while recuperating from a serious injury, had a 41 percent success rate in his first year, using such devices as “plays made” rather than errors to determine success.

31. Baseball's Iconic 1-0 Games (The Scarecrow Press, 248 pages, $65), by Warren N. Wilbert.
Think 1-0 games, and several come to mind: The 16-inning Spahn-Marichal marathon, Tom Glavine’s 1995 World Series clincher and Walter Johnson’s penchant for winning (36 times) and losing (26 times) by the thinnest of margins. When Sandy Koufax no-hit the Cubs by a 1-0 score, the winning Dodgers had only a single hit. All those games, and their stats, are captured in this creative and long-overdue hardcover, which includes stats, charts and box scores certain to keep readers entertained.


32. Baseball's Last Great Scout: The Life of Hugh Alexander (University of Nebraska Press, 200 pages, $24.95), by Dan Austin.
During a career that lasted 60-plus years, Alex applied all the ropes: He knew how to find, cajole and coax a prospect to sign. Working in the days before the amateur draft and enormous bonuses, Alexander not only signed more big leaguers than any scout but was more adept at finding them – and then convincing families he had their best interests at heart. This is a great story about baseball’s good old days, when scouts were the unsung heroes of a team’s success.

33. Miracle Men: Hershiser, Gibson, and the Improbable 1988 Dodgers (Triumph, 330 pages, $24.95), by Josh Suchon.
As they did during the heyday of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, the 1988 Dodgers were a punchless team powered by pitching. Orel Hershiser was hot when it counted most, pitching six straight shutouts and dominating the postseason. Clutch home runs, especially from the gimpy Kirk Gibson in the World Series opener, gave the underdog Dodgers a morale boost that morphed into an unlikely world championship.

34. The Mouth That Roared (Triumph, 342 pages, $26.95), by Dallas Green with Alan Maimon, foreword by Jason Stark.
Don’t invite Bobby Valentine and Dallas Green to the same party. The latter skewers the former in an outspoken autobiography that covers his years as a player, coach, manager and executive – plus a personal life that includes an inexplicable personal loss. It’s a great read: Green managed the Phillies to their first world championship, made the Cubs a winner with the Ryne Sandberg swap, then locked horns with both the Tribune Company and George Steinbrenner.

35. Swinging ’73: Baseball’s Wildest Season (Lyons Press, 258 pages, $16.95), by Matthew Silverman.
The season began with Ron Blomberg as the first DH (Designated Hebrew, he said years later) and ended with Willie Mays and his Mets losing to Reggie Jackson’s Oakland A’s. In between, pitchers traded families, Charlie Finley rode his mule and Hank Aaron landed on the cusp of the career home run record. Matt Silverman, a fine baseball historian, recaptures the craziness, which nearly included a five-way tie in the NL East.

36. Summers at Shea: Tom Seaver Loses His Overcoat and Other Mets Stories(Triumph Books, 272 pages, $14.95), by Ira Berkow. This paperback is a collection of Ira Berkow columns that span more than 40 years, from the team’s humble beginnings under Casey Stengel through its two world title seasons. Berkow recalls the troubles of Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, and even includes rivals, from Sandy Koufax to John Rocker.


37. Baseball Team Names: A Worldwide Dictionary 1869-2011 (McFarland, 408 pages, $55), by Richard Worth. This hefty paperback is certain to answer all questions regarding team nicknames for nearly 150 years. There’s even a year-by-year section of major league nicknames that includes nicknames for nicknames (i.e. Nats or Solons for Senators).

38. Pops: the Willie Stargell Story (Triumph, 242 pages, $24.95), by Richard Peterson, foreword by Bill Mazeroski.
Inheriting the leadership mantel after the untimely death of Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell led the “We are Family” Pirates to the 1979 world championship. He also established himself as a feared slugger whose path led to Cooperstown. Long-time Pirates fan Pete Peterson does a fine job detailing his 21-year career.

39. Just Tell Me I Can't: How Jamie Moyer Defied the Radar Gun and Defeated Time (Grand Central Publishing, 288 pages, $27), by Jamie Moyer and Larry Platt.
A lefthander who offered control without velocity, Jamie Moyer won 269 games in 25 seasons and might have continued if not for Tommy John elbow surgery. The oldest man ever to win a game, he was a first-time All-Star at 40 and a role model to teammates, rivals and his eight children.


40. Pinstripe Quotes: the Wit and Wisdom of the New York Yankees (Sports Publishing, 166 pages, $14.95), edited by Henry Clougherty.
This illustrated hardcover presents quotes by or about the Yankees from players, managers and media members. Organized by decade, it can be read backward and still enjoyed. Yogi Berra might be the man quoted most often, but Casey Stengel comes close.

41. Cracking Baseball's Cold Cases: Filling in the Facts about 17 Mystery Major Leaguers (McFarland, 208 pages, $29.95), by Peter Morris.
Virtually all of the mysteries presented in this paperback are so obscure that even the most avid fan has never heard of them. But that’s the point, according to author Peter Morris, a Society for American Baseball Research member whose digging uncovered stories that never surfaced before. It’s worth a look.

42. Core Four: The Heart and Soul of the Yankees Dynasty (Triumph Books, $24.95), by Phil Pepe.
Few players spend their whole careers with one team, but the Yankees had four, discounting the three years Andy Pettitte spent pitching for his hometown Astros. Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Pettitte were the backbone of a Yankee dynasty that reached postseason play like clockwork from 1996-2012. Long-time Yankee beat writer Phil Pepe covered virtually all of their time together.

43. Pages from Baseball’s Past (ACTA, 232 pages, $16.95), by Craig R. Wright.
A female strikeout artist, real-life canine masco, and the fight between Juan Marichal and John Roseboro are just three of the stories Craig Wright includes in this year’s volume. Also in the paperback are four-homer games by Bobby Lowe (the first ever) and Lou Gehrig and a chapter on the little-known pitching career of George Sisler. For readers who want off-beat material, Wright is just right.


44. Drama and Pride in the Gateway City: The 1964 St. Louis Cardinals (University of Nebraska Press, 365 pages, $26.95), edited by John Harry Stahl and Bill Nowlin.
Even without long-time icon Stan Musial, the 1964 Cardinals clawed their way to a pennant, thanks in part to an epic collapse by the Phillies. The mix of veterans and kids worked, as manager Johnny Keane took the Cards to a surprise world title, then took the same job with the Yankees. This paperback, prepared with writing help from the Society for American Baseball Research, paints vivid word pictures of the men and moments that brought St. Louis its first flag in 17 seasons.

45. Baseball's New Frontier: A History of Expansion, 1961-1998 (University of Nebraska Press, 209 pages, $19.95), by Fran Zimniuch.
Thanks, Fran, for including the expansion draft lists for each of baseball’s expansion teams. The author not only discusses the formation and foibles of each team but also the colorful cast of characters, from Bo Belinsky to Jim Bouton. And he tells us that the catalysts for expansion were the shift of the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and Branch Rickey’s proposed Continental League. The compact paperback is a great read.

46. 100 Things Reds Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (Triumph Books, 288 pages, $14.95), by Joel Luckhaupt.
This paperback is part of a team-centric series that also includes the Angels, Brewers, Blue Jays and Tigers this year. Each contains stories and anecdotes guaranteed to provoke laughs that will warm the hearts of frozen fans this winter.

47. Bridging Two Dynasties: The 1947 New York Yankees (University of Nebraska Press, 348 pages, $26.95), edited by Lyle Spatz.
The ’47 Yankees were underdogs whose bark was supposed to be greater than their bite. But they surprised, upsetting the defending champion Red Sox en route to a pennant and world title. This informative paperback is packed with player bios produced by Society for American Baseball Research members, plus accounts of significant moments, notably a 19-game winning streak that was then an American League mark.

48. Jackie & Me: A Very Special Friendship (Sky Pony Press, 32 pages, $16.95), by Tania Grossinger.
This illustrated children’s book recalls the unlikely friendship between Jackie Robinson, an athlete who vacationed at Grossinger’s, and an impressionable young girl who lived there.

49. The Sabermetric Revolution (University of Pennsylvania, 240 pages, $26.50), by Benjamin Bauer and Andrew Zimbalist.
The growing interest in analytics presents the perfect marketplace for this book by two college professors. More teams are following the lead of the Moneyball Oakland A’s, who exceeded expected outcomes by injecting analytics into player moves.

50. Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game(Gotham Books, 256 pages, $27.50), by John Sexton.
Baseball history is filled with events attributed to blessings, curses or miracles – especially by the more religious of the players involved. Many such cases, including the 1951 “Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff,” are captured here, along with a myriad of coincidences. But the author fails to note that when Rich Ashburn foul balls beaned the same fan twice in one at-bat, the victim was the mother of a Philadelphia newspaper sports editor!

51. “Then Bowa Said to Schmidt...”(Triumph, 206 pages, $14.95), by Robert Gordon, foreword by Jimmy Rollins.
The subtitle of this paperback is “the greatest Phillies stories ever told.” They’re all here, from the Whiz Kids to the 23-game losing streak, with the ’64 collapse and the 1980 world championship included. It’s a great baseball history – and essential for Philly fans.


Honorable mentions

  • Historical Dictionary of Baseball (Scarecrow Press, $115) by Lyle Spatz.
  • Ebbets Field (McFarland, 248 pages, $39.95), by John G. Zinn and Paul G. Zinn.
  • Mariano Rivera: Saving Grace (Triumph, $14.95), by The New York Post staff.
  • Babe’s Place: the Lives of Yankee Stadium (Michael P. Wagner, 510 pages, $45), by Michael P. Wagner.
  • Keepers of the Game: When the Baseball Beat Was the Best Job on the Paper (Potomac Books, $29.95), by Dennis D'Agostino.
  • Beltway Boys: Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and the Rise of the Nationals (Triumph, $24.95), by Elliott Smith, foreword by Bob Carpenter.
  • Nailed! The Improbable Rise and Spectacular Fall of Lenny Dykstra (Running Press, $25), by Christopher Frankie.
  • Livin’ the Dream: a Celebration of the World Champion 2013 Boston Red Sox (Triumph, $10.95), by the Boston Globe staff.
  • Great Expectations: the Lost Toronto Blue Jays Season (ECW Press, 220 pages, $19.95), by Shi Davidi and John Lott.
  • A Chance to Win: Boyhood, Baseball, and the Struggle for Redemption in the Inner City (Henry Holt, 275 pages, $26), by Jonathan Schuppe
  • A Wait Out: Faith, Hope, and the Love of the Game (Acappella Books), by Billy Wagner with Patty Rasmussen
  • The Best They Could Be: How the Cleveland Indians Became the Kings of Baseball, 1916-1920 (Potomac Books, $27.50), by Scott H. Longert.
  • Napoleon Lajoie: King of Ballplayers (McFarland, $35), by David L. Fleitz.
  • Great Baseball Stories: Ruminations and Nostalgic Reminiscences on Our National Pastime (Skyhorse Publishing, $14.95), edited by Lee Gutkind & Andrew Blauner.
  • Wrigley Field: The Centennial: 100 Years at the Friendly Confines (Triumph Books, $25.95) by Les Krantz.
  • New York Yankees Home Runs: A Comprehensive Factbook, 1903-2012 (McFarland. $39.95), by Mitchell S. Soivenski.
  • Pennant Hopes Dashed by the Homer in the Gloamin' (McFarland, 272 pp., $35), by Ronald T. Waldo.
  • Philadelphia's Top 50 Baseball Players (University of Nebraska, 273 pp., $24.95), by Rich Westcott.
  • The American League in Transition, 1965-1975: How Competition Thrived When the Yankees Didn't (McFarland, $39.95), by Paul Hensler.
  • The Stars Are Back (Southern Illinois University, $25.99), by Jerome M. Mileur.
  • 50 Greatest Players in St. Louis Cardinals History (Scarecrow, 361 pages, $40.50), by Robert W. Cohen.
  • For Cardinals Fans Only: More than a Half-Century of Memories from Redbird Nation (Triumph, 256 pages, $14.95), by Rich Wolfe.
  • Ballplayers in the Great War: Newspaper Accounts of Major Leaguers in World War I (McFarland, $33), compiled and annotated by Jim Leeke.
  • Smoky Joe Wood (University of Nebraska, 386 pages, $34.95), by Gerald Wood.
  • Speak English! The Rise of Latinos in Baseball (Black Squirrel Books, 187 pages, $19.95), by Rafael Hermoso.
  • Becoming Babe Ruth (Candlewick Press, $16.99), by Matt Tavares.
  • Willie Stargell: A Life in Baseball (McFarland, $29.95), by Frank Garland.
  • Baseball in Denver (Images of Baseball) by Matthew Kasper Repplinger II. Arcadia, $21.99.
  • The Forgotten Marlins: A Tribute to the 1956-1968 Original Miami Marlins (The Scarecrow Press), by Sam Zygner.
  • Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere (Pantheon Books, 321 pages, $26.95), by Lucas Mann.
  • Memories of Winter Ball: Interviews with Players in the Latin American Leagues of the 1950s (McFarland, 272 pages, $39.95), by Lou Hernandez.
  • Nikkei Baseball: Japanese American Players from Immigration and Interment to the Major Leagues (University of Illinois Press, 190 pages, $25) by Samuel O. Regalado.
  • The Expos in Their Prime: The Short-Lived Glory of Montreal's Team, 1977-1984 (McFarland, 254 pages, $29.95), by Alain Usereau.
  • Houston Astros: Deep in the Heart: Blazing a Trail from Expansion to World Series (Bright Sky Press, $39.95), by Bill Brown and Mike Acosta.
  • So Many Seasons in the Sun: A Century and More of Conversations with Baseball's Greatest Clubhouse Managers (St. Johann Press, 191 pages, $24.95), by Lawrence D. Hogan.
  • Baseball: a Casual Fan’s Guide (Xulon Press, $14.99), by John Yates Britt.
  • Black Sox in the Courtroom: The Grand Jury, Criminal Trial and Civil Litigation (McFarland, 240 pages, $29.95), by William F. Lamb.
  • Expanding the Strike Zone: Baseball in the Age of Free Agency (University of Massachusetts, $17.83), by Daniel A. Gilbert.
  • Practicing Sabermetrics (McFarland, 240 pages, $29.95), by Gabriel B. Costa, Michael R. Huber and John T. Saccoman.
  • Ron Shandler’s 2013 Baseball Forecaster (Triumph, 280 pages, $25.95), edited by Ray Murphy and Brent Hershey.
  • Full Count: Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball (Random House Canada, $30), by Jeff Blair.
  • Color Blind: The Forgotten Team that Broke Baseball's Color Line (Atlantic Monthly Press, 345 pages, $25), by Tom Dunkel.
  • Season of Ghosts: The ’86 Mets and the Red Sox (McFarland, 315 pages, $35), by Howard Burman.
  • Baseball Beyond Borders: From Distant Lands to the Major Leagues (Scarecrow Press, 225 pages, $58.50), by Frank P. Jozsa Jr.
  • Baseball GPA (McFarland, 268 pages, $29.95), by David P. Gerard.
  • Steve Blass: a Pirate for Life (Triumph, 259 pages, $14.95), by Steve Blass with Erik Sherman.
  • I Love the Work But I Hate the Business (Blue River Press, $16.95), by Mel Proctor.
  • Before Jackie: the Negro Leagues, Civil Rights, and the American Dream (Paramount, $34.95), by Mary E. Cortey and Mark Harnischfeger.
  • .721: a History of the 1954 Cleveland Indians (McFarland, 204 pages $29.95), by Gary Webster.
  • The Groundbreakers! 1,804 Answers to First-Time Happenings in Major League Baseball (MindStir Media, $16.54), by Richard L. Chilton.
  • Giants Past & Present, 2012 Championship ed. (MVP Books, 144 pages, $25), by Dan Fost.
  • Baseball and the Bottom Line in World War II (McFarland, $39.95), by Jeff Obermeyer.
  • Billy Southworth: A Biography of the Hall of Fame Manager and Ballplayer (McFarland, 220 pages, $29.95), by John C. Skipper.
  • Cleveland Indians Legends (Black Squirrel Books, 87 pages, $29.95), by Russell Schneider, illustrations by Tom Denny.
  • Closer: Major League Players Reveal the Inside Pitch on Saving the Game (Running Press, $15), by Kevin Neary with Leigh A. Tobin.
  • Burleigh Grimes: Baseball's Last Legal Spitballer (McFarland, 244 pages, $29.95), by Joe Niese.
  • Baseball Injuries: Case Studies, by Type, in the Major Leagues (McFarland, 304 pages, $45), by W. Laurence Coker.
  • Classic Bucs: The 50 Greatest Games in Pittsburgh Pirates History (Black Squirrel Books, $18), by David Finoli.
  • Early Latino Ballplayers in the United States (McFarland, 208 ppages $29.95), by Nick C. Wilson
  • Fan Interference: A Collection of Baseball Rants and Reflections (Blue Cubicle Press. $22.95), edited by Mike Faloon and Steve Reynolds.
  • Of Monarchs and Black Barons: Essays on Baseball’s Negro Leagues (McFarland, 286 pages, $35), by James A. Riley, foreword by Monte Irvin.
  • Expanding the Strike Zone: Baseball in the Age of Free Agency (University of Massachusetts Press, $22.95), by Daniel A. Gilbert.
  • Eyes on the Sporting Scene, 1870-1930: Will and June Rankin, New York's Sportswriting Brothers (McFarland, 228 pages, $39.95), by Pamela A. Bakker.
  • We Were the All-American Girls: Interviews with Players of the AAGPBL, 1943-1954 (McFarland, 316 pages, $39.95), by Jim Sargeant.
  • When Baseball Isn't White, Straight and Male: The Media and Difference in the National Pastime (McFarland, $39.95), by Lisa Doris Alexander.
  • The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America's Game (Public Affairs Books, $26.99), by Edward Achorn.
  • Southern League: A True Story of Baseball, Civil Rights, and the Deep South's Most Compelling Pennant Race by Larry Colton. Grand Central Publishing, $28.
  • Spring Training in Bradenton and Sarasota (Arcadia, $21.99), by Raymond Sinibaldi.
  • Spring Training Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to the Grapefruit and Cactus League Ballparks (McFarland, 260 pages, $39.95), by Josh Pahigian.
  • Smoky Joe Wood: The Biography of a Baseball Legend by Gerald C. Wood. University of Nebraska Press, $34.95.
  • The Shutout in Major League Baseball: A History (McFarland, 216 pages, $29.95), by Warren N. Wilbert.
  • Becoming Big League: Seattle, the Pilots, and Stadium Politics (University of Washington Press, 320 pages, $26.95), by Bill Mullins.
  • Base Ball Founders: The Clubs, Players and Cities of the Northeast that Established the Game (McFarland, $49.95), edited by Peter Morris, William J. Ryczek, et al.
  • Baseball's Creation Myth: Adam Ford, Abner Graves and the Cooperstown Story (McFarland, $35), by Brian Martin.
  • Bushers: Ballplayers Drawn from Left Field (McFarland, 132 pages, $17.99), by Ed Attanasio and Eric Gouldsberry.
  • The Major League Baseball Ultimate Book of Records (Fenn/McClelland & Stewart, $29.95).
  • Big Dan Brouthers: Baseball's First Great Slugger (McFarland, $29.95), by Roy Kerr.
  • The Poet: The Life and Los Angeles Times of Jim Murray (Potomac Books, $27.50), by Steven Travers.
  • League Park 1891-1946: Historic Home of Cleveland Baseball (McFarland, 228 pages, $39.95), by Ken Krsolovic & Bryan Fritz.

Long-time SCD columnist Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, N.J., is the baseball editor of Latino Sports, host of Braves Banter and contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. He’s the co-author of the upcoming Al Clark autobiography, Called Out But Safe: A Baseball Umpire’s Journey. Dan’s e-mail is