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Sep 27

Baseball: America's National Pastime

Posted on September 27, 2021 at 10:15 AM by Maggie Witte

During spring, summer and into fall, people across the country come together to attend, watch, listen, or play America’s National Pastime: baseball. The sport has a long history in the United States, being played since before the Civil War. It’s entertained millions of people throughout the years and provided comfort during challenging times. It has helped shape our nation, influencing and reflecting social and cultural changes.

As we get to the end of the regular season, we’d like to celebrate the sport with a list of books centered around baseball. We have biographies of major players and coaches; histories of the sport and its influences; stories from broadcasters; and mystery, romance, and other novels with baseball featured.

Adult Nonfiction

DB 39231 When women played baseball by Susan E. Johnson

Author Johnson was a fourteen-year-old fan when the All-American Girls Baseball League died in 1954 after a twelve-year span. To recreate the spirit of the league that fascinated her, Johnson interviews twenty-six of the women who played for the 1950 Rockford Peaches and Fort Wayne Daisies. Their recollections of the 1950 series are supplemented by newspaper accounts of each of the seven games.

DB 52470 The oldest rookie: big league dreams from a small-town guy by Jim Morris

The story of Jim Morris, who achieved his dream of playing baseball at thirty-five. Tells how an injury cost him a shot at professional baseball as a teen. Discusses his family and how becoming a coach in Texas led to a bet that changed his life. 2001.

DB 62447 Clemente: the passion and grace of baseball’s last hero by David Maraniss

Biography of the Pittsburgh Pirates' right fielder Roberto Clemente (1934-1972), one of the major league's first Latino players. Details Clemente's upbringing in Puerto Rico, his arrival to the majors, and the prejudice he endured. Discusses his charitable works and his death on a disaster relief flight. Strong language. Bestseller. 2006.

DB 91732 Why baseball matters by Susan Jacoby

An historian and fan discusses the sport of baseball and examines whether it is in a state of decline. She puts the sport into the context of the modern era of digital distractions, citing its aging fanbase and lower attendance at games and TV viewership. 2018.

DB 93080 The voices of baseball: the game’s greatest broadcasters reflect on America’s pastime by Kirk McKnight

A sportswriter talks with the radio and TV broadcasters who help bring baseball to life. Includes a chapter on each major league ballpark, providing background on the teams and oral histories from famous local broadcasters who detail one noteworthy game. 2015.

DB 58600 I never had it made: an autobiography of Jackie Robinson by Jackie Robinson

Baseball legend's account of his triumphs and tragedies on the road to becoming the first African American to play major league baseball. Descended from slaves and sharecroppers, Robinson recalls struggling to overcome racial barriers before and after his 1947 debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Introduction by Hank Aaron. 1995.

DB 61772 Luckiest man: the life and death of Lou Gehrig by Jonathan Eig

Reporter uses archives, interviews, and letters to depict the man he considers the New York Yankee's "greatest" first baseman, Lou Gehrig (1903-1941). Covers Gehrig's upbringing as the only child of German immigrants, his fallout with teammate Babe Ruth, and his optimism while facing death from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. 2005.

DB 90850 Beep: inside the unseen world of baseball for the blind by David Wanczyk

A sportswriter examines beep baseball, a version of the sport played by the blind, in which the rules have been tweaked and the equipment made audible. The author travels the world to follow the sport, interviewing players and coaches while describing the action during the Beep Baseball World Series. Some strong language. 2018.

Adult Fiction

DB 74690 Calico Joe by John Grisham

In 1973 Chicago Cubs record-breaking rookie Joe Castle from Calico Rock, Arkansas, steps up to bat against New York Mets pitcher Warren Tracey--and the outcome changes both their lives. Decades later Warren is dying, and his son Paul tries to bring the two ballplayers back together. Bestseller. 2012.

DB 98762 The cactus league by Emily Nemens

Jason Goodyear, star outfielder for the Los Angeles Lions, is with his team in the hot Arizona desert for their annual spring training. Handsome, famous, and talented, Goodyear is nonetheless coming apart at the seams, and everyone around him wants to know his secrets. Strong language and some descriptions of sex. 2020.

DB 86722 The setup man by T. T. Monday

Johnny Adcock is an aging Major League pitcher with the perfect retirement plan--he moonlights as a PI. A case involving teammate Frankie Herrera's wife quickly turns into the most dangerous of Adcock's second career when Frankie is killed in a car accident, leaving far too many questions unanswered. Strong language, explicit descriptions of sex, and some violence. Commercial audiobook. 2014.

DB 87759 One perfect lie by Lisa Scottoline

When Chris Brennan applies for a job as a teacher and varsity baseball coach at a small town high school in Pennsylvania, he looks perfect on paper. But his name is an alias, his résumé is false, and he doesn't plan to be there long. Some violence and some strong language. Commercial audiobook. 2017.

Children’s and Young Adult Nonfiction

DB 96687 Baseball history for kids: America at bat from 1900 to today with 19 activities by Richard Panchyk

Investigates the history of the sport and recounts stories about former major league players. Includes activities such as calculating the Earned Run Average (ERA) and throwing a palmball. For grades 5-8 and older readers. 2016.

DB 75021 Lineup for yesterday by Ogden Nash

Collection of Ogden Nash's alphabetical poems of baseball legends, such as Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. Includes player stats and biographical information. Originally published in 1949 in Sport magazine. For grades 3-6 and older readers. 2011.

DB 73057 Baseball heroes by Glenn Stout

Biographical sketches of baseball pioneers who fought prejudice to play: Hank Greenberg, one of the first Jewish players; Jackie Robinson, the first African American in the major leagues; Fernando Valenzuela, a Latino pitcher from Mexico; and Ila Borders, the first woman on a men's college team. For grades 3-6. 2010.

DB 102885 Singled out: the true story of Glenn Burke by Andrew Maraniss

The author profiles Glenn Burke, the inventor of the high five and the first openly gay MLB player: from his childhood growing up in Oakland, his journey to the MLB and the World Series, and the joy in discovering who he really was. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2021.

DB 58852 Baseball’s boneheads, bad boys, and just plain crazy guys by George Sullivan

Profiles professional baseball players known for their quirky superstitions, pranks, and outrageous or illegal play. For grades 6-9. 2003.

Children’s and Young Adult Fiction

DB 73065 Center Field by Robert Lipsyte

High school junior Mike Semak lives for baseball, but he is distracted by an ankle injury, two girls, a talented new player who wants Mike's center-field position, problems at home, and a sneaking suspicion that something sinister is happening at school. For grades 6-9. 2010.

DB 93436 Swing by Kwame Alexander

A novel in verse. Best friends Noah and Walt help each other with everything. When Noah finds old love letters, Walt hatches a plan to help him woo a girl. But the letters change everything. Some violence. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2018.

DB101320 Get a grip, Vivy Cohen! by Sarah Kapit

Eleven-year-old knuckleball pitcher Vivy Cohen, who has autism, becomes pen pals with her favorite Major League Baseball player after writing a letter to him as an assignment for her social skills class. Commercial audiobook. For grades 4-7. 2020.

DB 97081 Strike zone by Mike Lupica

Twelve-year-old Nick Garcia juggles many dreams over the summer: he dreams of winning MVP in his baseball league, of finding a cure for his sister, of meeting his hero, Yankee pitcher Michael Arroyo, and of no longer living in fear of ICE agents. Commercial audiobook. For grades 5-8. 2019.

DB 83449 Soar by Joan Bauer

When his adoptive father accepts a temporary job in Hillcrest, Ohio, twelve-year-old Jeremiah is determined to coach his middle school's baseball team. As a heart transplant recipient, he can't play, but Jeremiah doesn't let that slow him down in pursuing his coaching dreams. Commercial audiobook. For grades 5-8. 2016.

DB 87564 Ballpark mysteries, books 1-5 by David A. Kelly

Five mysteries featuring cousins Mike Walsh and Kate Hopkins that take place in ballparks all over the country. Includes The Fenway Foul-up, The Pinstripe Ghost, The L. A. Dodger, The Astro Outlaw, and The All-Star Joker. Commercial audiobook. For grades 2-4. 2012.