Below, the favorite baseball books of the chairman of the Boston Red Sox, an award-winning TV producer whose credits include That ’70s Show, The Cosby Show, and Roseanne.
Take Time for Paradise by A. Bartlett Giamatti (out of print). The late commissioner may be baseball’s most poetic author, and this book eloquently conveys why the sport is our greatest game. Along the way, Giamatti talks about the significance of such totems as home plate: “Everyone wants to arrive at the same place, which is where they start.”
Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris (Bison, $15). A classic film but an even better novel. The story chronicles the raucous shenanigans of a fictional group of New York ballplayers. The only time I have ever cried more at an ending was when I watched Red Sox lefty Jon Lester, a cancer survivor, complete his 2008 no-hitter.
Game Time by Roger Angell (Harvest, $15). Any list of this kind should include the writings of Angell, the finest sportswriter of our era. This compilation happens to include his 2001 prediction that Fenway Park would be torn down as soon as the “new management” found a place to put “a nice, modern $500 million park with luxury suites and limo parking.” Angell is a great writer, but I didn’t claim he is a prophet!
In the Best Interests of Baseball by Andrew Zimbalist (Wiley, $15). Professor Zimbalist talks about sports economics in a way that even non–econ majors can grasp. This book analyzes the almost two-decade-long tenure of the game’s current top executive, Bud Selig. At its conclusion, you may understand why I believe Selig is the greatest commissioner in baseball’s history.
The Year I Owned the Yankees by Sparky Lyle (out of print). Lyle imagines buying the Yankees from George Steinbrenner in the most hilarious baseball book I have ever read. Early on, while cleaning out the Boss’ desk, the ex-pitcher finds a branding iron with the Yankee logo on top. “I wondered,” he says, “if that was the reason why players like Mickey Rivers and Judge Lewis never went into the shower after a game.”
The Teammates by David Halberstam (Hyperion, $14). Knowing that Ted Williams is dying, three ex-teammates make a pilgrimage to see Teddy Ballgame one last time. This book isn’t so much about legendary ballplayers as about the dynamics of six-decade-old male friendships. Finishing it, I missed not only Williams but Halberstam.