The Victory Season
by Robert Weintraub (Little, Brown, $28)
“Major League Baseball could not have asked for a more exciting year than 1946,” said Matthew Price in Newsday. Sportswriter and “spirited stylist” Robert Weintraub re-creates the season that began with the postwar return of the league’s biggest stars and ended when the St. Louis Cardinals’ Enos Slaughter made a famed “mad dash” on a decisive World Series hit. Weintraub’s book “sometimes reads more like a miscellany of japes than a steady narrative,” but it’s “supremely entertaining.”
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by Tom Dunkel (Grove/Atlantic, $25)
Here’s a baseball tale “as fantastic as it is true,” said Kate Tuttle in The Boston Globe. Twelve years before Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, a Bismarck, N.D., car dealer integrated Great Plains baseball by recruiting stars of the Negro Leagues to a team that would win a national semi-pro title. As future major leaguers Satchel Paige and Quincy Trouppe put their skills to a new test, author Tom Dunkel delivers warm character sketches, plus “enough detail to satisfy the most rabid fan.”
by Doug Wilson (Thomas Dunne, $27)
“The Bird is the funniest, most touching baseball book to come my way in a long time,” said Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post. It “pays handsome tribute” to Mark Fidrych, a pitcher who in 1976 captivated the nation during his one full season in the bigs. Nicknamed after Big Bird, the eccentric Fidrych smoothed the mound with his hands, talked to the ball in his hand, and dominated opposing hitters before arm woes shut him down. Doug Wilson’s “perfect portrait” rekindles the magic.
The Baseball Trust
by Stuart Banner (Oxford, $30)
America’s greatest legal minds seem to suffer brain lock when asked to engage with America’s national pastime, said Adam Liptak in The New York Times. But in this “splendid” book about the unique protections that major league owners have won in court, law professor Stuart Banner offers better explanations too. The owners excel at lobbying, and they’ve been lucky. Sometimes a series of reasonable legal decisions, Banner writes, results in “an outcome that makes no sense at all.”
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