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July 5, 2006

News & Opinion: What is it about Baseball Books?

By: Jack @ 8:38 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

When a baseball book is done right, it is unbelievably good. I mean like Boys of Summer and pretty much anything Roger Angell wrote. Nine Innings by Dan Okrent. I could go on but...
When we created a marketing piece this year I was asked to display the ISBN of my favorite all-time book. Now this is the best book of all time! Dickens, Hemingway, Hiaasen. Who would get the call? I did spend serious thinking about this because the marketing piece was going to authors and publishers so the book had to be pretty cool or I would look goofy. My choice was another baseball book. Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. A portion of the book was made into Field of Dreams. Baseball books can capture a smell, a feeling, a mood extremely well and both Shoeless Joe and Echoing Green do that.
What has brought this rambling on? Over the weekend I finally finished another baseball book. The book is called The Echoing Green by Joshua Prager sad to say the book is being published in September of this year but you can pre order it here.
The book is the story of the shot heard around the world. For you youngsters or non baseball fans, that is the home run that decided the National League Pennant in 1951. It was the final inning of a three game playoff to decide who would go to the World Series. It is also the story of two baseball players Ralph Branca and Bobby Thomson. The hitter and the pitcher of the shot. But as in most great baseball books, this is a book about an era, about a team and about a world that seems more in control. An aside, I actually got to see Bobby Thomson play for the Milwaukee Braves before a young player came up and moved him. That player was Henry Aaron. Yeah, Im that old.
The book came from a Wall Street Journal article in 2001 where the author reveals that the Giants were stealing the catchers signs to the pitcher in the Polo Grounds with a telescope and they had been doing that for a chunk of the year of 1951.
Why am I writing about this on a business book blog? I have no idea but it is kind of like why does a dog licks its butt, because it can because I can, I guess is the answer.
Seriously this is a great read that you will remember for a long time.