Paul Dickson, who is quickly becoming one of the premier sports biographers in the business, selected his top five baseball books in an article today in the Wall Street Journal (April 22-23, 2017, p. c10). The article is entitled “Five Best: A Personal Choice.”
Dickson, who most recently penned a biography on Leo Durocher, also wrote a classic biography on Bill Veeck. I read and posted blogs on both of these books, and you can read them here.
Durocher: (3/19/2017) http://www.15minutebusinessbooks.com/blog/2017/03/19/dicksons-newest-characterizes-leo-the-lip/
These are Dickson’s top five selections in the WSJ article:
- Ball Four by Jim Bouton (1970)
- Only the Ball Was White by Robert Peterson (1970)
- Veeck as in Wreck by Bill Veeck (1962)
- The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams (1970)
- Moneyball by Michael Lewis (2003)
I have no problems with any of these selections. However, if I were making a list, I would have at the very top, the amazing work by George F. Will, entitled Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball (Macmillan, 1990). That book has convinced many skeptics and critics who think that professional athletes just play that they actually work. No, this book proves they work. And, they work harder and longer at their craft than the vast majority of employees in most professions, including examining multitudes of complex variables in making decisions. Baseball players, in this book, are not the “boys of summer.” They are truly men at work. To me, for baseball fans who read books, it is an essential selection.
Today, I saw that he published his list of the top 50 sports books, in an article entitled “By My Reading…” (March 15, 2015, p. 14C) Click the link here and you will see an interactive page that explains why he believes that a book belongs on the list, and what it contributes.
Cowlishaw is a veteran sports reporter in the DFW area. He also appears on the ESPN national television program “Around the Horn.” He joined the Dallas Morning News in 1989. He has been a beat writer for the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, and Dallas Stars. Today, he focuses his work on daily columns.
It was fun to look at Cowlishaw’s list of books. If I were making such a list, I would include Men at Work by George Will (Easton Press, 1990). That book explained the game day business of baseball better than anything I have ever seen. It convinced me, as well as others, that baseball is not “boys at play.”
I was amazed how many of the books I had read, and even saved. My favorites off his list were:
- Ball Four by Jim Bouton (Dell, 1971)
- Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn (Harper and Row, 1972)
- Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissinger (De Capo Press, 2000)
- Eight Men Out by Eliot Asinof (Holt, 2000)
- Moneyball by Michael Lewis (W.W. Norton, 2004)
- Cosell by Howard Cosell (Playboy Press, 1973)
- Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer (World Press, 1968)
Cowlishaw did a good job of selecting and explaining why these books were prominent in a very concise way.
After reading it, I wanted to go out to the garage and see if I can pull out some of these. Some would be yellowed, tattered, and torn.
Of course, I would have to find them first.
We rarely get any comments on our blog posts. But, I am interested to see if you would add or subtract any sports books from his list after you look it over.