Baseball is the most mentally driven of all sports. Yet fans rarely know what happens off the field. Each book on this list has changed the game of baseball.
Influential Baseball Book #1: Ball Four by Jim Bouton (1970)
Ball Four is a book that opened the door to the internal affairs of baseball players. Before this book, baseball players kept a tight lid on what went on behind the scenes. Bouton, a former player, broke this code in this tell-all book. He revealed what baseball life was like in the 1960s, from womanizing to drug abuse. As a result, MLB players’ private lives became much more open to the world.
Influential Baseball Book #2: Moneyball by Michael Lewis (2003)
Many people may already know this book from the 2011 movie that shares its name. The book explains the story of how the Oakland Athletics, a small market team, managed to thrive while playing against teams with almost unlimited resources. Moneyball’s influence is in how it changed front offices. The book and the A’s success allowed for sabermetrics, a statistical analysis in baseball, to come to prominence. Today, almost every team, even big market teams, use analytics to some degree. Before, the stats being used were not very in-depth. Lewis’s book played a huge role in its acceptance.
Influential Baseball Book #3: Juiced by Jose Canseco (2005)
Our last influential book moves back to the players. Jose Canseco was an all-star player around the turn of the 21st century. In 2005, he released Juiced, which revealed the rampant steroid use in baseball.
This book was different because it named names. Aside from himself, Canseco outed several great players of the era. Steroids have followed many of these players ever since. The debate over whether steroid users deserve to be in the Hall of Fame continues to this day. Fans may not have known about them if it was not for Canseco’s book.
Baseball is easily my favorite sport. It is a game that has molded and changed over time. These books have played a large role in its history. They have changed how teams work and how fans see the game. It will no doubt happen in the future as well.