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Five Baseball Novels for the “First” Day of Baseball Season

Today offers the first full day of Major League Baseball in the 2019 season; all thirty teams play today.

Because more than one of our staff members have a “baseball problem,” we thought we’d share five favorite baseball novels:


If I Never Get Back by Darryl Brock.
A contemporary newspaper reporter stuck in a dead-end post finds himself transported to Cincinnati, Ohio, in the summer of 1869, where he falls in with the nation’s first pro baseball players—the Cincinnati Red Legs—and discovers the life he’d always been meant to lead.




Keystone Kids by John R. Tunis.
Tunis’ Keystone Kids series follows two brothers who join the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s. Part of an entire series centered around the team, it’s written for young people but addresses serious themes of race, friendship, and overcoming obstacles, and written well enough to appeal to adult readers.




The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant by Douglass Wallop.
The basis for the Broadway musical Damn Yankees, this book features a middle-age man in decline who swings a deal with Satan and becomes an All-Star outfielder for his beloved Washington Senators. A fantasy? Sure. But the characters are terrific, the moral dilemas real, and hey, everybody is allowed a chance to close their eyes and dream a little. Plus, whatever  Lola wants, Lola gets….



The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.
This New York Times bestseller was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award in 2012. It tells the tender story of slick-fielding college shortstop Henry Skrimshander, the challenges faced by his gay roommate and teammate Owen, and the many choices we make in the face of family and career as we reach all reach for better futures.




Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella.
The basis for the movie Field of Dreams, this novel features a man who hears a voice in a cornfield and builds a ballpark in hopes of attracting the 1918 Chicago White Sox, the “Black Sox” team that infamously threw the 1918 World Series, and especially its most famous play, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. A mid-novel roadtrip includes a visit to the famously reclusive author J.D. Salinger.