The rest of the Best Baseball Books of 2016, including Honorable Mentions

Editor’s note: The following is the conclusion of the Best Baseball Books of 2016 two-part series compiled by Dan Schlossberg. Selections 1-25 can be found here.

26-the-great-baseball-revolt26. The Great Baseball Revolt: The Rise and Fall of the 1890 Players League (University of Nebraska, 251 pages, $29.95), by Robert B. Ross.

For one year, disgruntled ballplayers created a League of Their Own, daring skinflint owners to treat them better or lose them. The renegade circuit outdrew the established National League but folded when N.L. owners absorbed half of its franchises. In light of later labor wars, this well-written hardcover hits home on player-management relations.

27. The Cardinals Way: How One Team Embraced Tradition and Moneyball at the Same Time (Thomas Dunne Books, 304 pages, $31.50), by Howard Megdal.

The sterling St. Louis track record is the direct result of scouting, training, and cultivating the skills of a diverse group of players with a specific game-plan. The hardcover touts the efforts of long-time instructor George Kissell as instrumental in the team’s ability to field contending clubs consistently.

28. Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I’m Not Allowed to Say on TV (Dutton, 295 pages, $28), by Joe Buck.

The son of the late Jack Buck, an iconic Cardinals broadcaster, Joe Buck also hit the big time behind the mic, though he had personal problems away from the diamond. In this easy-to-read but hard-hitting hardcover, he talks about working with Tim McCarver, losing Darryl Kile, embarrassing Alex Rodriguez, and living up to his dad’s legacy.   

29. Characters from the Diamond: Wild Events, Crazy Antics, and Unique Tales from Early Baseball (Rowman & Littlefield, 265 pages, $40), by Ronald T. Waldo.

Before the start of the Roaring ‘20s, the ball was dead but the players were alive – so alive that their antics, superstitions, and strange behavior have spawned this topical tome. Waldo’s list of oddball players ranges from Rube Marquard, who chased fire engines, to Turkey Mike Donlin, who once threatened to drown his manager. The adventures of Ty Cobb, John McGraw, and Cy Young are covered too.

30. Ahead of the Curve: Inside the Baseball Revolution (Simon & Schuster, 353 pages, $28), by Brian Kenny.

The author’s version of WAR has nothing to do with Syria or Iraq; it’s Wins Against Replacement, a vital tool in Kenny’s opinions of what makes award-winners and Hall of Famers. The MLB Network anchor’s No. 1 man left out of Cooperstown: Keith Hernandez.

31. The Knuckleball Club: The Extraordinary Men Who Mastered Baseball’s Most Difficult Pitch (Rowman & Littlefield, 305 pages, $38), by Richard A. Johnson.

Birds of a different feather, knuckleballers are masters of a pitch that’s not only hard to throw but hard to hit and hard to catch. But Hoyt Wilhelm, the Niekro brothers, and Tim Wakefield thrived when managers gave them fair chances. Joe Torre once said of Phil Niekro that he couldn’t hit him, he couldn’t catch him, and he couldn’t manage him. This hardcover tells that story well and many more.

32. Cuba’s Baseball Defectors: The Inside Story (Rowman & Littlefield, 348 pages, $36), by Peter C. Bjarkman.

Even under Fidel Castro, who had big-league aspirations, baseball was a big deal in Cuba. But it paid players poorly, pushing many to defect for the greener pastures of the United States. Historian Peter Bjarkman tells how some escaped on rickety rafts, others made multiple tries before succeeding, and nearly all gave up friends and family for baseball. There’s also an appendix that lists all the Cuban defectors, their positions, their teams, and their years of service.

33. Beyond the Ballpark: The Honorable, Immoral, and Eccentric Lives of Baseball Legends (Rowman & Littlefield, 389 pages, $40), by John A. Wood.

All the players profiled in this hardcover are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame but a few may have squeezed in with their off-the-field antics. From Ty Cobb and Cy Young to Babe Ruth and Dizzy Dean, all had their quirks. But a man with many, Yogi Berra, somehow missed the cut.

34. Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told (Sports Publishing, 243 pages, $19.99), by Cory McCartney.

Except for early chapters on Hank Aaron and Dale Murphy, this hardcover devotes most of its pages to the 14-year title run engineered by John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox. There’s great detail about the Francisco Cabrera game but not a word about Tony Cloninger’s two grand-slams in a game, Phil Niekro’s no-hitter, or the 19-inning game prolonged by pitcher Rick Camp’s lone career homer.

35. Ralph Kiner: A Baseball Biography (McFarland, 204 pages, $29.95), by Robert P. Broadwater.

Winning seven straight home run crowns was such a remarkable achievement that Kiner reached Cooperstown with less than 400 career homers. But his long broadcast tenure, especially with the Mets, plus his pleasant personality made him a personal favorite of many, as this book shows.

36. Maybe Next Year: Long-Suffering Fans and the Teams That Never Deliver (McFarland, 264 pages, $35), by Greg Pearson.

Though not a pure baseball book, this clever paperback pinpoints teams that have disappointed but strangely omits the Washington Nationals, who have never won a postseason series, while including the Texas Rangers, who reached the World Series twice in recent years. Not surprisingly, it was published before the Chicago Cubs ended their 108-year drought this season.

37. Hairs vs. Squares: The Mustache Gang, the Big Red Machine, and the Tumultuous Summer of ‘72 (University of Nebraska, 386 pages, $29.95), by Ed Gruver.

For those of us that believe Charley Finley belongs in Cooperstown, this hardcover supports that theory. It covers the A’s as they brawled their way to the first of three straight World Series wins against hard-nosed rivals led by Pete Rose, whose mind was then on baseball.

38. Inside Pitch: Playing and Broadcasting the Game I Love (Triumph, 256 pages, $26.95), by Tom Glavine with Nick Cafardo, foreword by Greg Maddux.

An update of Glavine’s None but the Braves autobiography, this large-type hardcover contains his comments on playing for Bobby Cox, playing with Deion Sanders, winning a World Series MVP award, and jilting Atlanta before returning as a broadcaster. Glavine also offers a behind-the-scenes look at his 2014 Hall of Fame induction.

39. Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life (St. Martin’s Press, 288 pages, $29.99), by Ron Darling with Daniel Paisner.

Entrusted to start the final game of the 1986 World Series, Ron Darling failed to deliver – even though the Mets eventually won. In his first book, the pitcher-turned-broadcaster talks about the team and especially his slow-to-succeed relationship with newly-acquired catcher Gary Carter. He also reviews the club’s riveting revival in Game 6 and tells what Lenny Dykstra and Keith Hernandez meant to the club.

40. Nine Innings to Success: A Hall of Famer’s Approach to Achieving Excellence (Triumph, 240  pages, $31.95), by Jim Palmer with Roy Firestone.

The only man with World Series wins in three different decades, Jim Palmer followed the same formula for success on and off the mound. This illustrated hardcover features frequent “Visit to the Mound” sidebars that consist of advice that helped Palmer as player, broadcaster, and businessman.

Honorable Mention

• A Season for the Ages (Sports Publishing, 256 pages, $15.79), by Al Yellon, foreword by Pat Hughes

• One-Year Dynasty: Inside the Rise and Fall of the 1986 Mets, Baseball’s Impossible One-and-Done Champions (Rowman and Littlefield, 336 pages, $19.95), by Matthew Silverman

• The Yankees Index: Every Number Tells a Story (Triumph, 368 pages, $16.95), by Mark Simon, foreword by Buster Olney

• Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball (Rowman and Littlefield, 257 pages, $16.95), by Harvey Frommer

• Integrating the Orioles: Baseball and Race in Baltimore (McFarland, 216 pages, $29.95), by Bob Luke

• Jackie Robinson: An Integrated Life (Rowman & Littlefield, 178 pages, $38), by J. Christopher Schutz

• Old-Time Baseball: America’s Pastime in the Gilded Age (Lyons Press, 224 pages, $22.95)

• Bloomer Girls: Women Baseball Pioneers (University of Illinois, 312 pages, $25.95), by Debra A. Shattuck

• Handsome Ransom Jackson: Accidental Big Leaguer (Rowman & Littlefield, 288 pages, $34), by Ransom Jackson Jr. with Gaylon H. White

• If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Milwaukee Brewers Dugout, Locker Room, and Press Box (Triumph, 256 pages, $16.95), by Bill Schroeder with Drew Olsen

• Bobo Newsom: Baseball’s Traveling Man (McFarland, 243 pages, $35), foreword by Mark Langill

• Taking Flight: The St. Louis Cardinals and the Building of Baseball’s Best Franchise (Triumph, 272 pages, $24.95), by Rob Rains, foreword by Whitey Herzog

• Plie Ball: Baseball Meets Dance on Stage and Screen (McFarland, 304 pages, $39.95), by Jeffrey M. Katz, foreword by Edward Villella

• The St. Louis Cardinals Fans’ Bucket List (Triumph, 272 pages, $16.95), by Dan O’Neill, forward by Adam Wainwright

• Born Into Baseball: Laughter and Heartbreak at the Edge of the Show (Summer Game Books, 263 pages, $15.99), by Jim Campanis, Jr.

• The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the San Francisco Giants (Triumph, 256 pages, $19.95), by Daniel Brown, foreword by Orlando Cepeda

• The Hunt for a Reds October: Cincinnati in 1990 (McFarland, 204 pp., $35), by Charles F. Faber and Zachariah Webb

• 100 Things Astros Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (Triumph, 256 pages, $14.95), by Brian McTaggert, foreword by Craig Biggio

• Will Big League Baseball Survive? (Temple University Press, 234 pages, $24.95), by Lincoln A. Mitchell

• Cubs Triviology: Fascinating Facts from the Bleacher Seats (Triumph, 160 pages, $9.95), by Christopher Walsh

• The 50 Greatest Players in Pittsburgh Pirates History (Rowman & Littlefield, 341 pages, $35), by David Finoli

• The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Phillies Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits (Triumph, 320 pages, $16.95), by Larry Shenk, foreword by Larry Andersen

Coming March 7

The New Baseball Bible: Notes, Nuggets, Lists & Legends from the National Pastime  by Dan Schlossberg, foreword by Jay Johnstone (Sports Publishing, 412 pp.), $25.

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is the author of 38 books and more than 25,000 articles about the game. In 2016 he released the book, When the Braves Ruled the Diamond: Fourteen Flags Over Atlanta. This book was not included in this list of the Best Baseball Books of 2016 because it would have been a conflict of interest to do so. The long-time SCD columnist is also baseball editor of Latino Sports and host of the weekly Braves Banter. His email address is ballauthor@gmail.com.

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