With the World Series ending, the long dark known as the offseason has settled in. And though it’s fun to watch free agent signings and to debate who we think the Tigers might want to sign, there are a lot of baseball-less hours to fill between now and when pitchers and catchers report in February.
It’s also time to start thinking about holiday shopping for those Tigers fans on your gift list, so hopefully this list will inspire you to either pick up a title or two for yourself, or grab one for a friend.
The BYB staff have a few of these, so expect to see some offseason reviews coming down the pipeline. All back cover blurbs and art are from Amazon, but links are not affiliate links, we make no money from anything you purchase below, we just really like reading books.
There are a couple books released this year with a 1968 World Series theme to them.
An October to Remember — Brendan Donley
An October to Remember 1968: The Tigers-Cardinals World Series as Told by the Men Who Played in Itrecalls one of baseball’s most celebrated championship series from the voices of the players who still remain--a collected narrative from a bygone era of major-league baseball as they reflect fifty years later.
Modeled after Lawrence S. Ritter’s celebrated book, The Glory of Their Times--for which the author traversed the country to record stories of baseball’s deadball era--An October to Remember 1968 will likewise preserve the days of baseball past, gathering the memories of the remaining players of the great Tigers and Cardinals teams to assemble their accounts into a vibrant baseball collection.
The 1968 World Series came at a time of great cultural change--the fading days of fans dressing up for ballgames, the first years of widespread color TV--and was an historic matchup of two legendary teams, pitting star power head-to-head and going the distance of seven hard-fought games.
From the voices of the players themselves, An October to Remember 1968 illustrates in detail what it was like to be a 1968 Tiger, a 1968 Cardinal: what it was like to win it all and to lose it all: what it was like to face Bob Gibson peering in from the mound, Al Kaline digging in at the plate; what it was like, in the player’s own words, to remember the days of that most special period in the history of America’s national pastime.
Joy in Tigertown — Mickey Lolich with Tom Gage (forward by Jim Leyland)
The 1968 World Series remains one of the most iconic in major league history. Featuring Bob Gibson in MVP form, Al Kaline, and Mickey Lolich, it was baseball at its best. Told with the vibrant first-hand perspective of Lolich himself and the expertise of award-winning Detroit journalist Tom Gage, this is the remarkable saga of that 1968 season which culminated in Tigers glory. Incorporating new reflections from players and personnel, Joy in Tigertown traces such achievements as Denny McClain’s 31-win season as well as the remarkable slugging performances of Kaline, Norm Cash, Willie Horton, and Bill Freehan.
Being a Fan
The Big 50: Detroit Tigers — Tom Gage (forward by Alan Trammell)
The Big 50: Detroit Tigers: The Men and Moments that Made the Detroit Tigers is an amazing, full-color look at the 50 men and moments that made the Tigers the Tigers. Award-winning beat writer Tom Gage recounts the living history of the Tigers, counting down from No. 50 to No. 1. Big 50: Tigers brilliantly brings to life the Tigers’ remarkable story, from Ty Cobb and Kirk Gibson to the rollercoaster that was the “Bless You Boys” era to Justin Verlander’s no-hitters and up to today.
Stories from my Life in Baseball — Ernie Harwell
Long-time Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell tells his favorite baseball stories. This is a collection of columns originally published in the Detroit Free Press.
Bless You Boys — Sparky Anderson
[Ed note: This book is out of print, but Amazon and Thrift Books usually have inexpensive used copies available]
The inside story of the 1984 Detroit Tigers. During this season, the Tigers won 32 of their first 35 games and beat the San Diego Padres in the World Series
Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty — Charles Leerhsen
A fascinating and authoritative biography of perhaps the most controversial player in baseball history, Ty Cobb—“The best work ever written on this American sports legend: It’s a major reconsideration of a reputation unfairly maligned for decades” (The Boston Globe).
Ty Cobb is baseball royalty, maybe even the greatest player ever. His lifetime batting average is still the highest in history, and when he retired in 1928, after twenty-one years with the Detroit Tigers and two with the Philadelphia Athletics, he held more than ninety records. But the numbers don’t tell half of Cobb’s tale. The Georgia Peach was by far the most thrilling player of the era: When the Hall of Fame began in 1936, he was the first player voted in.
But Cobb was also one of the game’s most controversial characters. He got in a lot of fights, on and off the field, and was often accused of being overly aggressive. Even his supporters acknowledged that he was a fierce competitor, but he was also widely admired. After his death in 1961, however, his reputation morphed into that of a virulent racist who also hated children and women, and was in turn hated by his peers.
How did this happen? Who is the real Ty Cobb? Setting the record straight, Charles Leerhsen pushed aside the myths, traveled to Georgia and Detroit, and re-traced Cobb’s journey from the shy son of a professor and state senator who was progressive on race for his time to America’s first true sports celebrity. The result is a “noble [and] convincing” (The New York Times Book Review) biography that is “groundbreaking, thorough, and compelling…The most complete, well-researched, and thorough treatment that has ever been written” (The Tampa Tribune).
Winning Ugly — Todd Radom
[Ed note: Todd Radom designed the incredible vintage-inspired tickets for the Tigers this season, we interviewed him about it earlier this spring.]
Baseball, our national pastime. Every fan has memories of their team’s incredible victories and anguishing defeats. We remember the home runs, the walk-off wins, and the moments that will last a lifetime.
We also remember those things which we wish we could forget: the errors, the mental mistakes . . . and the ugly uniforms.
In an ode to those eyesores, Todd Radom has collected and chronicled some of the swing-and-misses we’ve ever seen on the baseball diamond. Remember when the Chicago White Sox thought wearing shorts in 1977 was a good idea? How about when the Baltimore Orioles wore their all-orange jerseys in 1971? Do you remember the 1999 “Turn Ahead the Clock” campaign? Or the most recent all-camo jerseys of San Diego Padres?
Yes, there is much to talk about when it comes to the odd uniform decisions teams have made over the years. But just like there’s love out there for French bulldogs or Christmas sweaters, ugly uniforms hold a warm place in the heart of all baseball fans.
Sure they didn’t affect wins and losses (unless you mention Chris Sale), but a fan’s love and ire goes well beyond the current standings. So whether your team appears in Ugly Baseball Uniforms or not, fans of the sport will enjoy reliving the moments most teams would like to forget.
Power Ball: Anatomy of a Modern Baseball Game — Rob Neyer
The former ESPN columnist and analytics pioneer dramatically recreates an action-packed 2017 game between the Oakland A’s and eventual World Series Champion Houston Astros to reveal the myriad ways in which Major League Baseball has changed over the last few decades.
On September 8, 2017, the Oakland A’s faced off against the Houston Astros in a game that would signal the passing of the Moneyball mantle. Though this was only one regular season game, the match-up of these two teams demonstrated how Major League Baseball has changed since the early days of Athletics general manager Billy Beane and the publication of Michael Lewis’ classic book.
Over the past twenty years, power and analytics have taken over the game, driving carefully calibrated teams like the Astros to victory. Seemingly every pitcher now throws mid-90s heat and studiously compares their mechanics against the ideal. Every batter in the lineup can crack homers and knows their launch angles. Teams are relying on unorthodox strategies, including using power-losing—purposely tanking a few seasons to get the best players in the draft.
As he chronicles each inning and the unfolding drama as these two teams continually trade the lead—culminating in a 9-8 Oakland victory in the bottom of the ninth—Neyer considers the players and managers, the front office machinations, the role of sabermetrics, and the current thinking about what it takes to build a great team, to answer the most pressing questions fans have about the sport today.
This barely scratches the surface of what’s out there to read, but should give everyone a few ideas of where to start, if they need a little more Tigers baseball in their lives over the long winter months.