Thorn: Five baseball books you should know

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on February 15, 2016:

Now and then I am asked which books of baseball history are the best, or which a new fan should read first, that sort of thing. Sometimes I point the curious to an interview I did nearly five years ago, in which I was asked to the name the five books of baseball history that I found indispensable (apart from encyclopedias, anthologies, or my own scribblings). This interview first appeared at, a splendid site based in the UK, on April 25, 2011.


Baseball, the earliest book you name, was published in 1947 by Robert Smith – a novelist and lifelong Red Sox fan. What did Smith accomplish in his single volume that was of such enduring value?

Smith got the stories right. It does not mean that he was a methodical historian. It does not mean that he was a technically gifted historian. But he talked to old ball players. He made friends with baseball players who were – in 1947 – 80 years old. He captured some stories about the game that otherwise would’ve been lost to history; stories that may have strayed from the path of the truth over the years.

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Originally published: February 15, 2016. Last Updated: February 15, 2016.