After the Indians’ game one loss in Houston, I got myself as far from the team as I could and flew to Portland, Oregon. Of course, I didn’t do this on a whim, I had planned this trip with my wife long in advance, but as the Indians played a historically bad series I was able to remove myself — literally and emotionally.
Now that the Tribe bats are done flailing against the dying of the light and have gone gently into the night that is the offseason, I figured we all need a way to disconnect from the season that was. Aside from travel, my favorite way to leave everything behind is reading. With that in mind, I’d like to start the Let’s Go Tribe Offseason Book Club to help us all have something more enjoyable to comment on.
For the book club, I’ll pick three or four books for anyone interested in reading to vote on. All the options will be baseball books, and at least one of them will be Tribe-related. I’ll put the options in a post like this one (my posts usually run on Tuesdays) and then allow one week for voting; the final selection will be posted in my article the following week. Three weeks after that, I’ll write up a review and anyone else who read the book can use the comments to post their thoughts or questions about the book. I’m hopeful to do more than a review and include interviews with authors or subjects, but I promise at minimum to include a review.
So, let’s get straight into the books.
The Tribe-related option this go ‘round is Satch, Dizzy, and Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball Before Jackie Robinson by Timothy Gay. Though not strictly about Cleveland baseball, it chronicles two members of the most recent Indians team to win a World Series title as they set about playing exhibitions in towns all across America, breaking down intolerance before MLB had the guts to do so. Rated 3.48/5 with 73 ratings on Goodreads, from the description:
Long before they ever heard of Robinson or Larry Doby, baseball fans from Brooklyn to Enid, Oklahoma, watched black and white players battle on the same diamond. With such Hall of Fame teammates as Josh Gibson, Turkey Stearnes, Mule Suttles, Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, and Bullet Joe Rogan, Paige often had the upper hand against Diz. After arm troubles sidelined Dean, a new pitching phenom, Bob Feller—Rapid Robert—assembled his own teams to face Paige and other blackballers. By the time Paige became Feller’s teammate on the Cleveland Indians in 1948, a rookie at age forty-two, Satch and Feller had barnstormed against each other for more than a decade. These often obscure contests helped hasten the end of Jim Crow baseball, paving the way for the game’s integration. Satchel Paige, Dizzy Dean, and Bob Feller never set out to make social history—but that’s precisely what happened. Tim Gay has brought this era to vivid and colorful life in a book that every baseball fan will embrace.
A brand-new option to read, Power Ball: Anatomy of a Modern Baseball Game by Rob Neyer. Released just last week, former ESPN and SB Nation writer Neyer recreates a single game from the 2017 season to highlight the ways the modern game has changed. Rated 4.5/5 with six ratings on Goodreads, from the description:
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.
A classic choice, Ball Four by Jim Bouton. This tell-all memoir broke the mold by sharing the secrets of the clubhouse and busting the mythology behind the heroes of the game. Bouton’s bold autobiography is considered a must-read for baseball fans. Rated 3.99/5 with 14,657 ratings on Goodreads, from the description:
When first published in 1970, Ball Four stunned the sports world. The commissioner, executives, and players were shocked. Sportswriters called author Jim Bouton a traitor and “social leper.” Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn tried to force him to declare the book untrue. Fans, however, loved the book. And serious critics called it an important social document. Today, Jim Bouton is still not invited to Oldtimer’s Days at Yankee Stadium. But his landmark book is still being read by people who don’t ordinarily follow baseball.
Finally, a fiction choice, for those of us who need a break from reality, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King. As with most baseball fiction, this one is not really about baseball but baseball-adjacent, which is fine; maybe we’ve had enough baseball for a bit. Rated 3.57/5 with 111,512 ratings on Goodreads, from the description:
Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland strays from the path while she and her recently divorced mother and brother take a hike along a branch of the Appalachian Trail. Lost for days, wandering farther and farther astray, Trisha has only her portable radio for comfort. A huge fan of Tom Gordon, a Boston Red Sox relief pitcher, she listens to baseball games and fantasizes that her hero will save her. Nature isn’t her only adversary, though - something dangerous may be tracking Trisha through the dark woods.
I hope you’ll join me in reading this offseason (leave any ideas for future book choices in the comments!). Comments on Let’s Go Tribe are (with rare exception) filled with thoughtful responses and queries, and I’d love to have a rich back and forth about these books with our readers. Vote in the poll below and check back next week to see what we’ll be reading first.
What should we read first?
This poll is closed
Satch, Dizzy, and Rapid Robert
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon