With the baseball season over, I want to recommend two lesser known baseball books to get fans through the winter. The first is A Day of Light and Shadows by Jonathan Schwartz. The book chronicles the 1978 Red Sox/Yankees playoff game. But it’s more than that. It captures the poignance of sports and the role it plays in our lives in a beautiful way. As a Red Sox fan, I always loved the book (and the original Sports Illustrated article that is the heart of the book) even though it was a bittersweet delight. Now that the Red Sox have won the World Series, its sweetbitter.
The other book is harder to find: The Unforgettable Season by Gordon Fleming. This is an account of the 1908 baseball season told mainly through the eyes and words of the sportswriters of the day. The season is truly unforgettable—the stars include Christy Mathewson, Tinkers, Evers and Chance and the unforgettable Fred Merkle. Merkle’s famous blunder turns out to be more interesting and tragic than you ever might have imagined. The drama of the season is tremendous but it’s equally riveting as a portrait of what sports meant to Americans in 1908 (more than I would have thought) and how sportwriting has changed.