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The Soul of Baseball
Joe Posnanski
5 stars
Posnanski, sports columnist for the Kansas City Star, spent a year on the road with the iconic Negro Leagues player and manager Buck O’Neil (1911–2006), recording the magnanimous 94-year-old’s encounters with scores of fans and his vast repertoire of entertaining stories. O’Neil, the first African-American to coach in the Major Leagues, was a tireless spokesman for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Posnanski is at his best when recounting O’Neil’s baseball memories of the likes of legends Satchel Paige, Willie Mays and Josh Gibson.


The Boys of Summer
Roger Kahn
4+ stars
“Roger Kahn has achieved the near impossible in his The Boys of Summer by writing two splendid books in one, neither of which, strangely enough, is a sports book although baseball is the central theme of both. To Mr. Kahn, ‘people’ is the name of the game, and it’s a game he plays with brilliance, insight and thoughtfulness. To say that I ‘enjoyed’ the book is to say that winning a World Championship is ‘interesting’, owing a derby winner ‘nice’, and starring in the Super Bowl ‘fun’.” — Bill Veeck


Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy (P.S.)
Jane Leavy
4+ stars
Sportswriter Leavy describes her book as not so much a biography of a ballplayer as a social history of baseball, with the former star pitcher’s career as the barometer of change. While both a preface and an introduction spin Leavy’s storytelling wheels, a compelling, literary social history does indeed get rolling. Koufax refused to participate in the project, so Leavy has spoken to hundreds of people with something to share on the former Brooklyn/L.A. Dodger Hank Aaron, Joe Torre, childhood friend and Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon and even the old Dodgers equipment manager among them and their testimonies make for a rich baseball pastiche and an engaging look at the game’s more innocent period.


The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood
Jane Leavy
4 stars
Jane Leavy, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy, returns with a biography of an American original—number 7, Mickey Mantle. Drawing on more than 500 interviews with friends and family, teammates, and opponents, she delivers the definitive account of Mantle’s life, mining the mythology of The Mick for the true story of a luminous and illustrious talent with an achingly damaged soul.

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