The offseason can be a difficult grind, but I always pass the time by reading good books, especially about baseball, a sport with an unrivalled literary footprint. In particular, the Red Sox have arguably been the focus of more quality books than any other sports team in the world. Therefore, I present five recommendations for your winter reading list.
This classic by Stephen King and Stewart O’Nan is essentially a diary of the legendary 2004 season. This was the first book I simply couldn’t put down, and have re-read it five or six times through the years. Even today, the 2004 Red Sox are a captivating story, and this wonderful book grants you box seats to relive it all. Faithful is perfect for a lazy weekend in poor weather. You’ll breeze through the pages and never want it to end.
2) Feeding the Monster
For this opus, Seth Mnookin was granted unprecedented access to the Red Sox front office and ownership. He sat in on executive meetings and conducted exclusive interviews with key personnel. The result is an engrossing book that delves deep into the Red Sox’ philosophy, and delivers a behind-the-scenes look at how The Olde Towne Team morphed into a flagship juggernaut of North American sports.
3) It Was Never About the Babe
As every Red Sox fan knows, the team was long overshadowed by the Curse of the Bambino, a concept that went mainstream following Dan Shaughnessy’s eponymous book. However, while the curse mushroomed into pop culture ubiquity, it was of course totally fiction. The real reasons why Boston didn’t win a World Series for 86 years are documented in exquisite detail by Jerry Gutlon in It Was Never About the Babe, which cites cronyism, racial bias and a fear of modernization as chief rationale for the infamous drought. Riveting reading.
4) ’78: The Boston Red Sox, a Historic Game, and a Divided City
In this fascinating commentary, Bill Reynolds uses the 1978 one-game playoff between the Red Sox and Yankees as a prism through which to explore a complex era in Boston societal history. That summer, civil unrest over racial busing festered in Massachusetts, creating a unique context for one of the greatest games in sports history. Reynolds does a masterful job of explaining how the Red Sox are intrinsic to Boston culture, and how, in turn, that culture affects the beloved baseball team.
5) Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero
When it comes to Red Sox history, no player stands out more than the Splendid Splinter, Teddy Ballgame. He was, quite simply, the greatest player in franchise history, and we’ll be extremely lucky ever to see hit like again. In this definitive biography, Leigh Montville digs deep into the man and the myth; the hero and the human. Ted Williams was more than a Red Sox immortal, more than a baseball God. He was an American icon who served his country with distinction, and who created a compelling story at every turn. Retrace his complex life and immense legacy with this compelling biography, which includes everything you would ever need to know about The Kid.
Happy reading, folks. Not long until Truck Day.