“The League of Outsider Baseball” is a Must-Read

Through the sports reporting work that I’ve done over the past two and a half years at Section215.com and various other outlets before and during that time period, I managed to get myself on a few lists that allow me to receive sports-related books prior to their actual release date.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t get to reading a majority off them, at least not until they are already available to the public. And some of the ones that I do get to reading early, are good books, but they aren’t the type of thing that I would go out of my way to recommend. 

That said, I get the occasional diamond in the ruff, and when that happens, not only am I excited that I got the book for free, but I feel the need to pass it along.

Though the coverage patterns on Section 215 may lead you to think that the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL are my first love, the Philadelphia Phillies and the MLB are. Baseball was the first one that I was interested in, and not only do I treasure the present, I can never learn enough about the history of the sport.

So “The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’ Forgotten Heroes”, was particularly interesting to me. The book delves into such a wide array of players who played in the majors that it hits on Negro League players, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and all the way up to recent players such as Ryan Freel.

The book simply is a must-read for all baseball fans, especially those with a passion for understanding the game’s historical landscape.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book comes is chapter five, when author Gary Cieradkowski takes a look at how baseball played a role in the lives of players who turned out to be celebrities for reasons other than there ability to swing the lumber.

Cieradkowski gives an in-depth look at Jim Thorpe and George Halas, who turned out to be legends in other sports. But the clincher, and my favorite part of the book, is the look at the baseball careers of political figures such as George H.W. Bush, Dwight Eisenhower and Fidel Castro.

This snippet on page 145 about Castro dispells the common myth that he was a “major league talent”:

“The most common myth is that the Washington Senators were scouting the young Fidel when he was a hot-shot right-handed pitcher for the University of Havana back in the 1940s. During that time the Senators gave contracts to anyone who showed even an ounce of talent, and not only were their scouts uninterested in the future dictator, but he couldn’t even make the university’s JV baseball team. While it’s fun to think about how the fate of an entire country could have hinged on how fast a single college student could throw a little leather ball, it just isn’t true.”

It’s funny, because that’s a discussion that I’ve had with various people that I consider to be “educated baseball people”, and this book goes far enough to prove that rumors of Castro being an elite baseball talent just weren’t true.

Anyway, this is just one of the many stories available in this wonderfully crafted book.

You can pre-order the book now on Amazon, and have it in time for the May 5th public release date. For those of you that like hardcover books, that version, regularly $25.00, is currently on-sale on Amazon for $18.63. The book is also available on your Kindle.