The Radicards® Reading List

Sports Books

I read a lot. Here are some books I recommend related to sports and sports cards. I encourage you to buy and read these. This is The Radicards® Reading List. This list will be revised with new titles as I read them so keep an eye on it.

Sports Card Books:

The Card: Collectors, Con Men, and the True Story of History’s Most Desired Baseball Card
∼Michael O’Keeffe and Teri Thompson

If you’re as intrigued as many collectors are by the famous T206 Honus Wagner card, this book will certainly draw your interest. It covers a wide range of information around the finding and controversy surrounding the card and how it came to be. Follow O’Keeffe as he takes you through the somewhat mysterious journey of where the card’s been and where it’s gone. I read this book in just a couple days. Yes, it’s that good!

Card Sharks: How Upper Deck Turned a Child’s Hobby into a High-Stakes, Billion-Dollar Business
∼Pete Williams

This interesting read covers the story and often controversial dealings behind Upper Deck’s beginnings and operations. It’s amazing what’s discussed here. Some of this information may make you think about the ultra successful company in a different light but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s packed with facts and data about interesting information such as the print run of 1989 Upper Deck, how difficult it was to create the embedded hologram, and how many things had to come into action at the same time in order for Upper Deck to secure both the MLB and MLBPA licenses. It’s a must read for any sports card collector.

Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards
∼Josh Wilker

This is an endearing story about the author’s childhood leading up to his adulthood. He connects life memories to baseball cards. It’s fine tuned with scans of each card and how it relates to Wilkers memories from his life. It’s a tender book. Recommended for those interested in something light and warm. This book is peppered with adult themed content so it might be best suited the matured.

Got ‘Em, Got ‘Em, Need ’em: A Fan’s Guide to Collecting the Top 100 Sports Cards of All Time
∼Stephen Laroche and Jon Waldman

This is an excellent read. It covers some of the most notable cards in the hobby of sports cards. The scan of my 1990 Upper Deck Reggie Jackson card was used in this book. It can be found on page 143 as card #34 in the list. My name is also listed in the Thank You page on page 291.

Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession
∼Dave Jamieson

This book takes the reader through the rise and fall of hobby interest from the 1980s through 1990s. It’s fantastically engaging and written specifically with the collector in mind. No longer is the idea that we can sell those 1989 Topps singles in an effort to send our kids to Oxford. If you experienced these years or are interested in learning where the hobby’s been, this book is for you.

Sports Books:

7: The Mickey Mantle Novel
∼Peter Golenbock

This book is entertaining, intriguing, and educational. I can remember laughing out loud when reading this book. It’s packed with stories about Mantles life but get this – it’s written from the perspective of Mantle sitting in a bar in heaven talking to others about his life. He and Billy Martin got into lots of trouble together when they were younger. It’s a good fun read.

A Mathematician at the Ballpark: Odds and Probabilities for Baseball Fans
∼Ken Ross

If you like baseball and statistics, get this. This book covers fascinating insights into topics such as the probability and possible success rates of hitting streaks, wins and losses, and certain common gambling scenarios such as “double or nothing.” With lots of complex mathematical formulas, it’s a bit dry and reads like a textbook. However, it’s possible to spark interest to mathy baseball fans.

After Jackie: Pride, Prejudice, and Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes: An Oral History
∼Cal Fussman

This is an exceptionally fascinating account of the voices of the players and figures that experienced the Jackie Robinson years and how integration impacted communities and perceptions. It’s an excellent educational read.

Armchair Digest: Extra Innings Baseball

This book is filled with lingo, stories, and stats highlighted throughout the sport. It’s good coffee table or side table filler. I bought this book at a discount rack at a B&N in Fullerton and it was good nightly reading until I finished it.

Baffling Baseball Trivia
∼Dom Forker, Wayne Stewart, and Michael Pellowski

If you want more than just generic Google searches, try this book. It’s filled with interesting and entertaining stories from the sport.

Ball Four: Twentieth Anniversary Edition
∼Jim Bouton

This is essentially Bouton’s personal journal from his minor league years. It’s a dense record but packed with interesting stories about guys you may or may not have ever heard of. It reads like a journal.

The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed
∼J.C. Bradbury

If you like baseball and math, get this. This book looks at baseball from the economists perspective. Interesting points are considered on topics such as whether or not steroids have any impact on player performance, how leagues were originally formed, and how MLB is an equitable and legal monopoly. It’s an educational read and certainly one that’ll fit nicely into any baseball fan’s library.

Baseball Roots: The Fascinating Birth of America’s Game and the Amazing Players that were its Champions
∼Ron McCulloch

This book covers the beginnings of the sports invention, which includes insight on the age-old question – Who invented baseball, Alexander Cartwright or Abner Doubleday? The book covers how leagues were formed as well as the baseball diamond and the significant importance of the exact distance between the pitching mound and home plate. It’s a must read for anyone interested in history.

The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth
∼Leigh Montville

George Herman never really grew up to be a well adjusted adult, but that’s part of what makes his story so entertaining. Did you know he never bothered to open his mail? At one point, someone did this for him and found checks written to Ruth for thousands of dollars. This among many other tidbits of juicy details about his life are packed into this record. Get this book to learn more about the legend we all still talk about today.

Calico Joe
∼John Grisham

This is a touching story about a boy, Paul Tracey, who idolizes a young star baseball player named Joe Castle. Joe as well as Paul’s father, Warren Tracey, play professional baseball on opposing teams. Warren’s a total jerk throughout Paul’s life and as such throws a devastating fastball to Joe that changes everything.

Famous Firsts in Baseball
∼Joseph J. Cook

The Game: Inside The Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers
~Jon Pessah

This is a dense read that covers backroom deals and conversations fans aren’t privy to being a part of. This book covers baseball, in depth, from 1992 to 2010. Much of this book is dominated by conversations between Commissioner Bud Selig, Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, and union leader Don Fehr. The reader gains valuable insights into some of the more controversial topics like how the ’94 Strike was handled, and how the Steroid Era of the late ’90s was managed. This is a must for any baseball fan.

House of Nails: A Memoir of Life on the Edge
~Lenny Dykstra

In this book, Lenny takes you through his life from child to grandpa. Join Nails as he shares stories of Game 6, steroids, his private jet, that time he bought Wayne Gretzky’s mansion, and ending up in prison. It’s a wild ride with no filters and a truly great read.

Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big
∼Jose Canseco

This is a controversial book that hurt relationships and put a lot of fellas in the spotlight as far as who really used. Canseco has a lot to say and it’s all very engageing. Canseco discusses the problem of steroid use in baseball and how, for a lot of guys, it’s the only way to build a career. He makes some pretty strong points. I couldn’t put this book down and have new respect for the first 40/40 man.

Once Upon a Fastball
∼Bob Mitchell

This is an endearing story about a man who travels back in time to revisit specific milestone baseball games with his father who two years prior stumbled and fell onto his head, which led him to endure retrograde amnesia. It’s incredibly well-written and is sure to delight any baseball fan.

The Psychology of Baseball: Inside the Mental Game of the Major League Player
∼Mike Stadler

If you like baseball and psychology, get this. Stadler covers the impossible odds required to become a baseball superstar. He talks about the true rarity of this occurrence and that certain physical and mental rarities must exist in order to perform successfully at the professional level. This is a highly interesting read. Recommended for anyone studying the field of Psychology.

Smart Baseball
~Keith Law

In this book, Law defuncts the credibility of the stats we all tend to use to value a player – AVG, RBI, Saves, Wins, etc. He makes valid cases for why these stats aren’t valuable and should be removed from conversations around player value. Law discusses new data and how it’s impacting how players are scouted and used – StatCast, Pitch f/x, etc. This book is a bit mathy and sort of a mental workout but if you can muster through it, I think you’ll appreciate the game even more than you already do.

Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty
~Charles Leerhsen

All the trash you’ve heard about Ty Cobb, you can just take it all and toss it right out the window. In this book, Leerhsen factually debuncts what most people think they know of Cobb. Yes, he didn’t suffer fools well but he wasn’t a racist, nor was he a deliberate jerk. He was actually an excellent mentor the community loved. If you want the facts on Cobb, look no further than this book.

Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars, and the Battle to Save Baseball
∼Jose Canseco

This is the follow-up to Juiced. Read that before you dive into this one. Both books will enlighten you to what’s really happened since the induction of PEDs in baseball.


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