A collection of iconic, unbelievable, and intimate stories from baseball history that celebrate the enduring impact of the national pastime.
Baseball—rooted as it is in tradition and nostalgia—lends itself to the retelling of its timeless tales. So it is with the stories in Classic Baseball, a collection of articles written by award-winning journalist John Rosengren and originally published by Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, Sports on Earth, VICE Sports, and other magazines. These are stories about the game’s legends—Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Josh Gibson, Bob Feller, Frank Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Kirby Puckett—and its lesser-knowns with extraordinary stories of their own. They cover some of the game's most famous moments, like Hank Aaron hitting No. 715, and some you've never heard of, like the time the Ku Klux Klan played a game against an all-Black team.
Whether it be the story of John Roseboro forgiving Juan Marichal for clubbing him in the head with a bat, Elston Howard breaking down the Yankees' systemic racism to integrate America's team, or the national pastime played on snowshoes during July in a remote Wisconsin town, these are stories meant to be read and read again for their poignancy, their humor, and their celebration of baseball.
John Rosengren is the author of ten books, including Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes, the definitive biography of the Hall of Fame Jewish baseball player; Hammerin' Hank, George Almighty and the Say Hey Kid: The Year that Changed Baseball Forever; and The Fight of their Lives: How Juan Marichal and John Roseboro Turned Baseball's Ugliest Brawl into a Story of Forgiveness and Redemption. A Pulitzer nominee for his journalism, Rosengren has written articles about baseball and many other subjects for more than 100 publications, including The Atavist, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, and The Washington Post Magazine. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
CHAPTER ONE: Immortal Moments
The Reconciliation of Juan Marichal and John Roseboro
On the Way to 714
Harvey Haddix’s Heartbreak
CHAPTER TWO: Baseball during Wartime
Terror in the Trenches
The Greatest Comeback of All-Time
Opening Day: 1946
CHAPTER THREE: Personalities
The Legend of La Tortuga
Hank Greenberg: Superstar and Scapegoat
The Great Josh Gibson
The Shining of Mark Hamburger
They Call him Killer
CHAPTER FOUR: Baltimore Chops
Chasing A-Rod’s Three-Thousandth Hit
The Irreverent Relics of the Baseball Reliquary
A Game of Their Own
Take Me Out to the Old Ball Game
CHAPTER FIVE: For Love of the Game
Cooperstown or Bust
My Father's Glove
Field of Dreams
Walter Mitty Meets Bert Blyleven
CHAPTER SIX: In Jackie's Memory
The Day the Klan Played Ball
Enter Elston Howard, the Yankees' Jackie Robinson Eight Years Late
Crossing the Line
Pioneers of the Negro Leagues
CHAPTER SEVEN: The World Series
Kirby Puckett Carries the Twins
A Fall Classic Comedy
Sandy Koufax's Yom Kippur Decision
About the author
John Rosengren finds both the quiet heroism and the quirky theatrics - and always the humanity - in his cast of baseball greats, near-greats, and guys who just love the game. Rosengren loves the game as well, and that passion brings to life every page in this collection of superb articles.
Classic Baseball, John Rosengren’s wonderful collection of true-to-the-bone baseball tales, reveals an artist in full control of enough writerly personae to fill an entire dugout. Rosengren is by turns an elegant stylist; evocative memoirist; provocative historian; probing investigative reporter; non-gooey nostalgist; and Sabr-matician with a soul beyond statistics. Whatever his authorial guise, Rosengren soulfully sheds new insight on baseball’s biggest themes and most intriguing crannies, in prose that glistens, well, like a perfectly cut diamond.
In his impressive collection, John Rosengren takes us to the four corners of the baseball world, adeptly exploring the game’s humorous, serious and poignant sides. When it comes to our national pastime, few write with such expertise, enthusiasm and understanding.
Like a seasoned hurler who knows exactly where he's going to put his next pitch, John Rosengren delivers these Timeless Tales with skill, savvy, and a grace that belies the sheer amount of hard work involved. If you're looking for a ripping baseball read, look no further.
There are some books you wish would continue beyond the last chapter. John Rosengren's short anthology Classic Baseball is one of them. A member of the society for American Baseball Research and writer on baseball for numerous publications, Rosegren has culled a number of his baseball articles for this book, which is divided into seven chapters with selections dating back two decades, but most of them are of recent origin. If you want to take a book to bed for a good read, John Rosengren's Classic Baseball will do nicely.
12/1/22, Sports Collectors Digest: This book was highlighted as one of the best baseball books of 2022.