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Baseball books in play

Baseball books in play
New York Yankees star Joe DiMaggio in March 1951. (Associated Press)

Ah, the sounds of spring. The crack of the bat, the smack of the ball hitting the catcher's mitt, the ka-ching of cash registers totaling up sales of books on baseball out this season.

Just as

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ESPN

seems to lean toward the

American League East

for broadcasts, book publishers this season also are looking in that direction, especially to the

Boston Red Sox

, the

New York Yankees

and — surprisingly — the

Tampa Bay Rays

.

Citizens of Red Sox Nation may find the team's unlikeliest of heroes in knuckleballer

Tim Wakefield

and his book "Knuckler: My Life With Baseball's Most Confounding Pitch" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Those who view a trip to

Fenway Park

as a religious experience should consider "Remembering Fenway Park: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Boston Red Sox" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang).

The Rays come under scrutiny in Jonah Keri's "The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a

Major League Baseball

Team From Worst to First" (ESPN Books). In this unlikely baseball tale, two former

Goldman Sachs

colleagues assume control of the team and leverage their brokerage skills to transform a flailing franchise.

Of course, there have to be several on the Bronx Bombers, notably "The Captain: The Journey of

Derek Jeter

" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and Robert Weintraub's "The House That Ruth Built: A New Stadium, the First Yankees Championship, and the Redemption of 1923" (Little Brown), which tells the story of another baseball shrine. Nearly 12 years after his death,

Joe DiMaggio

continues to be fodder for baseball books: His 56-game hitting streak gets a detailed look in Kostya Kennedy's "56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports" (

Sports Illustrated

).

Even books about the

Dodgers

this year have a mostly New York flavor. Jimmy Breslin profiles the Brooklyn Dodgers executive who broke baseball's color barrier by signing

Jackie Robinson

in "

Branch Rickey

" (Viking). Another Dodgers great of that era comes to bat for a

biographical

treatment in "Campy: The Two Lives of

Roy Campanella

" (Simon & Schuster). And the new Dodgers manager and former Yankees

Gold Glove

winner is the subject of "Donnie Baseball: The Definitive Biography of

Don Mattingly

" (Triumph).

Moving west,

Shawn Green

, the former Dodger, Blue Jay, Diamondback and Met, gives readers a memoir of his time in the game that has a decidedly Zen-like title, "The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 mph" (Simon & Schuster). Ommm….

Angels

fans have the club's own story of its years in operation in the forthcoming "The Official History of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" (Insight Editions), which marks the team's big 5-0 as a franchise.

What about fans not aligned with either coast? The best bet for the season may be George Vecsey's biography "

Stan Musial

: An American Life" (ESPN), which tells the story of the great

St. Louis Cardinals

slugger and Hall of Famer who played from the early 1940s to the early 1960s.

Another good bet is Dan Barry's book on the longest game ever played, a minor-league affair between the Rochester Red Wings and the Pawtucket Red Sox in "Bottom of the 33

r
d

: Hope, Redemption and Baseball's Longest Game" (Harper).

Or fans might consider "Nobody's Perfect" (Atlantic Monthly Press), in which umpire

Jim Joyce

and pitcher

Armando Galarraga

team to describe last season's perfect game that wasn't when Joyce missed the call at first base and how it has influenced their lives.

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